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    Southern creates official varsity esports team, Christopher Turner named head coach

    The University becomes the first higher learning institution with an esports pipeline servicing K-12 through graduate school students.

    Southern University and A&M College is creating an official varsity esports team, joining more than 300 colleges and universities to compete nationally in the fast-growing digital sport.

    Esports, short for “electronic sports,” is defined as competitive multiplayer video gaming. While new and developing at the collegiate level, esports has grown exponentially among amateur and professional gamers around the world.

    The Southern University esports program has plans to join esports organizations, which include the SWAC, HBCU Esports, Tespa, National Association of Collegiate Esports, and Collegiate Star League. Students will have the opportunity to compete online against other universities.

    Southern University has named Christopher Turner general manager and head coach.  Turner is also the Southern University Laboratory School esports general manager and head coach. He has recently received a national championship through the development of its Esports Program.

    “I’m excited to head up esports for Southern University. We will be the only program to reach students from Pre K to Ph.D.  Our goal is to increase student involvement in STEM-related careers, compete for scholarships, and create internship opportunities,” said Turner.

    Spring season competition will be in NBA 2K21, Call of Duty, and Fortnite. Titles being considered for the fall are Rocket League, Super Smash Bros., Madden NFL, and FIFA.

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    Kenna Franklin appointed assistant provost LSU

    Louisiana State University in Shreveport is proud to announce Kenna Franklin, EdD, as the new assistant provost for diversity, inclusion, and community engagement.

    She will lead and coordinate university-wide initiatives fostering and sustaining a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community partners. The assistant provost reports to the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs and will serve as a member of the Chancellor’s senior administrative team.  Franklin will assist the provost in ensuring a culture of equity, access, and inclusion by collaborating with the Office of Student Affairs and the academic deans and chairs in offering resources and programming both on and off campus that promote diversity, respect, and openness. The assistant provost will be responsible for strategic planning, diversity education and training for students, faculty, and staff, community outreach and relationship management, policy development, and campus climate issues.

    “The Chancellor and I discussed creating a new position for diversity and inclusion back in September 2019, right after I was named as Provost,” said Helen Taylor, PhD, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “While we have had a Director of Multicultural Affairs for a number of years, we felt that it was time for the campus to do more and do better, and to elevate the position to its rightful place and scope.”

    Dereck Rovaris, PhD, vice provost for diversity at LSU A&M, was instrumental in the process of developing the title and outlining the job description of the new position. This collaborative approach underscores an ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion across all LSU campuses. The search process, which was originally scheduled to conclude in early March, was delayed due to COVID-19.

    Despite the delay, LSUS found their perfect candidate on campus. Kenna Franklin, EdD, the founding director of the LSUS Office of Multicultural Affairs, will now occupy the assistant provost position. Franklin, an associate professor of professional practice, teaches both social work and sociology courses, and has been a member of the university’s faculty for the past 30 years. She possesses bachelor degrees in sociology and criminal justice from Grambling State University, a master’s in social welfare administration from the University of Michigan, and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Texas. Her research interests align with her new role, as she has done extensive work in the areas of underserved student populations, transfer students, African-American, Latino-American and LGBTQ student issues, educational disparities, retention strategies, student success, and university/business/community partnerships.

    “As an educator, this moment finds me enthusiastic for the potential of growth and a genuine understanding of what underscores this work,” said Franklin. “With the country at a crucial intersection of moral, social and racial justice, LSUS is poised through the work of this office to truly make a difference at the forefront of these issues. I look forward to the support of the entire Louisiana State University Shreveport family as we plan programs, institute campus wide policies, and invite the community to become a part of this dynamic movement.”

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    Diocese of Baton Rouge Catholic Schools accepting displaced students

    Catholic schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge are opening their doors to displaced students from dioceses affected by Hurricane Laura.  Students enrolled in one of the 17 Catholic elementary and high schools located in the Dioceses of Alexandria and Lake Charles may apply by contacting the Baton Rouge Catholic school directly.  General information about Catholic schools in the diocese can be found at www.csobr.org, and a list of Catholic schools can be found through the School Finder Page at https://www.csobr.org/schoolfinder.

    While each school’s capacity to accept displaced students is different, especially because of reduced numbers in classrooms due to the pandemic, some schools have room for displaced students while still maintaining social distancing guidelines.  Some schools may require a two-week quarantine with virtual learning before the student can attend on-campus classes. Interested parents should contact the school directly to find out the process for applying.

    Displaced families will receive a reduced cost to attend Catholic schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge.  Instead of a registration fee, a small application processing fee may be required.  No other usual fees will be charged to displaced families.  Likewise, the cost of annual tuition will not be charged, and the monthly tuition cost will be set by each school.

    Government tuition funding may be available for displaced families through two avenues.  Students from an affected area who were attending Catholic schools through the State of Louisiana Scholarship Program may be able to temporarily transfer their scholarship status with state approval.  Additionally, displaced families may be able to receive FEMA funding to attend a Catholic school in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, by completing an application at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm seven days a week. The number for assistance with hearing and speech impaired applications is 1-800-462-7585 (TTY).  Displaced families can also apply for tuition assistance directly from the school if the family is not able to pay tuition.

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    T.I. to deliver keynote during SU symposium

    SELA-01[2]Tip “T.I.” Harris will deliver the Saturday keynote address for the Southern University Law Center’s virtual Sports and Entertainment Symposium.

    “At the Law Center, we strive to present continuing education seminars where we align our students and community with various industry influencers to learn new skills and information and continuously build their network,” said Marla Dickerson, director of the Law Center’s CLE program. “We are truly grateful to Mr. Harris, and our host of panelists, for taking the time to pour knowledge and wisdom into our attendees.”

    Symposium panelists include Benny Pough, chief executive officer of DVerse Media, Butch Hartfield, senior national director of promotion of Epic Records; Jourdan Williams, assistant media counsel at NASCAR Media Ventures; Jennifer Duval, vice president of business affairs at NBCUniversal Media, LLC; Niya Fleming, artists and repertoire (A&R) for Def Jam Recordings, and more.

    On Friday, September 18, nationally recognized attorney, Donald Woodard, will be the keynote speaker for the event. Currently, Woodard acts as deputy general counsel/chief of business affairs of USA Track and Field.

    Attendees will have the chance to participate in panels such as “Music Industry 101”, “Brand Protection” and “Sports, Entertainment, and Intellectual Property” and more.

    Registration for the virtual event is now open at www.sulc.edu/sportsent. Participants from Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi participants are eligible for 10 CLE credit hours. Registration fees begin at $10, and the event is open to the general public.

     

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    BRCC classes start Aug. 17 with aggressive safety measures, a variety of teaching formats

    Fall 2020 classes at Baton Rouge Community College begin on Monday, Aug. 17 with a variety of teaching formats in place, including online, in-person, and hybrid classes that will allow students to receive the necessary instruction in all available ways possible for their fields of study. This update comes after several months of planning course schedules and implementing aggressive safety measures, including masks/face covers and social distancing mandates, as well as smaller class sizes and access to professional-grade cleaning supplies and proper PPE disposal.

    “We couldn’t be more excited to welcome our students back for the fall semester. We are prepared and ready to assist all of our students with various offerings in different teaching formats. Remaining completely online just isn’t an option when you are educating the state’s next healthcare professionals, welders, and more,” said BRCC Chancellor Willie E. Smith, Ph.D. “Some classes must be taught in a hands-on format, while others like general education courses can properly function as online offerings. We also recognize some courses can be offered as a hybrid model that allows classroom instruction to take place virtually with labs happening in-person. Due to the variety of offerings and deliverance of them, our team has spent months crafting plans and opportunities for immeasurable growth to provide our students with the best accessibility possible during this very uncertain time.”
    Students are invited to review BRCC’s back to campus plan at www.mybrcc.edu, and also view the Academic Calendar which highlights important dates for Fall 2020, including the various entry points for fall classes. Baton Rouge Community College offers a 15-week, 12-week, and two 7-week course options each semester. It’s not too late to register for any of the upcoming sessions. A variety of institutional aid packages may be available to those eligible registrants.
    Baton Rouge Community College has eight educational sites located throughout the Capital Region and enrolls approximately 8,000 students and has over 500 employees.
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    Mobile hotspots, laptops available to EBR students

     The East Baton Rouge Parish School System  has launched an online resource for families to sign up for mobile hotspots and devices to accommodate students for its all-virtual model.

    As of now, students will learn virtually starting Aug. 10  through Labor Day. Families in need of internet connectivity or devices should fill out a TechReady form by clicking here.

    Officials say schools will continue to hold device distributions to equip each child with the tools they need. Families are encouraged to reach out to their child’s school for assistance or by clicking here for additional resources. The EBRPSS I.T. department will launch a new helpdesk to help families, students, and staff on Aug. 3. The new helpdesk will be available by clicking here.

     

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    Total Teen Takeover 2020 to feature Dee-1

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Healthy Blue, in collaboration with The Safety Place and the Big Buddy Program, are hosting Total Teen Takeover 2020 next week. Baton Rouge youth agencies and business partners are collaborating to provide a myriad of experiences designed to help attendees live a healthy and safe life. The online community event for teenagers will be held Saturday, August 8, 2020, from noon to 3:30 p.m.

    One highly anticipated addition to TTT is a performance by national Hip Hop artist Dee-1, who will also have a one-on-one conversation with Mayor Broome regarding issues facing teens in 2020.

    “COVID-19 has caused us to reimagine how we engage and empower our youth in the absence of in-person programs,” said Mayor Broome. “Our youth programming partners continue to demonstrate their commitment to designing a robust digital experience that not only engages high school students but also creates a foundation of skills to prepare them for their future and beyond.”

    TTT will focus on the mental health of our youth in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Partners will provide information about resources youth can access to help them achieve healthy, safe, and productive lives.

    “Healthy Blue is proud to partner with local area agencies and businesses to ensure the youth of our community remain connected during these uncertain times,” said Aaron Lambert, plan president, Healthy Blue. “We continue to provide our community with resources that promote health and wellness, and enable emotional and social support. These efforts are part of Healthy Blue’s coordinated response to COVID-19 for members, local community organizations, healthcare workers and frontline responders.”

    The first 100 registrants will receive a special “Quaranteen” kit, a pre-mailed box of event essentials, snacks and various TTT items.

    Due to COVID-19, the program will utilize a virtual platform to deliver programming to the community. Interested youth and parents should register for this FREE event a twww.totalteentakeover.org

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  • Michael R.D. Adams takes helm of 100 Black Men

    The 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge has elected Baton Rouge attorney, Michael R.D. Adams, as its new chairman of the Board and president. Adams was a part of the original group of men who formed the Baton Rouge chapter of 100 Black Men in 1993.

    “I wasn’t there on day one, but I was there on day two ready to work,” Adams said of his initial involvement. “The perspective I’ve gained after 27 years of being a part of this organization and watching it grow uniquely positions me to build upon the successes of the past. 2020 has shown us that we still have work to do…our job is to create new ways of delivery while being relevant and impactful,” said Adams.

    100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge is a corps of member volunteers actively influencing and transforming the lives of underrepresented and disenfranchised youth, with a focus on Blacks.  The 100 addresses systemic issues and bridges opportunity gaps for Black youth.

    Michael R.D. Adams is sown in as president of the 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge

    Michael R.D. Adams is sown in as president of the 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge on July 29, 2020. Photo provided.

    A longtime resident of Baton Rouge, Adams is a partner at Decuir, Clark, and Adams LLP. After a decorated undergraduate career at Southern University, where he served as Student Government President, Adams went on to graduate from Southern University Law Center in 1988, and practices in the area of complex commercial litigation.

    Throughout his tenure as a member and board member of The 100, Adams has championed the cause of mentoring youth in order to provide a direct impact on the Baton Rouge community.  He assisted in the formation of 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge’s Back to School Expo which, in its five years, aided over 10,000 students and families with the tools and information necessary to return to school.  Adams’ goals are to shepherd his new leadership team to continue to embrace the fundamentals of mentoring with an emphasis on Health and Wellness and Social Justice.

    “It is with mixed emotions that I pass the gavel to Michael Adams,” said outgoing president Fred Sibley, “I will miss leading this exceptional group of men and I am proud of all we have accomplished.  I know that The 100 is in outstanding hands under the leadership of President Adams.  The organization will benefit from the combination of his experience in the 100, his knowledge of the Baton Rouge community, and his vision for the future.”

    Executive director Brace Trey Godfrey said, “A change in leadership is a significant moment in the history of any organization, and this change is no different.  I remain deeply grateful to past president Fred Sibley for welcoming me in as executive director and leading The 100 into a new era of leadership and service.  I am equally enthusiastic about the leadership of President Adams and look forward to working with him and the Board as we push for real, dynamic change that transforms lives and reinforces our collective commitment to our communities.”

    Read more »
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    Elected Unopposed!

    More than 225 residents in East Baton Rouge and Tangipahoa parishes have qualified as candidates for city council, judge, U.S. Congress, justice of the peace, and constable in the Nov. 3. election. Many boast community activism and previous work in government or business as reasons to their run. Of those who qualified, 25 candidates in EBR and 23 in Tangipahoa were elected without opposition, including both parishes’ district attorneys Hillar Moore and Scott Perilloux. Others elected without opposition are:

    In East Baton Rouge Parish

    • Court of Appeal 1st Circuit Judge John Michael Guidry
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Don Johnson
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Trudy White
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Wilson E. Fields
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Tarvald A. Smith
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Ronald Johnson
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Beau Higginbotham
    • 19th Judicial District Judge William A. Morvant
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Tim Kelley
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Div. H Fred Crifasi
    • 19th Judicial District Judge Div. I Kelly Balfour
    • District Attorney Hillar Moore
    • Juvenile Court Judge Adam Haney
    • Juvenile Court Judge Gail Grover
    • Family Court Judge Lisa Woodruff-White
    • Family Court Judge Charlene Charlet Day
    • Family Court Judge Pamela Baker
    • Councilman Dist 3 Rowdy Gaudet
    • Baker City Court Judge Kirk A Williams
    • Justice of the Peace Lynda Austin
    • Justice of the Peace Brooke Peay
    • Justice of Peace Tracy Batieste-Woodard
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Lee M. Russell
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Darin David
    • Constable Justice of the Peace David Wade

    In Tangipahoa Parish

    • 21st District A Judge Jeff Johnson
    • 21st District B Judge Charlotte Foster
    • 21st District C Judge Erika Sledge
    • 21st District D Judge Brian Abels
    • 21st District E Judge Brenda Ricks
    • 21st District I Judge Blair Edwards
    • 21st District J Judge Jeffry Cashe
    • 21st District K Judge Jeffery Oglesbee
    • District Attorney 21st Judicial District Scott M. Perrilloux
    • Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace Ward 1 Irma Robertson
    • Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace Ward 2 Vicki Y. Blades
    • Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace Ward 3 Tonya Mabry
    • Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace Ward 4 Angela Ballard
    • Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace Ward 5 Deborah Brunett
    • Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace Ward 6 Terry Crosby
    • Justice of the Peace Justice of the Peace Ward 8 Cynthia Jenkins
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Ward 1 Lemmie Chapman III
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Ward 2 Dickie R. Blades
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Ward 3 Anthony “Butch” Robinson
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Ward 4 Teresa Crowe Grace Holden
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Ward 5 Louis “Buddy” Easley
    • Constable Justice of the Peace Ward 6 Phillip David Ridder Jr.
    • Council Member District 2, Town of Amite City Jonathon Foster
    Read more »
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    NAACP selects Alaina Boothe to lead social justice

    Attorney Alaina Boothe has been selected as new social justice chair for the NAACP Baton Rouge Branch. She serves as a first felony assistant public defender and the director of students at the Baton Rouge Office of Public Defender. She is also the latest recipient of the Gideon’s Promise 2020 Public Defender Ambassador Award for her work with helping the chapter raise funds from to bail out 10 women for Christmas. A native of New Orleans, Boothe earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Southern University and a juris doctorate from the Southern University Law Center. She is a former first grade teacher and graduate of the Gideon Promise’s Class of 2017.

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    Cleve Dunn Jr announces candidacy for EBR metrocouncil

    After playing a significant role in managing several political campaigns and actively being a voice for the community, Baton Rouge airport commissioner Cleve Dunn Jr. has announced his candidacy for metro council District 6.

    For many in the community, he is known as a strategic thinker and leader. He said these assets aid him in being the most impactful candidate for Metro and he will use these skills to bring “a fresh perspective in order to address the current challenges in the East Baton Rouge Parish.”

    After serving the district for 12 years, Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis terms out in December. Dunn said this was one of the key factors in choosing to run. “I’ve been approached in the past and asked to run for the District 6 Metro Council seat. I dismissed that ideal mainly because Donna Collins Lewis was in place as councilwoman and because the timing was not right for me.”

    Now is the time, he said.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic will have negative effects on city-parish budgets like never before seen. These are some major challenges that we have ahead of us and it’s important that we have people in office who have experience, influence, and a track record of getting things done. I feel I am that candidate who can get things done for district 6 residents and I humbly ask them for their support.” He said.

    A lifelong resident of Baton Rouge and business owner, Dunn said he is determined to bring components that have been missing in the district like industrial distribution, healthcare facilities, and a community center. He plans to focus on economic development strategies which include increasing contracting opportunities for local and disadvantaged business enterprises.

    “During these difficult times, we are faced with many challenges. As a parish we need to produce a comprehensive plan to address flooding and drainage, our DPW city employees deserve a long-overdue pay raise and district 6, and all of North Baton Rouge is in dire need for public-private partnerships to reduce blight and increase development in the area with more high paying jobs and contracting opportunities for local small businesses,” he said.

    Dunn is a chairman of the Baton Rouge Airport Board of Commissioners and a member of The North Baton Rouge Now Blue-Ribbon Commission, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Police Reform, and Community Engagement Committee, the Baton Rouge City-Parish Body Camera Committee, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome Police Policy Reform Advisory Committee.

    He co-chairs Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome North Baton Rouge Revitalization Transition Team. He is president of the Capitol High Alumni Association and serves on the board of the Angel’s Empowerment Organization and The Butterfly Society.

    He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Stacey Posey Dunn, for 22 years and they have two daughters. The election is scheduled for November 3.

    ONLINE: ElectCleveDunnJr.com

     

    Read more »
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    CareSouth, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church host COVID-19 drive-thru community testing, supplies giveaway, Saturday, July 11

    CareSouth Medical and Dental and Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church are hosting a COVID-19 Drive-thru Community Testing and Supplies Giveaway on Saturday, July 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Shiloh, 185 Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive, in Baton Rouge.

    CareSouth staff will be conducting the testing for up to 250 peopleYou must be tested first in order to receive the supplies. You must pre-register to get the test. Residents will stay in their cars for the testing and the supplies. No walkups are allowed. No more than four people per car for testing.

    The testing is open to anyone ages 12 and up with or without symptoms and with and without insurance. No doctor’s order required. There are no out-of-pocket expenses. If you have insurance, your insurance will be billed. If you don’t have insurance, CareSouth will cover the cost.

    “We’re excited to partner with Shiloh to help make COVID-19 testing more accessible to everyone in our community, especially those who are most at risk,” said Matthew Valliere, CareSouth CEO.  “Getting tested is the only way to help stop the spread.”

    “This is a great opportunity to bring the testing to our members, their families and the community at large,” said Rev. Fred Jeff Smith, Pastor of Shiloh.  “We’re very grateful to CareSouth for providing this service.”

    To pre-register, go to caresouth.org and fill out the registration form or call (225) 650-2000. The testing will be done on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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    Baton Rouge has new Poet Laureate: Brittany Marshall

    Brittany Marshall, the 2020-2021 Baton Rouge Poet Laureate! The North Baton Rouge native is an LSU alumna and high school English and literature teacher. As the next BR Poet Laureate, Brittany said: “This year I am looking forward to the life I will continue to live and sharing poems with the people of Baton Rouge!” She is Baton Rouge’s second Poet Laureate, following Christian “Cubs the Poet” Davenport whose term concludes this year. Poets are nominated and selected by the Baton Rouge Poet Laureate Selection Committee, a diverse group of poets, scholars, and literary experts. Mayor Sharon Weston Broom and a representative from the Baton Rouge Arts Council co-chair the committee. Hear her interview on AC23 with Chancelier “Zero” Skimore

    ONLINE: brats.org

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    LYFE Line Teen Summit begins July 22

    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity (LCHE), BREC, and Big Buddy Program of Baton Rouge announce the Second Annual LYFE Line Teen Summit, July 22-24, at the BREC Milton J. Womack Recreational Center, at 6201 Florida Blvd. in Baton Rouge.

    This  3-day camp designed to engage youth ages 12-17 in informative, interactive sessions and discussions. There will be a wide range of topics covered which include, but are not limited to, community safety and violence prevention, financial literacy, sexual risk avoidance, college and vocational readiness, and making healthy lifestyle choices. Doors open daily at 8:00 A.M. for “early bird” drop off with the summit beginning at 9:00 A.M. “It is our aspiration that each teen will leave the summit empowered to go out into their communities more aware of their voice and power and how to respond to everyday situations in positive ways,” said Alma C. Stewart, LCHE president. During the camp, youth will have an opportunity to learn about advocacy on topics youth care about and participate in a mock Town Hall meeting. “Young people have a lot on their minds and a lot to say. This is a safe space for them to be heard and focus their energy on achieving their goals and dreams,” says Stewart. In addition, the youth will have the opportunity to participate in games and other activities provided by BREC.

    Due to the current COVID 19 pandemic, precautionary measures will be taken during the summit, including requiring everyone to wear a mask.

    Registration for the summit is free and open to the public. Parental consent is required to attend. Space is limited, so anyone interested in participating is encouraged to act fast. For further information and online registration, please visit youthpeaceolympics.org.

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    EBR schools announces reopening plan

    The superintendent of the East Baton Rouge Parish School system, Warren Drake, has released an updated about the school system’s reopening plan for the 2020-21 school year.

    On Friday a message was sent out to parents although some reported not receiving the message.

    It stated:

     

    Dear EBRPSS Families,

    As we near the midpoint of our summer break, I want to reach out to all of you with a district update. First and foremost, I’d like to welcome Ms. Leslie Brown who will replace me on August 1, 2020, as Superintendent of Schools. I hope that all of you will welcome her just as you did with me five years ago. I have shared with her how fortunate we are as a district to have such a diverse, dedicated, and talented team serving our students. Ms. Brown and I have been in regular communication over the past few weeks. We share an unwavering commitment to a smooth transition to ensure the best teaching and learning environments for August 2020 and beyond. As you know, the decisions before us cannot be made lightly. None of us can predict the
    future. In the here and now, we must factor in local, state, and federal regulations and guidance as we make the best determinations to guide our entry into the upcoming school year. We share all of your concerns about the return to schools, and we recognize that there is not a perfect, one-size-fits-all solution. District staff is monitoring the COVID-19 data and related guidance from within our city, our state, and across the country. Locally, our numbers continue to increase, and it is predicted by some that a spike in positive cases will occur after the July 4th holiday. Regardless, we must find a way to move forward to meet the needs of our students, our employees, and the community we serve. I know many of you are anxious for a comprehensive and inclusive
    plan for August, but in my opinion, it is too early to commit to a definite scenario today. Given the information currently available and if we remain under Phase II on August 6th, here is a snapshot of the two most likely models presently in development:

    Option 1 – Students will begin school on August 6th in a 100% virtual learning environment. If governmental phases allow for it, on Wednesday, September 9, families will have a choice between continuing to learn virtually OR returning to school through a hybrid model permitting local and state guidance.

    Option 2 – If governmental phases allow for it, students will begin school on August 6th under a hybrid model. Within this model, students will attend school two days a week according to predetermined daily schedules. During the remaining three days of the week, students will learn virtually under the supervision of their classroom teachers. This model will afford us the ability to have 50% capacity or under on our campuses and buses at one time. This model will also allow time for cleaning and sanitation. Within this model, all students will have the option to select a 100% virtual learning experience if it is preferred.
    In each of these models and throughout our decision-making process, the health and safety of our students, staff, and their families remain our top priority. Physical distancing, group size, and personal protective equipment will be addressed in each and every decision. In order to do this, additional data is needed to finalize the remaining details of the operational plan. To help us with this, please take the time to complete our latest survey, so that we may have the most accurate data as possible when we release a detailed plan next week.

    https://forms.gle/5kf82BP2jYD4YwKX9

    In closing, I wish each of you a happy, safe, and restful month of July. Each of you, your families, and our students are ever-present in my thoughts and prayers. The past five years prove that the East Baton Rouge Parish School System is a resilient team, one that I will forever be proud to have served. I know your strength, positivity, and determination will continue to shine in the future. We look forward to a great school year ahead.

    Sincerely,

    Warren Drake

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    Pride and protest during the pandemic

    The month of June has been a time of visible pain across the world. From the swelling numbers of coronavirus cases and racial disparity in deaths to the protests against the consistent murders of unarmed Blacks by police officers, these are the times that people will be talking about for centuries to come.

    Like the rest of the world’s citizens, frustration and unrest increased for many in Louisiana as protesters took to the streets in Baton Rouge, Donaldsonville, Zachary, Port Allen, Shreveport, Lafayette, Lake Charles, and New Orleans in the wake of Minneapolis police killing George Floyd on May 25.

    In Baton Rouge, young activists, ministers, and families peacefully rallied at the state capitol, stopped traffic on Siegen Lane and Airline Highway, and marched to the home of District Attorney Hillar Moore, and spoke before the Louisiana legislature. Across the state, protesters have lined streets, removed Confederate monuments, and staged kneel-ins where they kneeled on one knee or laid on the ground symbolizing Floyd’s death.

    They have galvanized to end policies and systems that harm —even kill— Black people while calling for a redoubling of unity and support of Black businesses and the protection of Black lives.  Photographer Yusef Davis captured rallies and Juneteenth events that demonstrate the people’s pride and protests that are ongoing.   @ydphotoandart

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    Thirteen awarded the Nu Gamma Omega Chapter Debutante Award

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

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

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

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

     

    Photos provided by CWash Photography

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

     

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    SALUTE OUR SAILORS: Airman Octavish Morris

    MEDITERRANEAN SEA — Airman Octavish Morris, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sews medical-grade cloth face masks in the aviation paraloft aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2020. The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is conducting operations in U.S. 6th Fleet to support maritime security operations in international waters, alongside our allies and partners. Truman has spent at least one day underway for 30 of the last 34 months, in direct support of global security around the world.

    U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kelsey Trinh

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    ‘No Mask, No Service’ policy in effect in East Baton Rouge Parish

    Baton Rouge  Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome signed an executive order Wednesday to require all commercial and nonprofit entities in the East Baton Rouge Parish providing goods or services directly to the public to implement a “No Mask, No Service” policy.

    As of July 1, 2020, East Baton Rouge Parish has experienced 5,350 confirmed cases of COVID-19  and 271 confirmed deaths by the Louisiana Department of Health as a result of the disease.

    “This is an effort to protect the health and well-being of residents and visitors — and to assist in the safe reopening of the parish economy without the need for the stricter economic mitigation efforts put in place earlier this year,” said Mayor Broome. “The “No Mask, No Service” policy will help ensure our businesses can remain open and safely serve customers. My message to our community is simple: save a life, save our economy, and wear a face covering.”

    The executive order requires, at minimum, that all employees and visitors wear face coverings when in an area or while performing an activity that will involve close contact or proximity with the public. The “No Mask – No Service” Policy must be posted near all entrances and in clear view of any employees or members of the public entering the business.

    During his press conference earlier today, Governor John Bel Edwards stated support for Broome’s mandate as well as others around the state.

    “I want you to know that I appreciate the decision on her part, I also support similar mask mandates that have been put in place in Orleans Parish and in Jefferson Parish by LaToya Cantrell and Parish President Lee Shang,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.

    The business community reached out to Mayor Broome for extra time to comply with the executive order, and to further support the effort. The executive order will be effective July 3, 2020, at noon through August 3, 2020 and will be re-evaluated before August 3, 2020.

    The Baton Rouge Fire Department and the Baton Rouge Police Department will be authorized to enforce the order.

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    Southern University launches THC line of medical cannabis products

    The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, part of the Southern University System, together with Ilera Holistic Healthcare (Ilera Holistic), became the nation’s first historically Black university to launch its own THC medical cannabis products. The university and Ilera share one of two cannabis licenses in the state of Louisiana. The launch of this historic brand, called AYO, comes on the heels of Louisiana’s unprecedented extension in June of its own medical marijuana program.

    SU Ag Center chancellor Orlando McMeans PhD

    SU Ag Center chancellor Orlando McMeans PhD

    “This is yet another great and historic day for the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center,” said Orlando McMeans, chancellor of the Ag Center, during a press conference July 1. “The goal of this program is to provide quality medicine for the citizens of the state of Louisiana through education, research and outreach, all of which are included in the mission of the Ag Center. The release of AYO, along with our CBD products, will enable us to help patients better manage their medical issues and improve their quality of life.”

    The AYO line joins the ALAFIA product brand, a hemp-derived tincture developed by Southern and Ilera.  ALAFIA launched on January 25 in the Louisiana market, making Southern University the first HBCU producer in both cannabis and hemp.  ALAFIA will be available online nationwide later this summer.

    “With the launch of both CBD and THC medical marijuana products, Southern continues to set precedents in innovation,” said Ray L. Belton,PhD. president of the Southern University System. “In addition to providing healthcare options for Louisiana residents, our valued partner, Ilera, is able to hire local talent. All of this impacts our state’s economy directly while expanding the Southern University brand.”

    Southern’s medical marijuana program is part of the Ag Center’s Southern Institute for Medicinal Plants led by Janana Snowden,PhD, the institute’s director and an assistant professor of agriculture at Southern University Baton Rouge. The institute and Ag Center have long researched plants such as hibiscus in addition to cannabis.

    “The very important research we conduct on medicinal plants helps us to address health problems that affect communities,” Snowden said. “Our products derived from medicinal plants offer patients another way to alleviate symptoms. We are proud that we can be part of many potential solutions.”

    AYO has been launched at a time that Louisiana has expanded laws to potentially allow more patients to choose medical marijuana for treatment. On June 11, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law ACT No 286, allowing any state-licensed physician to recommend medical marijuana to any of their patients to find relief for any condition.

    Chanda Macias

    Chanda Macias

    “ACT No 286 makes clear that Louisiana residents want full access to medical cannabis and the right to discuss alternative healthcare options with their doctors,” said Chanda Macias, chief executive officer for Ilera Holistic Healthcare. “We are grateful to the entire state legislature in welcoming our input throughout the long history of this bill and listening to the voices of our patients, advocates, doctors and industry colleagues. We had one common goal, which was to bring greater access to medicine for all patients in our great state.”

    AYO is scientifically formulated, lab-tested, pesticide-free, and only available in the state of Louisiana. To learn more about AYO and cannabis medicine, please visit www.ileraholistichealthcare.com.

    By LaKeeshia Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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    Life Source Hospice gives thanks, feeds Frontline workers

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

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

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

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

     

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    BRAC to assess impact of coronavirus on Black-owned businesses

    The Baton Rouge Area Chamber launched a survey this afternoon to assess the economic impact of the novel coronavirus on Black-owned businesses in the Capital Region and to identify barriers to recovery.

    Currently, data of COVID-19’s economic impact on Black-owned businesses does not exist at a regional or national level, BRAC said. It has been widely reported that the virus has had devastating impacts on Black communities throughout the country.

    The survey, modeled after the U.S. Census Bureau’s weekly Small Business Pulse Survey, will allow BRAC and its partners to compare the regional data to a national small business “norm.” With the results, the agency aims to address the barriers to recovery for Black-owned businesses and to uncover disparate impacts of the stay-at-home orders and restrictions.

    “We know, for example, that minority-owned businesses have not applied for federal relief funding at rates equivalent to white-owned businesses,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of BRAC. “We need to know what the specific challenges are, so that we can recommend and implement specific solutions. Meaningful progress around economic inclusion and recovery relies a good deal on meaningful data.”

    Click here for the survey, or visit brac.org/recovery for more information.

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    April Dunn Act signed furthering her legacy, work with disability affairs

    The Louisiana Legislature has renamed the Act 833 of 2014 as the April Dunn Act following the unexpected death the 33-year-old advocate for people with disabilities. Dunn was a dedicated staff member of the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs. Because of Dunn, countless students with disabilities in Louisiana now have a pathway to earn a high school diploma. She was a tremendous asset to our team and to the state of Louisiana. Her enthusiasm and passion for life made a difference in everyone she came in contact with, and her work improved the lives of all Louisianans, including those with disabilities. She died March 28, 2020, of complications from COVID-19. With the Governor’s signature, the April Dunn Act became Act 1 of 2020, which further cements her legacy.

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    MOVEBR program on track to exceed local small business participation target

    Mayor expects more than $57 million in preconstruction spending with small businesses

    Hoping to achieve at least 20% in small business participation in the MOVEBR program, Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced the program is on track to exceed that number with current spending committed for preconstruction services at 40% for small businesses and a forecast of at least 33% over the life of the program, excluding program management services.

    Mayor Broome said increased participation by local small, minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses is a result of the requirements she made that the program management team conduct outreach to educate local small businesses on the program’s contracting opportunities and how to access the City-Parish procurement and selection processes.

    “More than ever, this investment in local small businesses is directly supporting our local economy,” Broome said. “This is the largest infrastructure program in the history of East Baton Rouge Parish, and it should not only be an investment in better traffic flow and safer streets; it should also be an investment in the people and small businesses that are the backbone of our community. In today’s current economic environment, the impact of MOVEBR is even more beneficial.”

    The MOVEBR program has currently committed approximately $46 million for preconstruction activities, excluding cost of property and utility relocations, with small businesses contracted to provide 40% of those services. By the completion of the program, the amount of local small business spending on preconstruction activities is forecast to exceed $57 million.

    The total preconstruction services spending on MOVEBR projects that are currently active amounts to over $30 million on capacity projects and over $16 million on corridor enhancement projects.

    Since kicking off the MOVEBR program, the City-Parish has worked with the program management team to hold workshops, converted to webinars when in-person meetings were cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis, to inform local small businesses on opportunities to participate. These workshops provided information about the professional services needed on MOVEBR projects, how to access and apply to be a City-Parish vendor, and networking opportunities for large and small businesses interested in teaming to pursue work together.

    The City-Parish and MOVEBR program management team also worked together to provide small contracting opportunities along with the larger projects that offered openings for small businesses to provide services.

    “My commitment was that MOVEBR would be the industry standard of excellence for delivering transportation with a diverse network of small businesses that shared in the work,” Broome said. “By exceeding the target we set for ourselves, the MOVEBR program is helping to keep East Baton Rouge Parish strong.”

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    Our children, colleagues, friends are worth fighting for

    Black people in Baton Rouge have been on the racial battlefield for a long time. They resisted and revolted on sugar plantations. They fought in segregated military units. They joined forces to integrate everything from pools to schools to buses. More recently, Black people in Baton Rouge mobilized others to tackle the tough challenge that is the disproportionate use of excessive force against Black bodies after the July 2016 killing of Alton Sterling and live without the constant great of anti-Black violence in all forms.

    Four years later, Black people in Baton Rouge have answered the call for solidarity with the family of beloved, father, brother, uncle, and friend, Mr. George Floyd, and with individuals and organizations that have finally come to the realization that enough is enough.

    Enough is enough of blaming individuals for their own deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers or ordinary white citizens. It wasn’t what they were wearing or whether complied with commands in the long and growing lists of unnatural Black deaths and Black suffering. As was the case in the past and is still the case today, their greatest offense was being born in or moving to a nation that has historically and in contemporary times refused to see their humanity.

    As horrifying and traumatic as it is to watch the killing of George Floyd and witness the paralysis of the bystanders who likely felt too powerless to intervene, what Black Baton Rouge saw was not beyond their comprehension. Black deaths and Black suffering have a long history in the city, parish, state, and nation. While Louisiana ranks at the bottom of many indicators of overall well being relative to other states and the District of Columbia, the situation is often far worse for Black people. It is not surprising that Black people are over-represented among Covid-19 related deaths. It is imperative that fight includes justice for George Floyd and others and relief from the daily Black misery that accompanies persistent racial inequities.

    It is both great so many non-Black people are joining the most recent public struggle for racial justice in America but it is also sad because their presence often reflects an unwillingness to believe the testimony and lived experiences of Black people based on their own merits. As a society, we must believe Black people.

    It is frustrating for many Black people who have been trying for years to draw attention to America’s racialized social structure and its impacts on Black and white people alike to finally see more of a focus placed on race. It is also hard to come to the realization that most changes will be largely symbolic and short-lived.

    There will be time for asking all the tough questions like Why now? We have been trying to tell you. Why wouldn’t you listen? How could you do what you have done? Why should we trust you now?

    What we can do is what Black people in Baton Rouge and the nation have always done. We never given up or given in. We make something out of nothing. We embrace the participation from other groups understanding that their involvement and attention to Black life matters might not belong.

    We continue to live at a time when perceived gains for Black people are framed as losses for white people. The task before us is to move the arc a bit more toward justice. Our charge is to continue to disrupt systems until such a time that we can dismantle them.

    Engagement in social justice issues takes many forms. It is hard work and comes with many risks but our children, neighbors, family members, colleagues, and friends are worth fighting for.

    Lori Martin Ph.D.

    Lori Martin Ph.D.

     

    By Lori Latrice Martin, PhD
    Professor of Sociology and African and African American Studies
    Louisiana State University. She has three forthcoming books: The Religion of White Rage (Edinburgh University Press), Introduction to Africana Demography (Brill), and America in Denial (SUNY Press).
    Listen to her on Root Chaos on Podbean
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    CareSouth offers gift cards, Uber coupons to residents who get tested on National HIV Testing Day, June 27

    CareSouth Medical and Dental is offering $25 gift cards and $25 Uber Coupons to encourage residents to get tested as part of National HIV Testing Day on Saturday, June 27, 2020.

    The Baton Rouge clinic will be offering free HIV testing at 3140 Florida Boulevard. The testing will take place from 9 a.m. to noon. The first 25 people to get tested will receive the gift card and Uber coupon.  No appointment needed.  Walk ups are welcome.

    Nationally, Louisiana has the fifth highest rate of AIDS cases. African Americans, especially Black women, are most at risk, accounting for the majority of newly diagnosed HIV and AIDS cases.

    “Testing is the only way to know your status so we want to encourage everyone to take control of their health to help make our community better,” said CareSouth CEO Matthew Valliere.

    The testing will include a confidential finger prick blood test and pre-counseling and post counseling. Results are available immediately.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.2 million people in the United States have HIV and 14 percent don’t know they have it. The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine health care. People at higher risk should get tested more often.

     

     

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    Baker, BR commemorate 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott on Juneteenth

    The 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott, the first boycott of the segregated southern bus system which inspired the Montgomery Bus Boycott was commemorated on Juneteenth by Baker Mayor Darnell Waites and Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome at the CATS facility in Baton Rouge.

    wwj-0124_crop

    Mayor Sharon Weston Broome

    The Baton Rouge Bus Boycott was a defining moment in the Civil Rights movement and proved to be a catalyst of great influence; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his book Stride Toward Freedom, that a detailed “description of the Baton Rouge experience was invaluable” in the early stages of the Montgomery boycott. Rosa Parks’ biographer and Signpost scholar Douglas Brinkley says Mrs. Parks and other NAACP activists throughout the South monitored the developments in the Baton Rouge boycott very closely at the time.

    According to internationally known civil rights historian and Signpost advisor Adam Fairclough, “the Baton Rouge protest pioneered many of the techniques that became standard practice in the civil rights movement of the late 1950s and 1960s: mass non-violent protest, the leadership of Baptist ministers and the foundation of alternative transportation systems.”

    Submitted by the City of Baker

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    Black student leaders push, LSU Board of Supervisors approves removal of Middleton name from library

    During the June 19 meeting of the LSU Board of Supervisors, the board approved the recommendation to remove the name Troy H. Middleton from the main library at LSU.

    Prior to the academic committee meeting, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards spoke in support of removing the name from the library.

    “Obviously the Black student leaders at LSU are among the important voices that we need to listen to … In fact, LSU students of all races and backgrounds are telling us it is time for their library to represent someone that everybody, every student can be proud of, and I support them,” Edwards said. “It is time for the name of the library to be changed. Simply put, and this gets to the heart of the matter: in 2020 and going forward, LSU students shouldn’t be asked to study in a library named for someone who didn’t want them to be LSU students. We can do better. We can be better.”

    UnknownIn accordance with the board policy on naming of university facilities and Permanent Memorandum 2, LSU’s Naming Committee took up the matter of removing the name of Troy H. Middleton from the main LSU library. The matter was approved unanimously and endorsed by the appropriate university officials before being presented to the Board of Supervisors.

    LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Mary Werner said that part of the job of an institution of higher learning is to examine the questions that society has and to learn from those who have come before us. She added, it is important to bring forward proposals that help move LSU forward such as the renaming of the library and to recognize not only a painful past but to reconcile it so that all students have equal opportunities.

    “History will not be erased. It is well-documented. But today we can change the mission that is LSU by welcoming every student, young and old, black and white, any nationality, that they are welcomed, their comments, their studies, their work here is valued and respected,” Werner said.

    Middleton, an infantry officer during multiple engagements in both World Wars, served as LSU president from 1952 to 1961. In spite of his many accomplishments, documents have been made public showing Middleton’s role in advocating for and continuing segregationist policies and practices despite a Supreme Court ruling allowing full access and participation of Blacks in University life.

    The University Naming Committee considered all of the factors pertaining to Middleton and acknowledged his stellar military career and service to LSU. However, the committee voted to remove the name of Middleton from the library based on his efforts to deny Black American citizens from enjoying the equal rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution.

    Interim President Tom Galligan said that it is significant and moving that today’s board actions are taking place on Juneteenth, or Freedom Day. He asked that it be a day of reflection for the LSU community.

    “Juneteenth commemorates the freedom of the last enslaved Blacks in America, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation,” Galligan said. “While it’s cause for celebration, let this also be a day of reflection for LSU and our country as we work towards true equality and freedom for all.”

    During her chair’s report, Werner shared that diversity training will be established across all departments at LSU and in August, the board will establish a new standing committee, pending board approval, the Committee on Social, Equity, Justice and Inclusion.

    “Let us continue the work we have begun,” Werner said. “We must continue the hard conversations.”

    Separately, Galligan outlined the steps LSU is taking to reopen for the fall semester and his optimism for bringing students back to campus for instruction in August.

    “First and foremost, safety will continue to be our guidepost – safety for our students, safety for our faculty, safety for our staff and visitors,” Galligan said. “And the plans are subject to change based on the evolving COVID situation.”

    Chancellors from the other LSU campuses around the state also shared similar plans for reopening their campuses to students.

    Some highlights of the return to campus plans included following guidelines for face masks, physical distancing, handwashing and enhanced cleaning. Regarding classes, classroom occupancy will be kept to 50 percent capacity, and some classes will be in person and some will be a hybrid of in-person instruction and online portions. The university will also implement testing protocols and contract tracing methods.

     

    Photo from LSU Reveille

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    Residents in need invited to Drive-thru food distribution, June 20

    A drive-thru food distribution will be held  Saturday, June 20, at Glen Oaks High School, 6650 Cedar Grove Drive, Baton Rouge, beginning at 9 a.m. Boxes of nutritious food will be provided for up to 1,000 families from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Residents in need of a food box for their household are encouraged to arrive early.

    The event is intended to support residents who face food insecurity because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank is joined by State Senator Regina Barrow, State Representative Edmond Jordan, Metro Councilwoman Erika Green, and East Baton Rouge Parish School Board Representative Dadrius Lanus to  co-sponsor the event.

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    Inaugural Unified Juneteenth Caravan kicks off at 11am, June 19 in Baton Rouge

    The Baton Rouge African American Museum, Community Against Drugs and Violence, and State Representative C Denise Marcelle celebrate Juneteenth together in solidarity on June 20th.  In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, for the first time in Baton Rouge the three entities that host annual Juneteenth celebrations are unifying in one common effort:  The Inaugural Unified Juneteenth Caravan 2020.

    The caravan will allow the community to recognize this dynamic national holiday, observe social distancing and fulfill our mission to bring all Americans together to celebrate our common bond of freedom through the recognition, observance, education and historic preservation of Juneteenth in America.

    Standing together in this citywide initiative, The Baton Rouge African American Museum, CADAV, and State Representative C Denise Marcelle are supporting legislation for the formation of Juneteenth as a state holiday, unity and appreciation for diversity in our society, police reform and social justice, voting rights, and economic growth in underserved communities.

    The Baton Rouge African American Museum is the only cultural and historical museum in the capital city that highlights African American Achievers.  Its mission is to educate the public about the contributions African Americans have made to the growth and development of this country.  The museum was founded by the late Sadie Roberts-Joseph who was also the State Juneteenth Director.  Her motto was “Culture is the glue that binds a people together.  Step back in time and leap into your future.”

    CADAV’s president Pat LeDuff said this is an opportunity to unite the three major Juneteenth festivals into one celebration. She looks forward to this collaboration being the first step towards a week-long celebration that will reflect progress in food and mental health access, better education and wages, better streets, economic development, and less police brutality.

    State Representative C. Denise Marcelle said she is “excited about the opportunity to collaborate with the Baton Rouge African American Museum in the first year following the tragic murder of Civil Rights Activist and museum founder Sadie Roberts-Joseph.  In the current climate of the pandemic and civil unrest, our unified efforts are of particular importance in supporting peace and civil rights.”

    The Juneteenth Caravan will line up at 10:30 AM on Saturday June 20th at Memorial Stadium where registered participants will remain with their vehicles for a brief Juneteenth presentation by Judge John Michael Guidry. It will travel throughout the city from 22nd, to North Street, to Gus Young, North Foster, Evangeline, Plank Road, and 72nd Avenue ending at Scenic Hwy.

     

    To join the inaugural Unified Juneteenth Caravan 2020, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/inaugural-social-distance-juneteenth-caravan-tickets-108907665760?aff=ebdssbeac.  Registration fees begin at $25 for the general public and $100 for elected officials and political candidates.  Proceeds will be donated to the Baton Rouge African American Museum.

    Donations can be made at https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8gAKdRNCJt

     

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    Members of the community ask EBR School Board to condemn Bernard’s comments on Robert E. Lee

    Dear Editor,

    The East Baton Rouge School System is one that serves over 81% African-American students. From the time of the inception of this nation, African-American children and their families were barred from the American education system. Now, 13 years after the closing of the longest desegregation order in the United States, and four years after the removal of “Robert E.” from Lee High’s name, Baton Rouge children are still subjected to the bigotry that called for segregation to exist in the first place.

    School Board Member Connie Bernard recently repeated some false, revisionist history during an interview concerning a name change for Lee High. As a representative of a board dedicated to educating over 45,000 children, she is complicit in the oppression of black children in this parish and the spreading of historically inaccurate information to those who look to understand American History.

    According to Sean Kane, writer for the American Civil War Museum, Robert E. Lee inherited and owned 189 enslaved people, whom he worked tirelessly to fulfill a debt, instead of fulfilling his father-in-law’s wish to have those enslaved people freed in five years as the will suggested; he instead petitioned the court to keep them further in bondage. He also petitioned the court to extend their period of enslavement, and according to the narratives of those enslaved, inflicted cruel punishments to those who attempted to escape their life of bondage.

    The members of our organizations are concerned by School Board Member Bernard’s words and actions. Her interview demonstrates that she values Robert E. Lee and the systemic racism that he represents far more than the students and families that she has committed to serve as a member of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. Mrs. Bernard’s vote to merely remove Lee’s first name from the school name was a betrayal four years ago and her recent comments show that she has no desire to acknowledge the traumas that Black students and their families have suffered at the hands of oppressors like Robert E. Lee. She’d rather glorify a myth, than work to remove symbols doing real harm to the children in our district.

    We call upon the East Baton Rouge School Board, to act in the best interest of all children in our district and rename Lee High in honor of someone who worked in the collective interest of all children. We also condemn the words of Board Member Connie Bernard and suggest her resignation from the board effective immediately.

    One of the pillars of the East Baton Rouge School System is building trust within the community, and trust cannot be built if board members are actively spreading false history and voting to keep racist symbols in place.

    Sincerely,

    South Louisiana Coalition for Education
    Progressive Social Network of Baton Rouge

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    Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith awarded AAP fellowship

    The Academy of American Poets has awarded Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith a  prestigious Laureate Fellowship, given to honor poets of literary merit serving in civic positions around the country.

    Smith, who was named to the Poet Laureate position in 2019 by Governor John Bel Edwards, received $50,000 as part of the award to produce meaningful, impactful and innovative projects in Louisiana. In partnership with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and local schools, Smith will conduct youth poetry workshops in four under-resourced parishes in northeast Louisiana’s Delta parishes.

    “As we face the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more people are turning to poetry for comfort and courage. We are honored and humbled in this moment of great need to fund poets who are talented artists and community organizers, who will most certainly help guide their communities forward,” said Jennifer Benka, president and executive director of the Academy of American Poets.

    Smith joins 23 other poets around the country who received a Laureate Fellowship. He earned a master of fine arts at the University of New Orleans and is the author of four published collections of poetry.

    A Cave Canem fellow, Smith has directed Education’s Next Horizon and teaches English at Southern University in Baton Rouge.

    Smith’s poems have appeared in numerous literary journals across the country, including Ploughshares, Callaloo, North American Review and Missouri Review, and he is the winner of the 2019 Linda Hodge Bromberg Poetry Award. Much of his poetry draws upon African American history and his personal experiences of growing up and living in the South.

    The Academy of American Poets has awarded 23 individuals with Laureate Fellowships to lead civic poetry programs in their respective communities in the year ahead. They will each receive $50,000 for a combined total of $1.1 million. The Academy also awarded the LEH a $9,000 matching gift in support of Louisiana Poet Laureate programming.

    The fellowship program is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    ONLINE: www.leh.org

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    ‘We must do better protecting our Black Women’ says LSU organization following Kinnedy Smith’s murder

    Baton Rouge Police arrested the man accused of fatally stabbing Kinnedy Smith, a 21-year-old Shreveport native over the weekend. According to police, 27-year-old Connor Regan, stabbed Smith to death during a domestic dispute and has been charged with second-degree murder.

    Smith graduated from Louisiana State University in December 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and Spanish. Her friends described her as a selfless, bright soul to everyone she came in contact with. She also participated in community service and advocacy work in Ecuador and Columbia. She was working as an intake specialist at Dudley DeBosier law firm in Baton Rouge.

    The LSU Black Women’s Empowerment Initiative penned this letter about Smith’s passing calling for justice and better protection of Black women.

    Kinnedy Smith letter

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    Free COVID-19 testing, supplies at Living Faith on June 9

    CareSouth Medical and Dental and other community partners are hosting a COVID-19 Drive-thru Community Testing and Household Supplies and Mask Giveaway at Living Faith Christian Center, 6375 Winbourne Avenue, in Baton Rouge on Saturday, June 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    The testing is open to anyone ages 12 and up with or without symptoms and with and without insurance. Pre-registration is required online at caresouth.org or by calling (225) 650-2000. No doctor’s order required. There are no out-of-pocket expenses. If you have insurance, your insurance will be billed. If you don’t have insurance, CareSouth will cover the cost.
    You must be tested first in order to receive the supplies.  Residents will stay in their cars for the testing and the supplies. No walkups are allowed. No more than 4 people per car for testing. Testing will be done on a first-come, first-serve basis for up to 300 people.
    Volunteers from Big Simon Trucking and upCHILD Mentoring Services as well as other organizations will be assisting in the effort.
    The event is being co-sponsored by Attorney Gordon McKernan, community activist Jamie Robinson, Living Faith, and the Southern University Ag Center. Rep. C. Denise Marcelle. McKernan and Robinson are donating the supplies and masks.
    ONLINE:caresouth.org
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    Songs of Hope concert with David Sylvester scheduled for June 5

    VIPS is having a virtual Songs of Hope concert featuring songs requested by the public performed by phenomenal singer-songwriter, David Sylvester Jr.   The song requests are songs that bring encouragement, joy, and hopefulness when needed.  Tune into VIPS YouTube page to see him discuss his thoughts about the impact of music and his inspirations as a musician.  The concert is Friday, June 5, 2020, at 6pm

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    EBR Council on Aging offers free COVID testing for seniors, June 8-19

    The East Baton Rouge Council On Aging will have free COVID-19 testing at the Capital City Event Center, 6995 Florida Blvd, June 8-19, 11am-3pm. All testing will be provided by CareSouth and there will be no cost for Medicare patients. Pick up a registration packet at a Senior center closest to you. Testing is offered to all seniors across EBR Parish.

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    ‘Reach Your Fullest Potential’

    Masked up and practicing physical distancing, McKinley Senior High School senior Micah Jones tells East Baton Rouge Parish 2020 graduates to “do all you can do to reach your fullest potential.” Read Jones’ speech along with former President Barack Obama’s speech to 2020 graduates. Applauding our grads with unique celebrations. Mobile COVID testing comes to needed neighborhoods. DrumRolls! Farewell to the lives taken by the coronavirus.

    Review the Graduation issue here.

     

     

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    Mayor Broome declares Day of Mourning and Fasting

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome joins mayors across the country in recognizing Monday, June 1, as a National Day of Mourning and Lament to mark the death of 100,000 people in the U.S. from COVID-19.
    She will host a dial-in Prayer Vigil at 8am on Monday, June 1. Participants can join at 1-408-418-9388, access code: 966 112 656.
    Broome and The Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge invite the public to join in acknowledging the suffering, praying together for the healing of the nation, and recommitting to the difficult work ahead.
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  • ,,

    EBRP libraries move into Phase 2 to serve patrons

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Library will move into Phase 2 of its phased re-opening process starting Monday, June 1.

    “Although we were pleased to offer digital services over the past weeks, and then to expand access on May 20 with call ahead/pickup services and more extensive phone and online reference help, we are now ready to increase access by opening significant portions of the public service spaces in our buildings. We have successfully completed our first phase of preparations, which included reconfiguring furnishings, establishing appropriate social distancing provisions, and accepting and quarantining a large influx of returned library items. We also have secured sufficient special supplies and materials to help maintain an elevated level of preventive intervention. As the details of this phase of our reopening explain below, there are some changes and new procedures that will be necessary with the use of library public spaces. We appreciate that this will require a certain level of adjustment, but we hope that everyone can work with us to make their library experience as safe and rewarding as possible,” said library director Spencer Watts. 

    In Phase 2 of the Library’s Re-opening Plan, the following services will be available to our patrons:

    • Libraries open doors to the public to provide use of PCs, Wi-Fi, and fresh checkouts of material

    Library locations will open to the public from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. through 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m. through 6 p.m. on Sunday.

    The new River Center Branch will open later in June; its opening date has been pushed back due to delays in furniture and equipment installation. 

    Telephone assistance is available as usual at all 14 locations during these hours.

    • As required by City-Parish, all patrons entering Library buildings must wear a face mask or other personal protective equipment (PPE)
    • Because of the need to increase distance between workstations, a reduced number of Public PCs will be available on a “reservations” basis:
      • Please call the Reference Desk at your desired location to make a reservation
      • Reservations for slots during the first hour the Library is opened may be placed the day before
      • Headphones will not be available; please bring your own
      • Keyboard and mice will be cleaned after each use
      • Public PCs will be available until 15 minutes before closing
      • Printing, copying and faxing will be available
      • Computers and Wi-Fi are temporarily unavailable at the Delmont Gardens Branch due to connectivity issues
    • Wi-Fi will be available inside and outside from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. at all 14 locations

    Seating will be limited; physical distance will be maintained between seating, tables and computers

    • Protective Measures:
      • Acrylic sneeze guards will be placed at service desks and visual reminders related to social distancing will be in use at each location
      • Hand sanitizer will be available at each location
      • PPE will be in use by staff at each location; masks are mandatory
      • Expanded cleaning protocols and an accelerated schedule for disinfecting and deep cleaning at each location
    • The Library collection will be considered “Closed Stacks” during this time period; this protective measure will help prevent exposure to the virus
      • Patrons may call ahead to locate materials, or reserve items as usual.
      • Patrons who come in person will need to request materials directly from Library staff. Library staff will then search the shelves for desired books or AV materials and bring them directly to patrons to minimize contact
      • Patrons will be able to check out their materials via Self Check Kiosks at all locations or receive assistance at Circulation Services
    • Call Ahead/ Drive Through/ Pick Up Service will continue at all locations, so that patrons who want to minimize contact may do so
    • Library materials may be returned to any location; items that are trapped to fulfill Reservations will be quarantined for 72 hours before becoming available to the patron who is “on Hold”
    • The library encourages patrons to reserve the first hour of service for seniors and those with compromised immune systems; please consider arriving at or after 10 a.m. if you are not in that category
    • Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult or care-taker
    • Staff will monitor occupancy of the library and as necessary, limit the number of patrons who may be inside at any given time; occupancy limits will need to be strictly enforced
    • Payments will only be accepted through the usual online credit card service

     

    A detailed Phase Plan is available digitally in the June edition of the Library’s The Sourcemonthly newsletter at https://www.ebrpl.com/Source/Source202006.pdf.

    To find information on the coronavirus (COVID-19), visit the InfoGuide athttp://ebrpl.libguides.com/coronavirus. More about the Library and any of its free programs, events and resources can be found online at www.ebrpl.com.

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    Grads: ‘Stay resilient, pursue every ambition, have courage, set the world on a different path’

    In speech after speech, 2020 graduates are being encouraged and celebrated in unprecedented fashion from outdoor celebrations like the one hosted at the Louisiana Leadership Institute to virtual commencement speeches by national leaders and celebrities like former President Barack Obama and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Every speech uniquely resonates a message of resilience and challenge for grads to improve the world especially in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic.

    To the graduating seniors of East Baton Rouge Parish, State Senator Cleo Fields said, “When we see you, we see great things and we see success.” On May 19, Fields and the LLI board organized a parish-wide graduation celebration, recognizing top grads with awards from area sponsors. “If it’s any class that deserves recognition, it’s this class,” he said.

    Micah Jones, LLI student president and 2020 graduate of McKinley High School, echoed that sentiment in this speech during the ceremony:

    Louisiana Leadership Institute president Micah Jones’ speech:

    “We, the class of 2020, started our freshmen year in the midst of chaos—the Flood of 2016—and now we are ending our senior year in the midst of a pandemic—COVID-19. This is truly an indication that we are a class of very resilient individuals for despite the sufferings and situations we have faced in our lifetime, we will conquer with God on our side.

    Micah Jones, a graduating senior and drum major at McKinley Senior High School, serves as president of the Louisiana Leadership Institute in Baton Rouge. On May 19, 2020, he gave a commencement speech to graduating seniors from across the parish. Photo provided.

    Micah Jones, a graduating senior and drum major at McKinley Senior High School, serves as president of the Louisiana Leadership Institute in Baton Rouge. On May 19, 2020, he gave a commencement speech to graduating seniors from across the parish. Photo provided.

    We thank our parents, teachers, and all individuals who have influenced and nurtured us as we begin our new tomorrow in our new abnormal world,” Jones said.

    “Some of us will go to college, some to the military, others straight into the workforce. No matter where we go or what we do, there are definitely challenges awaiting us. What I ask of my fellow graduates, and of myself, is to meet those challenges straight on with your head held high and your heart wide open. It’s not enough to simply try to get by in life; that doesn’t move the world forward. You must try to excel in everything you do. Strive for excellence in every task, whether large or small.”

    “Although it may not be easy to see, but every accomplishment you achieve is added to the world’s accomplishments. Your individual successes benefit society as a whole because when you succeed, you lighten the burden on your fellow man. When you succeed, you are in a position to give rather than take My challenge to each of you and to myself, is to do all you can do to reach your fullest potential.”

    “If you ever find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come, how far we have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the obstacles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome.”

    “In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, ‘You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do’,” Jones said.

    “So wherever this life leads you, aim for the stars and remember, we are more than survivors, we are conquerors and nothing–absolutely nothing–can stop us from accomplishing any goal we hope to achieve!”

    Days later, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts encouraged graduating seniors at Westminster School in Simsbury, Connecticut, to make their way with humility, compassion, and courage in a world turned upside down. “This is your moment, your time to begin leaving your mark on the world,” he said.

    In a video message, Roberts said that the coronavirus has “pierced our illusion of certainty and control…Humility. The pandemic should teach us at least that.” Roberts told graduates to show compassion. “Others are suffering, too, and many will be for a long time. Those who have lost jobs or small businesses or whose hopes and dreams may be slowly drifting out of reach,” he said. Roberts said people they encounter years from now “may bear scars you cannot see.” He also told them they will need courage in this uncertain time.

    Similarly, NBA star LeBron James joined other celebrities during the “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020” broadcast on May 16.

    To the classes of graduates, James said, “do not forget your safety net. Every teacher, every coach, every pastor. They along with your friends and family got you to this moment, and now it is time to go to a new place. It is time to chase every dream, accept every challenge, strive for greatness, honor every promise, and recommit to your community.”lebron-james-mo_hpMain_20200516-203204_16x9_1600

    “Stay close to home, maybe not physically but in every other way possible.” James encouraged them to “pursue every ambition go as far as you can possibly dream. Be the first generation to embrace a new responsibility, a responsibility to rebuild your community. Class of 2020, the world has changed, you will determine how we will rebuild and I ask that you make your community your priority.” Then, former President Barack Obama spoke.

    Former President Barack Obama’s ‘Graduate Together’ speech

    “I couldn’t be prouder of all of you in the graduating Class of 2020 — as well as the teachers, and the coaches, and most of all, parents and family who guided have you along the way.

    Now graduating is a big achievement under any circumstances. Some of you have had to overcome serious obstacles along the way, whether it was an illness, or a parent losing a job, or living in a neighborhood where people too often count you out. Along with the usual challenges of growing up, all of you have had to deal with the added pressures of social media, reports of school shootings, and the specter of climate change. And then, just as you’re about to celebrate having made it through, just as you’ve been looking forward to proms and senior nights, graduation ceremonies — and, let’s face it, a whole bunch of parties — the world is turned upside down by a global pandemic. And as much as I’m sure

    You love your parents, I’ll bet that being stuck at home with them and playing board games or watching “Tiger King” on tv is not exactly how you envisioned the last few months of your senior year.

    Now I’ll be honest with you — the disappointments of missing a live graduation — those will pass pretty quick. I don’t remember much from my own high school graduation. I know that not having to sit there and listen to a commencement speaker isn’t all that bad — mine usually go on way too long.

    Also, not that many people look great in those caps, especially if you have big ears like me. And you’ll have plenty of time to catch up with your friends once the immediate public health crisis is over. But what remains true is that your graduation marks your passage into adulthood — the time when you begin to take charge of your own life. It’s when you get to decide what’s important to you: The kind of career you want to pursue. Who you want to build a family with. The values you want to live by. And given the current state of the world, that may be kind of scary. If you’d planned on going away for college, getting dropped off at campus in the fall — that’s no longer a given. If you were planning to work while going to school, finding that first job is going to be tougher.

    Even families that are relatively well-off are dealing with massive uncertainty. Those who were struggling before — they’re hanging on by a thread.

    Former President Barack Obama

    Former President Barack Obama

    All of which means that you’re going to have to grow up faster than some generations. This pandemic has shaken up the status quo and laid bare a lot of our country’s deep-seated problems — from massive economic inequality to ongoing racial disparities to a lack of basic health care for people who need it. It’s woken a lot of young people to the fact that the old ways of doing things just don’t work; that it doesn’t matter how much money you make if everyone around you is hungry and sick; and that our society and our democracy only work when we think not just about ourselves, but about each other.

    Second, do what you think is right. Doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy — that’s how little kids think, unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way — which is why things are so screwed up. I hope that instead, you decide to ground yourself in values that last, like honesty, hard work, responsibility, fairness, generosity, respect for others. You won’t get it right every time, you’ll make mistakes like we all do. But if you listen to the truth that’s inside yourself, even when it’s hard, even when it’s inconvenient, people will notice. They’ll gravitate towards you. And you’ll be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

    And finally, build a community. No one does big things by themselves. Right now, when people are scared, it’s easy to be cynical and say let me just look out for myself, or my family, or people who look or think or pray like me. But if we’re going to get through these difficult times; if we’re going to create a world where everybody has the opportunity to find a job and afford college; if we’re going to save the environment and defeat future pandemics, then we’re going to have to do it together. So be alive to one another’s struggles. Stand up for one another’s rights. Leave behind all the old ways of thinking that divide us — sexism, racial prejudice, status, greed — and set the world on a different path.

    When you need help, Michelle and I have made it the mission of our foundation to give young people like you the skills and support to lead in your own communities, and to connect you with other young leaders around the country and around the globe.

    But the truth is that you don’t need us to tell you what to do. Because in so many ways, you’ve already started to lead. Congratulations class of 2020. Keep making us proud”

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

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    Open Health Care Clinic, Runner’s Courier bring mobile COVID-19 testing to unserved residents

    COVID-19 testing expands into North Baton Rouge neighborhoods thanks to partnerships between Open Health Care Clinic, community leaders, businesses, and churches.

    Early on in March, when the city of Baton Rouge began testing the public for COVID-19, Cleve Dunn Jr., owner of Runner’s Courier Service, said he saw that coronavirus testing was not made available in many urban communities where residents lacked transportation. “At that time the COVID-19 testing site on Florida Blvd was drive-through only and patients needed a doctor’s referral to be tested…That created many barriers to access to testing and left a lot of people unaccounted for when evaluating the spread of the virus,” Dunn said. As a result, he reached out to several healthcare organizations about partnering to provide mobile testing with Runner’s Courier providing the mobile unit that would allow the healthcare organization’s medical staff to test people remotely.

    Tim Young CEO of Open Health Care Clinic was the first to commit to the project, Dunn said. They partnered along with churches, elected officials and community stakeholders to increase access to testing in underserved communities and among Black residents. Nationwide, health officials have said conducting COVID-19 testing in Black communities is critical. That sentiment is a fact here in Louisiana’s where Black residents represent one-third of the state’s population, but make up two-thirds of Louisiana’s COVID-19 deaths.

    For two months, Young and Dunn worked on the COVID-19 Mobile Testing project prior to announcing the first host sites at Capital Missionary Baptist Church in North Baton Rouge on May 12 and the MLK Community Center in Gus Young on May 14. This effort brought mobile testing to residents of North Baton Rouge neighborhoods including Glen Oaks and Eden Park. The mobile unit also provided testing to homeless citizens at the St. Vincent de Paul Center in mid-city on May 19.

    According to Open Health, more than 200 tests were conducted with less than 8 percent testing positive. The mobile unit will continue testing throughout the city with stops in Zion City and Scotlandville during the last week in May. To be tested, residents must have an ID and have symptoms or be asymptomatic but have been near someone who tested positive. All test results are reported to the state department of health.

    Open Health is funded to provide testing to uninsured residents at no out-of-pocket costs. Insured residents also pay no out-of-pocket costs although their insurance may be billed.

     

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    Vigil planned for Louisiana’s women prisoners threatened by COVID

    Organizers with VOTE invites the public to a prayer vigil, Saturday, May 16, at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, 6925 LA-74, in St Gabriel. In a news release ,they said, “Two incarcerated women have recently lost their lives to COVID-19. Louisianans need to know what’s happening inside these facilities, and our sisters need to know that WE have their backs.”

     “Women continue to be forgotten in the general discussion on mass incarceration. This has never been more evident than it is right now. Nearly every woman in one of the dormitories inside the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, located at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center,  has tested positive for the coronavirus. In response, formerly incarcerated women affiliated with Voice of the Experienced (VOTE) will hold a vigil to pray for the incarcerated women, as well as for those working inside the prison, and to bring attention to the urgent need for the State of Louisiana to take adequate actions to respond effectively to the public health crisis created by COVID-19 and the 2016 flood.

    The state’s response to the 2016 flooding of LCIW was to place women in different facilities across the state, facilities that were not meant to house the volume of individuals that they currently hold. The COVID-19 crisis not only continues to escalate and infect more women but it is shedding light on the displacement of our women who are at Hunt, Jetson, Tallulah, Angola. Many more are scattered in local parish prisons and jails throughout the state (potentially 60% of the population).

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



    Councilwoman Erika Green

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

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

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

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

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

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    COVID-19 drive-thru site to test anyone 12 years old and up with or without symptoms

    CareSouth Medical and Dental Center has opened three COVID-19 drive-thru community testing sites in Baton Rouge, Donaldsonville, and Plaquemine. Testing is available for anyone 12 years old and up who wants to take the test with or without symptoms.
    A doctor’s order is not required, but all participants must register in order to get the test. Register by calling (225) 650-2000 or going online at caresouth.org.
    There is no out-of-pocket expense for the test. If you have insurance, your insurance will be billed. If you don’t have insurance, CareSouth will cover the cost. You will need to bring your insurance card and picture ID. This is a partnership with CareSouth, Louisiana Healthcare Connections, and Quest Diagnostics.

    The testing is part of an initiative to increase testing in underserved communities in Louisiana by working with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) like CareSouth.  Louisiana is one of 10 states participating in the initiative. CareSouth is one of only two participating organizations in Louisiana.

    “We’re excited to be a part of this great partnership to expand COVID-19 testing in the underserved communities that we serve,” said CareSouth CEO Matthew Valliere.  “It will also help us provide testing to the most vulnerable, high risk populations.”

    Testing times/locations:
    Baton Rouge, 3140 Florida St.
    Starting May 14, 2020
    Monday through Friday  9 a.m. to noon

    You must enter the clinic parking lot off of Convention Street:
    Donaldsonville, 904 Catalpa St.
    Starting May 20, 2020
    Monday 3 to 5 p.m.
    Wednesday  8 a.m. to noon

    Plaquemine, 59340 River West Drive
    Starting May 21, 2020
    Tuesdays 3 to 5 p.m
    Thursdays  8 a.m. to noon

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    Newly appointed state health secretary to keynote ‘More Power’ women’s heath webinar

    The newly appointed Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health Courtney Phillips PhD, will be the keynote speaker for the More Power: Women at the Polls and in Policy Webinar on Tuesday, May 12, from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM. This webinar is hosted by the Louisiana Center for Health Equity, presenting sponsor UnitedHealthcare Community Plan – Louisiana and our planning team partners in recognition of National Women’s Health Week.

    The objective of this 90-minute virtual event is to promote awareness about women’s health, empower and activate women, and move our state to improve women’s health outcomes by advancing education and advocating for significant policy change. Panelists for this webinar include Nicole Deggins, CNM, MSN, MPH, Founder and CEO, Sista Midwife Productions; Kimiyo Williams, MD, FAAP, President/CEO, K.H. Williams Enterprises, Inc.; Linda Hawkins, Health Program Chair, League of Women Voters of Louisiana. The event will be moderated by Alma C. Stewart, RN, MS, CCHC, President and Founder, Louisiana Center for Health Equity.

    Louisiana Center for Health Equity catalyzes educational and advocacy initiatives that promote community health and wellness and eliminate health disparities caused by poverty, lack of access to quality healthcare, and unhealthy environmental conditions. Additionally, LCHE is continuing its efforts to improve the overall health of women in Louisiana by joining with other advocates in calling for the creation of a Louisiana Office on Women’s Health. The Office on Women’s Health will be committed to overseeing evidence-based recommended metrics of change based on data regarding best practices. To join in the effort to establish the Louisiana Office on Women’s Health, click the following link: https://www.change.org/LAOFFICEONWOMENSHEALTH.

    To register for the More Power: Women at the Polls and in Policy Webinar, receive updates about the 2020 women’s health activities and how you can get involved sign up at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5316842814114179599.

    Questions can be directed via email to info@lahealthequity.org.

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    Caring for yourself, others recovering from COVID-19

    Before committing to be the caregiver for someone who is sick with the coronavirus or who is recovering in your home, healthcare providers suggest consulting with your doctor for information about also monitoring your health. According to the Center for Disease Control, you or your household members are at increased risk for COVID-19 complications if you have underlining health issues including autoimmune diseases, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, or heart disease. Be mindful that the caregiver should not be someone who is at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

    As  you care for a person who is sick or recovering from COVID, you should:

    Remember COVID-19 spreads between people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets which are created when someone talks, coughs, or sneezes.

    Create an emergency contact list of family, neighbors, friends, neighbors, health care providers, co-workers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources.

    Be sure to track and monitor your own health for COVID-19 symptoms. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Trouble breathing is a more serious warning sign that you need medical attention. Use CDC’s self-checker tool at www.cdc.gov to help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care. Practice everyday preventive actions: clean hands often, avoid touching your eyes, mouth, nose with unwashed hands, frequently clean and disinfect surfaces.

    Wear a cloth face covering when caring for a person who is sick even though it is still unknown how well the cloth face covering protects healthy people from breathing in the virus.

    Wear disposable gloves when you touch or have contact with blood, stool, or body fluids, and when handling dirty laundry. Throw gloves into a lined trash can. If possible, dedicate a lined trash can for the person who is sick.

    Use a separate bedroom and bathroom: If possible, have the person who is sick stay in their own “sick room” or area and away from others. If possible, have the person who is sick use a separate bathroom. If they feel up to it, the person who is sick can clean their own space. Give the person who is sick personal cleaning supplies such as tissues, paper towels, cleaners, and EPA-registered disinfectants. If sharing a bathroom: the caregiver and household member should wait as long as possible before entering the bathroom and clean and disinfect the bathroom before use. If you have to share space, make sure the room has good air flow. Open the window and turn on a fan (if possible) to increase air circulation. Improving ventilation helps remove respiratory droplets from the air.

    Avoid having visitors especially limit visits by people who are at higher risk for severe illness.

    Eat in separate rooms or areas. Stay separated: The person who is sick should eat (or be fed) in their room, if possible.

    Avoid sharing personal items  Wash dishes and utensils using gloves and hot water: Handle any dishes, cups/glasses, or silverware used by the person who is sick with gloves. Wash them with soap and hot water or in a dishwasher. Clean hands after taking off gloves or handling used items. Do not share electronics with the person who is sick.

    Wear a mask. The person who is sick should wear a cloth face covering when they are around other people. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is not able to remove the covering without help.

    Wash dirty laundry and linen. Do not shake dirty laundry. Dirty laundry from a person who is sick can be washed with other people’s items. Wash items according to the label instructions. Use the warmest water setting, Dry laundry, on hot, completely. Clean and disinfect clothes hampers.  Remove gloves and wash hands right away. Place used disposable gloves and other contaminated items in a lined trash can. ℜ

    ONLINE: www.cdc.gov

    ξ By Zenobia Reed

    The Drum Contributing Writer

     

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    Southern Teachers & Parents FCU approved as SBA Lender

    Southern Teachers & Parents Federal Credit Union has been approved as an official Small Business Administration lender. Small business owners in need of paycheck protection due to the COVID-19 pandemic, may get assistance.  Applications can be submitted online at https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3A293200a0-cda9-42f3-9d0c-f374351d54ae

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    Food, masks, cleaning supplies will be distributed at Living Faith Christian Center Saturday, May 2

    Living Faith Christian Center in partnership with State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle will be distributing food, cleaning supplies, and masks at the church, 6375 Winbourne Ave., in Baton Rouge, on Saturday, May 2 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

    The food is being donated by the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank to feed some 1,500 families. Marcelle will be giving out masks and Attorney Gordon McKernan will be on hand to distribute cleaning supplies.

    “I’m excited,” said Bishop Raymond Johnson, pastor of Living Faith. “It’s a good opportunity to help those in need get hard to find supplies and the masks which are now mandatory. We’re grateful to our Rep. Denise Marcelle and community partners for assisting us during this time.”

    The drive-thru distribution is on a first-come, first-serve basis and open to anyone who is in need. Residents are asked to stay in their cars. The items will be placed in your car.

    For more information, call (225) 357-0377.

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    Volunteers are needed for “no contact” food delivery

    Many of our students rely on these meals during this difficult time. Volunteers are needed for “no contact” food delivery where parents drive up and volunteers will load boxes filled with 10 breakfasts and 10 lunches into the trunk. This is a great opportunity to provide a kind act and make a difference.

    • Volunteers must be able to lift at least 25 lbs
    • Distribution takes place at curbside; parents do not exit their cars but pop their trunk to provide access to place the food box(es) and milk
    • Volunteer shifts are scheduled from 9 am-1 pm or until all boxes are distributed.
    • 4-5 volunteers are needed at each distribution site.
    • Cars began to line up at about 7:30 am
    • Volunteers need to bring their own masks (a bandana will suffice) and gloves

    Please take photos or selfies during your shift so we can share your hard work.

    Have questions? Contact us at 225-255-3385
    If you are interested in signing up, click this button!

    Proof_03_May-Grab-N-Go-Calendars-01-1536x1536

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    Stay-at-home order continues until May 15

    Everyone in Louisiana should wear masks when in public; Next announcement will be May 11

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Louisiana’s Stay at Home order will extend until May 15 to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19. Louisiana does not currently meet the White House criteria for entering Phase One of reopening.

    While Louisiana has seen positive, improving trends statewide in terms of new case growth and new hospitalizations, in several regions across the state, new cases and hospitalizations continue to increase or to plateau, according to data from the Louisiana Department of Health. The White House criteria calls for declining numbers of new cases and hospitalizations, among other things.

    “Thanks to the commitment of the people of Louisiana, our state has made progress in flattening the curve and reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, we still have a little work to do before we meet the criteria to safely move to the next phase of reopening, so I will extend the state’s Stay at Home order until May 15, with a few minor changes,” Edwards said Monday, April 27. “While this is not the announcement I want to make, I am hopeful, and all of Louisiana should be hopeful, that we will enter into the next phase of reopening soon, in mid-May. I am anxious to get all areas of our economy reopened, but if we accelerate too quickly, we may have to slam on the brakes. That will be bad for public health and for businesses, bad for our people and bad for our state.”Unknown

    Edwards’ decision is based on regional data that shows that while overall new cases and hospitalizations have decreased, this is not the case in several regions. In the Baton Rouge and Monroe regions, both new cases and new hospitalizations have increased. Some increases are also being seen in terms of new cases in Acadiana and a plateau for hospitalizations in Southwest Louisiana and a plateau of new cases on the Northshore.

    Click here to view the Governor’s presentation on regional data trends.
    Under the extended order, which will be issued on Friday, May 1, businesses that previously were directed to be closed will remain closed, including salons, barber shops, bars and casinos, among other things. Businesses that are deemed essential under the third phase of federal CISA guidance may still be open. Non-essential retail businesses in Louisiana continue to be able to open with fewer than 10 people total inside.

    Three major changes in the new Stay at Home order include:

    • Malls will remain closed to the public, but stores may open for curbside delivery.
    • Restaurants will be allowed to open their outside areas for patrons to eat meals only, without tableside service.
    • All employees of a business who have contact with the public must wear a mask.
    • Additionally, both the CDC and the Louisiana Department of Health strongly urge everyone to wear masks when in public.

    “Wearing cloth masks or protective face coverings is part of the new normal,” Gov. Edwards said. “Wearing a mask is being a good neighbor and in Louisiana, we pride ourselves on being good neighbors. Your mask protects me and other people and my mask protects you.”

    Hopefully, Louisiana will meet the White House criteria and move to Phase 1 on May 15, provided symptoms, new case counts and hospitalizations decrease and the state continues to surge testing and contact tracing capacity. Phase 1 lifts the Stay at Home order and eases restrictions on some public spaces like houses of worship and restaurants and opens other businesses that have been closed such as barber shops and salons, but with restrictions on occupancy and strict requirements for personal distancing and masks to keep everyone safe. Phase One occupancy for these businesses will be limited to 25 percent.

    As Louisiana prepares for its next phase of reopening, business owners and faith leaders are encouraged to plan as well, including understanding their building’s maximum occupancy limits, which may require contacting local government or the State Fire Marshal’s office. They should also plan on ensuring their employees have masks.

    Edwards intends to make his next announcement on moving to Phase 1 in Louisiana on or by May 11. Members of the public can continue to get information from the Governor’s office on coronavirus.la.gov and by texting LACOVID to 67283.

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    Eight Southern University leaders assigned to Governor’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force

    Southern University System will have seven representatives on Governor John Bel Edwards Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. The task force will focus on research and actions to improve health outcomes and equity for the state’s residents. The group’s progress will be monitored by a statewide Health Equity Dashboard.

    From Southern are:

    Sandra Brown, Ph.D., dean of the Southern University College of Nursing and Allied Health, will serve as co-chair of the task force

    Southern University System president-chancellor Ray L. Belton, Ph.D. and chief of staff Katara Williams, Ph.D., will serve on the task force’s administration along with SU alum and Commissioner of the Louisiana Board of Regents, Kim Hunter-Reed, Ph.D.

    Orlando F. McMeans, Ph.D.,, chancellor-dean of the Southern University Ag Center and the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences.

    Dr. Rani G. Whitfield, Southern University System Board Member and family practice physician.

    Deleso A. Alford, professor of law at the Southern University Law Center and expert on marginalized people in American healthcare, and Damien Ejigiri,Ph.D, dean and professor of the Nelson Mandela School of Government and Social Sciences will serve on the task force’s public and regulatory policy subcommittee and focus on policies and laws that impact health disparities.

    The task force is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Friday, April 24. For additional information about the Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and a complete list of members, click here.

     

     

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    COVID-19 testing begins 3pm-5pm, Mon – Thurs in north Baton Rouge

    Community testing for the coronavirus has begun at the LSU Health Baton Rouge North Clinic at 5439 Airline Hwy, nearest the population that has been most impacted. Nurses are conducting tests in three drive-up, outdoor tents Monday through Thursday from 3pm – 5pm.

    Although North Baton Rouge has not been identified as a coronavirus cluster area, state data indicates that the city’s African American population is most adversely impacted by the coronavirus and are dying at higher rates from its complications than any other group. Opening this site brings testing closer to neighborhoods with majority African-American residents.

    According to COVID-19 guidelines from the Department of Health and Hospitals, residents must contact their doctors or healthcare provider to be referred for testing. They can then select to test at the Airline site. The healthcare provider must fax orders to the site and the patient will receive a time for their COVID test. Anyone without written orders will be turned away. No oversized vehicles will be admitted.

    This is not a walk-up site. However, if a patient does not have a primary care doctor or if they have symptoms of COVID, they can be seen by doctors at the LSU Urgent Care Center (which is also at the Airline Highway location) before being referred for testing. Identification is required.

    When individuals arrive at their appointed time for COVID-19 testing, they will stay in their vehicle where they will be swabbed. Their doctor or healthcare provider will be notified that they were tested and the results.

    This is the second, drive-up community testing site. It is an initiative led by the Mayor’s Office and healthcare providers, specifically: Baton Rouge Clinic, Baton Rouge General, Ochsner-Baton Rouge, Our Lady of the Lake, and Woman’s Hospital. It is staffed by doctors from those hospitals and clinics. The test kits needed to operate the site are donated by those hospitals and clinics. Testing sites have relieved pressure on hospitals, clinics, and emergency rooms, which are also administering COVID-19 tests.

    By Cora Lester
    The Drum reporter

    @thedrumnews

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    Projections show Louisiana could be grappling with COVID-19 until the end of the year

    Regional planning projections released by the Louisiana Department of Health show that while aggressive mitigation measures appear to be effectively flattening the COVID-19 curve, Louisiana could be grappling with the virus at least until the end of the year. 

    “Forecasting what is going to happen with COVID-19 in the state of Louisiana is challenging and nearly impossible,” said interim secretary of the Department of Health Stephen Russo. “Just as it is impossible to forecast the exact weather and temperature on a given day.”

    “While these planning projections show our healthcare system may not be overwhelmed, they also show that we are not out of the woods,” said Alex Billioux, assistant secretary of the Office of Public Health . “It’s important that we continue to do our part to protect ourselves and our families.”

    “These planning projections are good news and it’s good news we all need to hear right now. It means we are moving in the right direction but we must stay on course,” said Russo. “There is significant concern that if we make sudden changes or stop social distancing that we will see another large spike and strain on our health care resources.”

    Here is a link to the full set of regional projections, last updated on April 16, 2020: http://ldh.la.gov/COVID-19Modeling
    Read more »
  • ,,

    1,095 Days and Counting

    Rani Whitfield photo by Kikala Diallo

    Rani Whitfield, MD, publishes history on the @TheDayAfter2016 Instagram page daily.

    One doctor’s frustration unfolds into Instagram excellence

     

    By all accounts, every day of February is laced with creative lessons on Black history. From teachers decorating their classroom doors with fantastical imagery to daily posts of famous quotes and musical introductions by Black artists, the month is full of presentations of Black success.

    But few -—if any—- have matched the diligence of Rani G. Whitfield, MD,’s Instagram page @TheDayAfter2016. For the last one thousand and ninety-five or so days, Whitfield has posted five photos and roughly 2,200 characters of Black excellence and historical truths.

    That’s daily, for nearly four years. In February, he also created and released a theme song of sorts for Black History Month called “Know Your History”.

    “It is Black excellence,” said Whitfield, who researches and writes the daily posts which are shared before day on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @TheDayAfter2016.  For each post, he curates facts from as many as six sources to recount the person’s life—without adding his opinion. “I’m not recreating the story,” he said. “It is the facts of what has happened.”

    @TheDayAfter2016 is one of many community-centered projects Whitfield has created. For example, in 2010, he created a health comic book, “The Legion of Health”  and hip-hop health-focused CDs “State of Emergency” , “The World Is In Your Hands,” and “Get On The Bus,” that feature artist Dee-1, Love-n-Pain,  and Sean Griffin. Both examine issues like high cholesterol, heart disease, and obesity. As an internal medicine physician in Baton Rouge, he often dons the stage name “Tha Hip Hop Doc”  or “Dr. Rani” and delivers these messages to schools and organizations.

    However, the message of @TheDayAfter2016 stems from a different concern.  On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling was unjustly killed by Baton Rouge police while selling CDs outside a neighborhood convenience store and the community responded with protests and rallies.

    “When Alton was killed it was emotional for everybody,” Whitfield said, “I needed a way to get it off my chest.” He and videographer Kikala Diallo began working on a documentary, conducting interviews on victimization and lynchings of young Blacks starting with Sterling and including  Philando Castile and Sandra Bland. He also shared photos and facts on Instagram, until “it just got depressing,” he admitted. “So, I started looking for Black excellence and history that was unknown and I would post it.”

    What Whitfield found was eye-opening. “Intriguing,” he said.

    Although Whitfield was born during the cusp of the civil rights movement and even with parents who impressed upon him and his siblings to learn Black History, Whitfield said he realized he didn’t know a lot. “I feel like I dropped to ball and my parents were in a protective mode, like ‘We did all the fighting, now you got to school and it will be better for you.’ And then you realize that it’s not,” he said.

    IMG_2293He shares his research with photos and less than 2,000 characters on Instagram, using the #NotSoLongAgo hashtag. Surprisingly, the posts are not an exclusive collection of celebrations and victories. “Everybody Black wasn’t doing positive things some of them did bad things,” said Whitfield. He also posts tragic and unjust accounts and biographies, like the post on Larry Hoover who formed the Gangster Disciples in Chicago, Darthard Perry who was an FBI informant in Cointelpro, and Fred Ahmed Evans and the Glenville riot.

    “I’m posting their stories, not my opinion,” he said. “It’s good and bad and what not to repeat.” The posts are true stories of Black American history which he said is due more discussion than one month. “I’m no fan of the shortness of February.”

    Admittedly, the daily posts have made the doctor “obsessed with history.” He said, “it’s self-satisfying now, but I am hoping to stimulate (others) to go get more.  It’s a blessing to provide information.”

    “I am trying to truly live and walk in my purpose right now,” said Whitfield.  As with his career in medicine, Whitfield said he feels “called to educate on history so we won’t repeat the worst parts of it.” He said he hopes the daily post would stimulate others to go learn more.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    @jozefsyndicate

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    Jade Brown-Russell named to Resilient Louisiana Commission.

    Urban League of Louisiana Board Chair Jade Brown-Russell was named to Governor John Bel Edward’s Resilient Louisiana Commission. Ms. Brown-Russell is also principal of J.D. Russell Consulting.
    Resilient Louisiana is a state commission, made up of an 18 member panel, that is charged with examining Louisiana’s economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic and making recommendations for more resilient business-related activities and commerce in the coming months. The 18-member panel includes Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, and will be co-chaired by Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson and health care leader Terrie Sterling, a Baton Rouge consultant and retired Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System executive.

    The commission will include a task force structure dedicated to strengthening specific sectors of Louisiana’s economy. Task forces will be focused on solutions for such critical sectors as Energy and Manufacturing; Health Care, including improved delivery of medical care, health equity and enhanced facilities; Tourism, including hotels, gaming and related hospitality entities; Rural Development; Education and Workforce, with attention given to the training needs of displaced workers; and Economic and Community Development, including strategies for making regions and communities more resilient in the face of future health care threats and other risks.

    Joining the commission will be:

    • State Sen. Ronnie Johns, Senate Commerce chair, designee of Louisiana Senate President Page Cortez.
    • State Rep. Paula Davis, House Commerce chair, designee of Louisiana House Speaker Clay Schexnayder.
    • Scott Hensgens, PAR chairman; managing partner, Breazeala, Sachse & Wilson.
    • Tyron Picard, CABL chairman; founding principal, The Picard Group.
    • Tim Temple, C100 Louisiana vice chair; president and CEO, Temptan LLC.
    • Bill Hogan, representing Louisiana bankers; president and CEO, Century Next Bank.
    • Louis Reine, representing labor unions; Louisiana AFL-CIO president.
    • Michael R. LaFitte II, representing small businesses; owner, Shreveport Haberdashery.
    • Walt Leger III, representing tourism; senior vice president, general counsel, New Orleans & Company.
    • Ti Martin, representing restaurants; co-proprietor, Commander’s Palace.
    • Jade Brown-Russell, Urban League of Louisiana chair; principal, J.D. Russell Consulting.
    • Sonia Perez, representing Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency-essential industry; president, AT&T Louisiana.
    • Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne (ex-officio member).
    • Secretary Kimberly Robinson, Louisiana Department of Revenue (ex-officio member).
    • Dr. Jim Richardson, John Rhea Alumni Professor of Economics, LSU (ex-officio member).

    Leaders who are named later to chair the task forces also will serve as ex-officio members of Resilient Louisiana. For more information about the commission and updates about its work, visitOpportunityLouisiana.com/ResilientLouisiana. Additional details about commission plans and meetings will be forthcoming in the near future.

    Read more »
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    LaDonte Lotts takes JiggAerobics Fitness to Shark Tank

    LaDonte Lotts is widely known around Baton Rouge and Houston for his program JiggAerobics Fitness, and on May 1,  he will present his business model to investors on Shark Tank.

    JiggAerobics is a global lifestyle brand that fuses fitness, entertainment, and culture into an exhilarating dance-fitness sensation. The workout program blends the hip hop dance “Jiggin” and plyometrics.

    Lotts

    LaDonte Lotts

    Lotts is a graduate of Southern University and played the trumpet with the Human Jukebox. While in the band, he began to jigg during the halftime show which is how many people began to notice him. He began JiggAerobics in 2015 and has been traveling with his program which is also available as a video series. His workouts have been described as “captivating” and “rejuvenating.” Lotts wears his signature cowboy hat during most of the workout sessions which adds to the fun and upbeat atmosphere.

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    Lotts and JiggAerobics has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Dance Network TV, and  225 Magazine. As a SharkTank contestant, Lottes gets an unprecedented chance to make JiggAerobics grow immediately.

    ONLINE: https://www.jiggaerobicsfitness.com

    Read more »
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    Domestic violence may increase during COVID closures, help exists

    Domestic violence issues may increase in frequency, intensity and case number as a result of the closure of workplaces and schools in our area. “Spending days or weeks with an abusive partner or family member opens the door for immense physical and emotional trauma,” said Mayor-President Sharon Broome. “Unfortunately, this is the reality that COVID-19 presents to many of our neighbors, family, and friends.”

    Here are resources:

    Emergency Shelter

    • Iris Domestic Violence Center http://www.stopdv.org (225) 389-3001
    • State Hotline 1-888-411-1333
    • National Hotline 1-800-799-7233
    • The Butterfly Society (225) 347-7725; thebutterflysociety@gmail.com

    Individual Counseling Services

    • Free individual counseling services through Catholic Charities (225) 389-4736
    • Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge (225) 924-0123
    • Children’s Advocacy Center (225) 343-1984

    Primary Care and Behavioral Health

    •  Capital Area Human Services (225) 288-1044

    Support Groups

    • Domestic Violence Community Group Counseling (225) 389-4736
    • Hope & Healing Homicide Survivors Support Group (225) 389-4736

    Food

    • Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank (225) 359-9940
    • Southeast Ministries Association Inc. (225) 924-5122

    Clothing

    •  St. Vincent de Paul (any location)
    • Salvation Army of Greater Baton Rouge (225) 355-4483

    Financial Services

    • Crime Victims Reparations (225) 239-7850
    • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge (225) 336-8700
    • Salvation Army of Greater Baton Rouge (225) 355-4483

    Legal Aid

    •  Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (225) 448-0080

    Employment Services

    • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge (225) 336-8700

    Childcare Assistance

    • Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) (877) 453-2721
    Read more »
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    Baton Rouge native develops antiviral drug with potential to fight coronavirus

    Baton Rouge native Darnisha Harrison, founder and CEO of Ennaid Therapeutics, is advancing the development of an antiviral drug that may potentially fight coronavirus cases, and which would be more easily administered to those afflicted by the disease.

    Harrison’s Georgia-based pharmaceutical company filed a patent for a therapeutic called ENU200 that could treat as much as 80 percent of asymptomatic, mild to moderate COVID-19 infections.

    “Our science strongly suggests that ENU200, a repurposed drug with a well-established clinical and safety profile, has the potential to be a broad solution to address the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Harrison in a statement from the company. “Unlike other COVID-19 drugs in development, which must be administered via injection or intravenously under the care of a physician, ENU200 can be administered orally, thus enabling in-home treatment for COVID-19 infections.”caxvji9a0d-1459395772470-3000s3

    Harris graduated from Baton Rouge Magnet High School and LSU before moving to Georgia. Harrison began researching therapeutics for zika, dengue, chikungunya virus, and hepatitis C viruses. The company has a pipeline of about 10 drugs. “When no one paid much attention to these viruses, we certainly did,” Harrison said. In 2014, she was featured in Newsweek as one of 13 Entrepreneurs to bet on.

    ENU200 had been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a different purpose and is no longer prescribed, but scientific modeling shows that it can deliver antiviral activity to the proteins that make up coronavirus.  “We focus on finding that early science that can be beneficial,” she told interviewers at ISNDT in 2016.

    Harrison said they are hoping the FDA will fast track the drug through its emergency process and will run a clinical trial before bringing it to market. According to the corporate website, Ennaid Therapeutics “brings innovative cures to rare and seemingly incurable diseases, thus improving the health and saving the lives of humans and animals all over the world.”

     

    maxresdefault

    Darnisha Harrison, CEO, Ennaid Therapeutics

     

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    Gov. Edwards announces creation of COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force

    Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the creation of the Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, which will look at how health inequities are affecting communities that are most impacted by the coronavirus.

    “We know that right now 70 percent of our deaths in Louisiana from coronavirus are African Americans. This is a disturbing trend and one that deserves our attention, which is why we are engaging a group of leaders right now while the crisis is still ongoing,” Gov. Edwards said. “When we talk about health equity, we mean everyone has the opportunity to attain their highest level of health. The great thing is that the findings and recommendations made by this Task Force will help everyone better access quality care and improve health outcomes. It will also leverage our research capabilities and intellectual brainpower in a collective manner to tackle this daunting issue.  I am asking our universities and research institutions to lead this effort.”

    Groups that will participate in the task force include:

    • Southern University’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy
    • Xavier University’s Department of Public Health Sciences
    • Health Science Centers at LSU and Tulane
    • LDH Office of Public Health
    • LDH Bureau of Minority Health Access
    • Pennington Biomedical Research Center
    • Schools of Nursing at all of Louisiana’s universities

    The immediate assignment is to make sure communities with health disparities are blanketed with good information on COVID-19 safety and prevention; provide the medical community with best practices and protocols for treating communities with underlying medical conditions and health disparities; and ensure testing availability and ease of access for all communities. This Task Force will begin its work immediately and their research will result in the creation of a Dashboard on Health Equity.

    Read more »
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    HIV specialist, Dr. Walter Campbell, returns to CareSouth

     Dr. Walter Lee Campbell has returned to CareSouth Medical and Dental as its infectious disease physician in the Ryan White Department. He will be working at the Baton Rouge clinic, 3140 Florida Blvd., every Monday and Tuesday.

     Campbell has been treating HIV since 1988 and began working at CareSouth in 2011   took a personal leave of absence last year.

    “We’re so glad Dr. Campbell is back with us,” said CareSouth CEO Matthew Valliere. “He’s a great doctor with a wealth of experience in HIV testing and treatment.”

    “I missed the patients and the patients missed me,” said Campbell.  “It’s good to be back and be a part of the CareSouth team again.”

    Campbell earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Florida A&M University and a medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine. He is board-certified in internal medicine. A military veteran,  he served in the U.S. Navy as a Medical Officer Lieutenant Commander and Hospital Corpsman Second Class

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    Children in foster care need your voice more than ever

    As stress and anxiety increase in our community with the public health crisis COVID-19 evolving, the need for Capital Area CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Association grows even greater. CASA is urgently seeking community volunteers to become advocates for abused and neglect children in East Baton Rouge Parish. Caring adults are needed to speak up for these youth living in foster care.

    “CASA children have already been traumatized by abuse and neglect and now face increased anxiety as this health crisis unfolds. As CASA volunteers continue their advocacy work on behalf of these children through Facetime and video chat, we also have to think about the children who don’t have a CASA volunteer yet and the children who will enter foster care as this crisis evolves. We need to ensure that those children will also have the benefit of an advocate to speak up in their best interest during this complex time, and after the crisis ends,” said Erin Fulbright.

    CASA volunteers advocate in helping these children reach safe, permanent homes. CASA volunteers do not provide legal representation, nor do they replace social workers. They are an independent voice speaking solely for the best interests of the child.

    The first step to becoming a CASA volunteer is to attend an information session. As we continue our recruitment efforts for volunteers, and while respecting the state’s stay-at-home order, the orientations are being conducted online until further notice.

    To RSVP for one of the following 45-minute online sessions, please visit www.casabr.org/volunteer.

    •  3 p.m., Wednesday, April 8
    • 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 15
    • 10 a.m., Saturday, April 25
    • 5 p.m., Thursday, April 30
    • 12 p.m., Monday, May 4
    • 10 a.m., Saturday, May 16
    • 3 p.m., Friday, May 22
    • 5 p.m., Wednesday, May 27
    • 10 a.m., Saturday, June 6
    • 3 p.m., Friday, June 12
    • 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 17
    • 12 p.m., Tuesday, June 30

    CASA is also accepting participants into its next volunteer training class, which starts June 9, 2020.

    ONLINE:  www.casabr.org or email volunteer@casabr.org. 

     

    Read more »
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    Grab-n-Go meals change through April 30 for EBR schools sites

    The East Baton Rouge Parish School System updated its grab-n-go meal operation Friday, April 2. The district has partnered with Ballard Hospitality of Covington to supply a mix of hot and cold meals and shelf-stable boxed meals to students through the duration of April. The shift is in part a response to concerns about the safety of school employees amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

    Updated-Meal-Graphic-page-002

    Here are the changes:

    The week of April 6-9 - School system child nutrition workers will continue the standard meal distribution at Northeast Elementary, Progress Elementary, Scotlandville Pre-Engineering Magnet Academy, Wildwood Elementary, and Woodlawn Elementary. Ballard Hospitality will serve breakfast and hot lunch meals at Broadmoor Middle, Claiborne Elementary, Park Forest Middle, and Capitol Middle.

    On weekdays from April 13 – April 17 (excluding April 10, Good Friday) – Ballard Hospitality will deliver and distribute shelf-stable meal boxes to 25 EBR schools on a rotating schedule. Five breakfast meals and five lunch meals will be included in one box. Each child in the family will receive a box, while supplies last. Kleinpeter Farms Dairy will issue a ½ gallon of milk with each box.

    The week of April 20-24 - Ballard Hospitality will follow the same distribution schedule, but each box will contain 10 breakfast meals and 10 lunches to sustain students through April 30. Kleinpeter will issue a gallon of milk with each box.

    0003-1583x2048

    The grab-n-go meals will still be distributed from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. on weekdays, while supplies last. Families will be able to pick up the pre-packaged breakfast and lunches for children 18 years of age and younger, including overage students with disabilities through age 22. At least one child must be present in order to receive student meals.

    ONLINE: full meal distribution schedule and additional resources https://ebrschools.org/coronavirus-covid-19/child-nutrition/.

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    Saluting our Sailor: Nicholas Lee of Baton Rouge

    Landing Signalman, Enlisted U.S. Navy Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Nicholas Lee, of Baton Rouge, La., is on the East China Sea directing an MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter, assigned to the “Warlords” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 51. The unit takes off on the flight deck aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) during a vertical replenishment training. On the McCampbell, Lee is underway conducting operations in the Indo-Pacific region.

    U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Markus Castaneda

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    CareSouth offering curbside WIC services during COVID-19

    CareSouth Medical and Dental  is offering curbside service for its WIC program to ensure that families still receive nutritious food during the quarantine.

    Due to COVID-19, the USDA recently waived certain requirements for participants to receive WIC benefits. Appointments can be made over the phone and curbside services are offered at various CareSouth locations. Curbside services include providing required information to staff over the phone. Staff will then load benefits to your card from the clinic. Please remember to bring your ID and current WIC EBT card if you already have one.

    “We’re happy to be able to continue to provide healthy food for our families, while practicing social distancing,” said CareSouth CEO Matthew Valliere. “We’ve been offering curbside service since March 23 and it’s going really good.”

    Valliere said the clinic has been receiving more inquiries lately due to residents losing their jobs or being furloughed.

    The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children also known as the WIC program provides healthy food for women and infants and children up to five years old.   Participants receive eggs, juice, cheese, fruits and vegetables, beans, and infant formula among other things. The program also offers breastfeeding support, nutrition education and referrals to other social services.

    Women who are pregnant, just had a baby or breastfeeding as well as those who have infants and children up to five years old are eligible for the program. To apply, you must have a picture ID, show proof of Louisiana residency and income or currently receive Medicaid, SNAP, or TANF.

     

    CareSouth WIC locations:

    CareSouth WIC @MLK

    4142 Gus Young Ave
    Baton Rouge, LA – 70802
    8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Monday – Thursday

    8 a.m. to noon Friday 

    (225) 388-5861

     

    Baton Rouge 

    Suite A

    3111 Florida Street
    Baton Rouge, LA  70806
    8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday – Thursday 

    8 a.m. to noon  Friday 

    (225) 650-2093 or (225) 650-2019

     

    Donaldsonville Clinic

    904 Catalpa Street
    Donaldsonville, Louisiana 70346
    9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday – Thursday 

    8 a.m. to noon Friday 

    (225) 264-6800  

     

    For more information or to apply, call (225) 650-2093 or (225) 650-2019.

    Read more »
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    North Baton Rouge AIM Grant applications due April 10

    In an effort to increase community support at public schools in North Baton Rouge,Volunteers In Public Schools invites all faith-based organizations to participate in the North Baton Rouge AIM Grant.

    AIM Grant FlyerVIPS will award four faith entities with stipends to invest in a designated North Baton Rouge school for the purposes of expanding student resources and improving academic strides in reading and math. This application is open to ALL faith-based organizations in the Baton Rouge area that can commit to providing volunteers in North Baton Rouge public schools. This opportunity establishes a strategic faith-based volunteer commitment.

    To receive an application, email dpoplus@ebrschools.org or through the VIPS website at www.vipsbr.org. Applications are due April 10 by 11:59 pm.

    VIPS’s mission strives to foster student success and build support for public schools through strengthening math and reading skills.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    ON-AIR: Broadcasters and hosts covering COVID Louisiana

    According to the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, there are more than 300 broadcast journalists in the state. From them, The Drum staff selected four journalists and two newstalk show hosts who are using their platforms to keep listeners engaged and updated especially during the coronavirus pandemic. These shows are eye-openers and help Louisianians feel as if they have a voice, so that community issues are heard and questions are answered. Recently, these shows featured in-depth interviews with leaders about the coronavirus and its impact on Louisiana residents. As the pandemic continues, they will offer more. Tune in.

    The LaTangela Show

    The Latangela Show is hosted by veteran radio host LaTangela Sherman. She produces the show weekly in podcast for a global audience. Each episode brings “high-level thinking and random research.” She covers topics including health and wellness, personal development, self-encouragement, and global headline news. Find the LaTangela Show on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and at http://latangela.com

    Eyes Open with Tony Brown

    Eyes Open with Tony Brown is hosted by Alexandria, LA, veteran broadcast journalist Tony Brown. Every weekday from 6am to 9am, Brown presents several issues and events across the nation, in Alexandria, and in the state. His motto is: “Come clean or stay away nasty.”  It broadcasts on KTTP 1110AM, at www.thenewkttp.com, and live on Facebook Brown deliveries eye-opening shows that present issues differently.

     

    Talk Louisiana

    Talk Louisiana is hosted by Jim Engster, an award-winning journalist, and a broadcast veteran. The morning show airs Monday through Thursday at 9am and connects listeners to Louisiana newsmakers through interviews. Each segment is a live conversation with an Engster, expert, and listeners who are invited to call in to add insight to the conversation. Listen on WRKF 89.3, or online at www.wrfk.org, or to podcast.

    The Clay Young Show

    The Clay Young Show hosted by Clay Young airs weekly online at Podcast225.com and on Apple iTunes.  The Clay Young Show tackles controversial topics head-on every week at Podcast225.com and on iTunes. Young, who has been on-air for 20 years, often finds himself in the midst of heated disagreements. His show crosses racial, political, and economic lines with ease and resolve.

     

    Insight Radio Show

    Insight Radio Show with Senator Regina Barrow discusses policies in Louisiana and issues that affect Baton Rouge. Each segment is kid-friendly with current events and live guests. Listen at WPFC1550am.com or live streamed on Facebook every 4th Thursday.

     

    What’s Going On?

    What’s Going On? is a radio show hosted by James Gilmore, Ph.D., on WTQT on 106.1FM Gospel Radio Station in Baton Rouge. Gilmore and his in-studio guests discuss political topics, current events, and local issues. Online at www.wtqt.com or on Facebook on the WhatsGoingOnDrGilmore page

    All of these broadcasters and hosts, open their shows to public comments that all citizens to add their input and ideas. Stay connected with these trusted shows.

    By Yulani S. Semien
    The Drum Youth reporter

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Bryson Bouttee’s mural colorfully paints a story on lack of home ownership

    Despite Baton Rouge residents being stuck inside as a result of the coronavirus, artist Bryson Bouttee is painting the latest Walls Project mural for the #ONEROUGE series and he’s doing so live on Facebook.

    Placed on a future business specializing in new homeownership, this triptych mural highlights the past, present, and future of homeownership in Louisiana.  Boutte designed the mural to colorfully bounce through different storylines of the same narrative, experiences of trying to own a home in a state that has made it so hard, and the hopeful future with progressive change. It is painted on the old Lincoln II building at 1116 S 14th Street in South Baton Rouge.

    Throughout the years, homeownership is regarded as the pivotal accomplishment of a successful adult. Yet, only 35% of Louisiana residents actually own their own homes. Over 168,000 families across the state pay more than 50% of their income on housing, be it rent or mortgage. To encapsulate these metrics, it should be noted that up to 60% of African-Americans in our city do not own property.

    Historically, “Redlining” contributed to low figures of homeownership mentioned. By segregating who received loans and recalculating property lines, businesses and banks controlling loans and insurance kept Blacks out of homeownership for many decades. Being locked into only being able to rent allows for landlords to control the market, and without proper regulations, that market can easily displace many families. To change this narrative and challenge the pace things are currently being done, The Walls Project is announcing the third mural from the #ONEROUGE 9 Drivers of Poverty series.

    Bryson Bouttee

    Bryson Bouttee, muralist

    “In correlation with the #OneRouge project, [the mural] hones in on the lack of homeownership and the rising rental cost that many residents of the city are facing… [as well as] the future and what investment could transform the area too, repurposing the buildings of old to house businesses that can bring economic independence,” Bouttee said. The mural is supported by Partners Southeast and Kimble Properties,

    He live streamed his progression of this mural starting for two weeks on The Walls Project Instagram and Facebook pages, @wallsproject. Make sure to check it out so YOU can be part of the production!

    To help support the creation of this mural and awareness around the issue, contributions can be made by texting drawingtheline on 41444.

    The 9 Drivers of Poverty Series looks at the:

    • Sharp decline in median income
    • Access to affordable transportation
    • Lack of homeownership & escalating rental costs
    • A growing number of neighborhoods in poverty
    • High number of households with children living in poverty
    • Lack of educational attainment
    • Limited English proficiency and cultural differences
    • High teen birth rates
    • High poverty rates for single mothers

    Over the past seven years, The Walls Project has evolved beyond only creating public art. Programs of the Walls look towards using creativity and intergenerational collaboration to address deeply-rooted and historically systemic issues in our city. We CREATE and paint murals in high-need schools and underinvested neighborhoods, CULTIVATE and educate youth to attain the high-demand jobs of the future, and REACTIVATE communities by remediating blight and making them safer.

    ONLINE: wallsproject.org/onerouge

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Taco de Paco trucks to bring food to children in EBR, Plaquemines, Jefferson starting March 23

    Three O’Clock Project, a local nonprofit in partnership with Taco de Paco food truck and other community groups will feed children in three communities starting Monday, March 23 to fulfill a service need due to school closures.

    Families with the children 18 years old and younger can receive meals by mobile delivery or at a site. In East Baton Rouge, food trucks will make deliveries at more than 40 apartments, parks, churches, and schools listed at Threeoclockproject.org. The following sites will have Taco de Paco trucks in three parishes:

    Schedule of mobile food truck deliveries in EBR from the Three O'clock Project.

    Schedule of mobile food truck deliveries in EBR from the Three O’clock Project.

    East Baton Rouge Parish

    • MLK Jr. Community Center​ | 4000 Gus Young Ave.
      • M-F | 11am-1pm
      • breakfast and lunch
    • Empower225 | 4829 Winbourne Ave.
      • M-F | ​10am-12pm
      • breakfast and lunch

    Jefferson Parish

    • East Jefferson YMCA | 6691 Riverside Dr., Metairie
      • M-F | 3pm-5pm​
      • breakfast and lunch

    Plaquemines Parish

        • Belle Chasse YMCA
          • M-F | 3pm-5pm​
          • lunch
        • Buras YMCA
          • M-F | 11:30am-1:30pm​
          • breakfast and lunch
        • Port Sulphur YMCA
            • M-F | 11:30am-1:30pm​
            • breakfast and lunch

    Here is the delivery route.

    “A guardian can pick up a meal for a child. Walk ups will be allowed, we will have tables spaced 10 feet apart for participants to grab a meal and go,” said Emily Chatelain, executive director of the Three O’clock Project.

    They have prepared to distribute estimated 20,000 meals as the state and nation continues the fight against COVID-19.

    The Three O’Clock Project shared a menu that includes staples like red beans and rice, sausage, cornbread, and an apple.

    Since 2016, the Three O’Clock Project has partnered food vendors and the community to provide healthy meals at no cost to after school organizations and summer programs.

    “It has been such a great help to my family.  It is going to allow me to better budget the little money that I have while ensuring that my babies get good, delicious food,” said Carolyn Johnson.

    By Ezekiel Wright
    Contributing Writer

    ONLINE: www.threeoclockproject.org for updated meal delivery sites.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    EBR Head Start programs to distribute meals starting March 23

    As a result of COVID-19, East Baton Rouge Parish Head Start Program will begin distributing breakfast and lunch to Head Start families beginning Monday, March 23rd, at the following Head Start Center locations from 10am-1pm.

    CHARLIE THOMAS HEAD START 
    8686 Pecan Tree Drive
    Baton Rouge, LA  70810

    CHILDREN’S WORLD EARLY HEAD START
    7200 Maplewood Drive
    Baton Rouge, LA  70812

    FREEMAN-MATTHEWS HEAD START
    1383 Napoleon Street
    Baton Rouge, LA  70802

    LABELLE AIRE HEAD START
    1919 N. Christy Drive
    Baton Rouge, LA  70815

    NEW HORIZON HEAD START
    1111 N. 28th Street
    Baton Rouge, LA  70802

    PROGRESS I HEAD START
    1881 Progress Road
    Baton Rouge, LA  70807

    PROGRESS II HEAD START
    1881 Progress Road
    Baton Rouge, LA  70807

    WONDERLAND HEAD START
    1500 Oleander Street
    Baton Rouge, LA  70802

     

    The Division of Human Development & Services (DHDS) will close to the general public as of 3:00 pm effective March 18, 2020 until it is deemed appropriate to re-open. This decision was made based on the guidance issued by the CDC regarding large gatherings of no more than ten people. Our main goal is the safety of our community and staff. Our customers are at the heart of what we do at DHDS, and this decision was not made without proper consideration of those we serve.

    Staff at DHDS will be available to answer any questions from our existing customers. To contact our departments:

    EmployBR​​​​                                        225-358-4579
    Office of Social Service                  225-358-4561
    Head Start                                       ​​​​225-358-4504
    Ryan White                                     ​​​​225-358-1956

    Once a re-opening date is determined we will inform our community.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Baton Rouge City Court ends normal hours until April 20

    Normal court operations at Baton Rouge City Court has been suspended until April 20, 2020. The court will be open to the public to take civil filings and to pay fines and fees.

    However, city officials are encouraging the public to pay fines and fees online or by telephone and to utilize fax filing for civil cases. Our fax filing number is (225)389-5260. All prescriptive periods will remain unaffected at this time.

    All cases will be reassigned and the court will send notice to the last address that was provided on file. It is your responsibility to ensure that the court has a current address.

    Make online payments here:
    https://hdweb.brgov.com/apps/courts/default.asp?Perform=Main

    For any payment questions please call (225)389-5279.

    Read more »
  • ,

    La. National Guard activates soldiers for medical, other support

    The Louisiana National Guard, as directed by Governor John Bel Edwards, has activated more than 94 soldiers and airmen not to include full-time guardsmen, to assist with the COVID-19 response on March 17. The number of guardsmen activated and equipment utilized is anticipated to increase until the situation is stabilized.

    The Louisiana National Guard has mobilized Guardsmen to support current operations, including medical support, engineering assessment support, shelter security, traffic control point support and provided liaison teams to Parish Emergency Operations Centers.

    “Aside from our Guardsmen already responding, we are continuing to lean forward and plan for possible follow-on missions that we may be called upon to perform,” said Brig. Gen. D. Keith Waddell, adjutant general of the LANG. “As our missions develop and increase, today’s preparations will lead to tomorrow’s success.”

    In order to assist civil authorities, the LANG is ensuring the health and safety of its Soldiers and Airmen. The LANG is actively taking steps to support health protection in order to maintain mission readiness, such as: limiting non mission-specific travel, educating and enforcing strict CDC-recommended hygiene measures, and monitoring Guardsmen’s temperature readings and overall health on a daily basis.

    ONLINE: http://www.geauxguard.com

    By Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office

    Read more »
  • ,

    Baton Rouge sees its first positive Coronavirus case

    EAst Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced the first COVID-19 positive case, commonly referred to as coronavirus, in East Baton Rouge Parish Tuesday, March 17. Over the past few weeks,Broome has been coordinating with local, state and federal officials and healthcare providers.

    “City-Parish and our COVID-19 healthcare partners are ready for this,” said Broome. “I want every member of the public to understand the critical role they play at this point – that is to follow the guidance we have been communicating and reiterating. It is vital that residents adhere to practicing social distancing and self-isolation if you have symptoms.”

    Mayor Broome’s office will continue coordinating the response for the community.

    Read more »
  • ,

    EBR Parish Library updates hours, cancellations due to public health concerns

    As of Monday, March 16, all 14 East Baton Rouge Parish Library locations will observe modified hours due to public health concerns:

     

    Monday through Saturday

    Open 10 am until 12:30 pm

    Closed 12:30 – 2:30 pm for cleaning

    Reopen 2:30 until 6 pm

    Sunday

    Open 3 until 6 pm

     

    This will allow staff to perform a substantial cleaning at more frequent intervals.

    Telephone assistance to help with renewals, holds, reference and information requests, and technical support with accessing the Digital Library will be available at normal service hours at each location. Library Information Service is available at 225-231-3750. Hours and locations are listed on the website.

     

    Drive-through Pickup/Drop Off windows are available during normal service hours at the Main Library on Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd. as well as at the Fairwood Branch Library, 12910 Old Hammond Highway. Drop-off boxes at all branches are still available.

     

    The Library offers thousands of online resources available in its Digital Library for patrons who wish to maintain social distancing during this time. E-books, e-magazines, e-audiobooks, streaming media including music, films, documentaries, and concerts are freely available to any patron with a current East Baton Rouge Parish Library card. www.ebrpl.com/digital.html.

     

    Special resources designed for young children include: Miss Humblebee’s Academy; Pebble Go; Sesame Street E-books; Early World of Learning; Scholastic Watch and Learn.

     

    Additionally; Children’s Services staff maintains a curated list of suggested sites on their home page: www.ebrpl.com/Kids/index.html including Fun Stuff for Kids, Preschool Resources, Museums with “digital” tours, Parenting info, and of course, homework help.

     

    Library staff have also created and posted more than 40 Bedtime Storytime videos on their Facebook Page, accessible from the Library Kids Page or viawww.facebook.com/EBRPLKids.

     

    Fun Resources geared to elementary students include: Tumble Books; Tumble Book Cloud Jr; Tumble Math; Pebble Go Next; Abdo Zoom; Scholastic Flix Collection: ScienceFlix; TrueFlix; BookFlix; and FreedomFlix; Muzzy Language Learning; OverDrive eReading Room.

     

    Resources geared especially to teens include: TeenBookCloud; OverDrive; Kanopy

     

    Homework Help for all ages:

     

    SPECIAL INTEREST: Brain HQ; CreativeBug; AtoZ World Food; Mango Languages; Pronunciator; Signing Savvy; Hobbies and Craft Reference Center; Home Improvement Reference Center; HeritageQuest; Fold 3; Baton Rouge Digital Archives.

     

    Many Library programs, public meetings and events been canceled. The Library’sonline calendar will be updated frequently to indicate any new cancellations.

     

    Tools and resources on the coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found on the Infoguide at ebrpl.libguides.com/coronavirus.

    Read more »
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    Portrait of LSU professor Julian T. White becomes mural in college’s atrium

    At the epicenter of LSU’s Baton Rouge campus stands the College of Art + Design. Sixty-eight feet above the entrance to the building’s atrium, a master artist and his team work in a flurry of color, transforming a once empty wall into a campus landmark. The halls, known for producing some of the greatest visionaries of Louisiana, now directly honors one of the most iconic and boundary-breaking professors: Julian T. White. 

    The portrait mural, championed together by The Walls Project, LSU Foundation, and the College of Art + Design, honors the legacy of the first Black professor at Louisiana State University. When Julian T. White joined LSU’s faculty in 1971 to teach architecture, he paved a way for people of all backgrounds to have equal opportunity.  He spent thirty-three years as an educator at LSU, impacting his students, inspiring them to break barriers, and cultivating several waves of strong architects. White maintained an architecture firm in Baton Rouge with projects at area schools and churches across the country. He also taught at Southern University and Tuskegee University while serving on the State of Louisiana’s Board of Architectural Examiners.

    Julian White

    Julian White

    After his passing in 2011, the LSU Art+Design department honored  White’s work by naming the building’s atrium after him. In addition to this, leadership wanted to memorialize him in a bold and meaningful way.

    “When we were thinking about how to celebrate the naming of this space, we came upon the idea of doing a mural and not just a little bronze plaque that no one would read. We thought that this man’s contribution that freed and opened the doors of LSU to everyone was great enough to be commemorated in a way just as exceptional as he and his teaching was,” said Alkis Tsolakis, dean of the LSU College of Art + Design. Tsolakis said he has inspired by a small picture cut out from Julian T. White’s driver’s license, a gift he received from the late professor’s wife, Loretta White. “His picture sits on my desk and looks at me every day,” said Tsolakis.

    47e7e08d-c8ca-491a-bedf-50ccfc1af902

    Robert Dafford and Miguel Lasala create the Portrait of Julian White mural in LSU’s College of Design+Art.

    As the mural design began The Walls Project had 99 public murals in their catalog. The organization was ecstatic for this landmark mural to become its cornerstone 100th public artwork. To complete the job, Robert Dafford, a master muralist with nearly 500 public artworks, was selected for the job. Globally known for his murals, Dafford has painted murals in the United States, France, England, Belgium, and Canada. When hearing about the project he happily accepted.

    “I am very excited to paint something in the arts building and to honor Julian White who was the pioneer minority person who opened the doors for so many that followed,” said Dafford. “That’s an honor for me to get to do this and to paint so much diversity. The student body is so diverse now and I want to reflect that it started with this man leading the way.”

    This mural’s completion has not come easily. Working at an active college campus in a nearly 70-foot space led to some engineering challenges. To combat the foot-traffic and vertical spacing issues, Dafford ingeniously designed a pulley system for the mural to be created as three large canvas panels. Work was going smoothly until Dafford fell from a ladder at his studio and broke his foot and ankle. The injury sustained required surgery and recovery time, halting production for another six months. Despite this setback, Dafford worked with his assistants to finish whatever he could while battling reduced mobility.

    Muralist Robert Dafford

    Muralist Robert Dafford

    By the beginning of this year, Dafford was healed and ready to finally install the panels. The first pieces went up at the beginning of February. Dafford, with his production assistant, Miguel Lasala, began finishing the elaborate and large piece in the heart of the atrium. The project is proposed to be finished in early March for generations of students and faculty to enjoy.

    The Portrait of Julian White mural is already touching the lives of those around it. From LSU’s Art + Design team to the students who see it every day, Julian T. White’s impact is still being made.

    “This project means everything to me. It means another step in freeing LSU and making a home for everyone. Another step in what Julian White did for LSU, for Louisiana, and for the world,” said Tsolakis.

    Feature photo by Micah Viccinelli.

    By Helena Williams
    Special to The Drum

    Read more »
  • Barrow will hold a series of community meetings this month

    District 15 State Senator Regina Barrow will hold a series of community meetings across the district to discuss a variety of issues, including the upcoming Regular Legislative Session. Representatives from various state and local agencies have been invited to attend. Senator Barrow and her colleagues will provide updates on on-going state policy and budget matters. Citizens are urged to attend and take advantage of this opportunity to get the latest information and have a say on important issues facing the state.

    COMMUNITY MEETINGS
    Thursday, March 5, 2020
    Zachary Branch Library
    1900 Church St.
    Zachary, LA 70791
    6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

    Thursday, March 12, 2020
    Baker Branch Library
    3501 Groom Rd.
    Baker, LA 70714
    6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

    Tuesday, March 17, 2020
    BREC North Sherwood Forest Community Park
    3140 North Sherwood Forest Dr.
    Baton Rouge, LA 70814
    6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

    For additional information, please contact Senator Barrow’s office at 225.359.940

    Read more »
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    Southern University plans 140th Founders’ Day, March15

    Southern University throughout March will celebrate its annual Founders’ Day. The university, which was established in 1880, is celebrating “140 Years of Excellence and Impact” in Louisiana and throughout the world. The Convocation, to be held on Monday, March 15, will feature Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards as the keynote speaker. The event will be held at 10 a.m. in the F.G. Clark Activity Center on the Baton Rouge campus.

    Southern was established as an act of legislature, with its first campus in New Orleans. The institution relocated to Baton Rouge as part of its land grant mission in 1914. Since then, the university has grown into the only system of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the nation. Campuses today include Southern University Baton Rouge, Southern University at New Orleans, Southern University Shreveport and Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

    Other events scheduled for the System-wide celebration include:

    Sunday, March 8
    SOUTHERN Sunday
    Churches and other places of worship are invited to participate in a virtual recognition of Southern University in Sunday services and on social media. For more information and to register, click here.

    March 9
    Southern University Laboratory School Pilgrimage
    9 a.m., Clark Gravesites, back of campus

    March 19
    First Day of Spring on the Bluff
    Noon, back of campus

    March 19
    Southern University Ag Center presents Natalie Baszille, author of “Queen Sugar.”
    Time and location TBD

    March 31
    SU Day at the Capitol
    Louisiana State Capitol

    For more information, go to www.subr.edu. All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. For more information on alumni events, go to www.sualumni.org.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Conference helps teens JOLT their voice

    Local teens can discover the power of their voice Saturday, March 28 at JOLTcon, at Goodwood Library. First of its kind in Baton Rouge, this conference is planned and hosted by the young adults of The Futures Fund and The Walls Project.

    This event is for youth to discover, through stories and workshops, how to take charge and JOLT their voices into existence. Six peer speakers will introduce attendees to the journey of finding the power of their voice and defining who they are.

    After a catered lunch break, teens are able to take the inspiration from the speakers and put it into concrete outlets. Teens are able to discover their voice through learning a tech hackathon, a workshop on phone photography, or various workshops on self-care from a teenage perspective. These workshops, while led by adult mentors, are partnered with a teen host, allowing for true collaboration between youth and adults.

    This event was made possible through the support of the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund, Foundation for Louisiana, Sparkhound Foundation, Louisiana Tech Park, Lamar Advertising and many others.

    Those wanting to register for a free JOLTcon ticket can do so by going to bit.ly/joltcon. Tickets are limited and workshops are first come first serve, so register early!

    ONLINE: wallsproject.org/joltcon

    Read more »
  • CANCELLED: New Venture Theatre presents ‘Annie: Tomorrow is Here’

    New Venture Theatre presents Annie, one of America’s most beloved musicals, March 27 – 29, on the LSU Shaver Theatre Stage.

    “Annie” is directed by New Venture’s artistic director Greg Williams Jr. and choreographed by Dwight Bell, with music direction by Marcus Haney. Showtimes and tickets for “Annie” are available.

    A fixture on the theatre scene in Baton Rouge, Williams usually directs shows with a certain flair from the original. Williams is basing this production in Harlem, New York, during the launch of the Harlem Renaissance. To lead the cast in understanding the fashion and style of this era, R’Myni Watson, “Annie’s” assistant director, will offer historical workshops to the cast throughout rehearsals.

    “I was inspired to do this show because one of my actors came up to me after a production last season and said, ‘I wish I could do Annie, but I can’t because I’m Black.’ This got the gears in my mind working, and I had to ask the question: why can’t Annie be any race possible?”

    “One of my favorite movies is Disney’s Cinderella (1997), and I loved how they focused on telling a beautiful story that we can all relate to and connect with—not just one race! What a beautiful gift it would be to have a show featuring all different walks of life telling a universal story that celebrates uniting us and not dividing! At the end of the day, ‘Annie’ represents a much-needed reminder of perseverance, hope, faith, and joy! In spite of difficult times and the hardships Annie suffers, she remains resilient!” Williams said.

    In order to set a similar context for the audience, Williams’ production will feature a scenic design that celebrates Harlem during the 1920s and 1930s.
    “The goal of our cast is for audience members to be caught up in the colorful, vivid imagination of a child, Annie’s optimism, and know—as she does—that a new day will always dawn, bringing hope for the future,” Williams said.

    The 34-member cast will portray the memorable “Annie” characters, including the evil Miss Hannigan, who runs the orphanage; the orphan girls, who help Annie escape; orphans she meets in her search for family; Clayton Powell Jr. and members of his administration; Rooster and Lily (pretending to be her long-lost parents); and the billionaire Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks, who brings Annie into his own family. Annie is a family-friendly musical suitable for the entire family, including children aged 5 and older. No one under the age of four will be allowed in the theatre and all children ages 4-13 must be accompanied by an adult.

    ANNIE CAST
    Christine Jean-Batiste – Annie
    T C Scott – Daddy Warbucks
    Hope Landor – Grace
    Erika Pattman – Ms. Hannigan
    Candy – Sandy
    Orphans: Laila Miles – Molly; Jermany Oliney – Kate; Addison Papillion – Tessie; and Zaria Brown – Pepper
    Carlyle Rufalo – July, Usher 1
    Alysse Davis – Duffy, Usher 2
    Jarvis Stewart – Bundles McCloskey, Man 1, Bert Healy, Ickas, and Judge Brandeis
    Brandon Ray – Couple 2, Man 2, Male servant 1, Navy sailor 1, Sound effect man, and Perkins
    Justin Thompson – Dog Catcher, Drake, Man Carrying Gifts, Jimmy Johnson, and Hull
    Dion Sideboard – Assistant Dog Catcher, 2nd Policeman, Male Servant 4, Thief, and Rooster
    Tyelor Sykes – Policeman, Lt. Ward, Chauffer, Santa, Masked Announcer, and Morganthau
    Anthony Joe – Man 3, Male servant 2, Navy sailor 2, Fred McCracken, and Marine guard
    Henry Holmes – Paperboy 2
    Braedon Mbala – Cop, Elf, Producer
    Christian Jones – Clayton Powell Jr.
    Kodie Brown – Hooverville Member #4, Servant #3, Navy sailor #3, and Howe (Louis)
    Kennedi Davenport – Apple Seller, Mrs. Greer (Housekeeper), Star to Be, and Boyland Sister (Bonnie)
    Mackenzie Thomas – Couple, Woman, Cecille the French Maid, and Showgirl 2
    Nataklemia Green – Sophie (Soup Cook), Mrs. Pugh, and Shopper 1
    Charde Nelson – Eddie, Annette (the French Maid), and Showgirl 1
    Maniquwa Holmes – Woman 2, Shopper 2, and Lily
    Kali Jones – Woman 3 and Showgirl 3
    Kaylee Gomez – Woman 4, Shopper 3, and Boylan Sister (Ronnie)
    Courtney Myer – Woman with a baby carriage, and Boylan Sister (Connie)
    Braydon Smith – Paperboy 1

    SCHEDULE:
    Friday, March 27, 2020, at 7:30 p.m.
    Saturday, March 28, 2020, at 7:30 p.m.
    Sunday, March 29, 2020, at 3:00 p.m.

    TICKET PRICES:
    Regular Admission | $30
    Kids and Students With Valid ID | $25
    Groups of 10 or More | $20 must purchase prior to performance day

    BOX OFFICE
    225-588-7576 or www.newventuretheatre.org
    Call 225-588-7576 or visit www.newventuretheatre.org to purchase tickets or subscriptions.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Dana Hayes teaches beauty, hair care, business with Junior Cosmetology classes

    Dana Hayes, a native of Port Allen, was inspired to start and create Junior Cosmetology because of her mother Ora Lee Breax Williams who was a hairstylist.

    Now, at 40-years-old, Hayes has taken that interest and passion into a classroom where she teaches young girls how to care for, protect, and have pride in their natural, healthy hair.

    “These are lifelong skills each girl can learn and keep with them for the rest of their lives. I’m teaching them how to make money. I’m teaching them to be girl bosses, business owners, and female entrepreneurs. To be their own Boss… strong and confident,” Hayes said.

    “I started Junior Cosmetology during 2017 and I’ve had the pleasure of hosting many successful events. (Students) get a chance to dream and imagine while learning something new and exploring the ever-changing world of cosmetology.”

    Participants attend class professionally dressed in all black. Hayes provides mannequin heads and all supplies. Hayes said she plans to host classes in schools, churches and social groups around Louisiana over the next five years and introduce Junior Cosmetology as an elective like dance.

    “Students learn the fundamentals of healthy hair care, natural styles, parting, sectioning, proper comb, and brush placement, product knowledge, braiding, and cutting! This class also teaches them how to be confident in the skin they are in. They learn how to take care and manage their natural hair and appreciate its beauty.”

    She told the story of a young girl whose father brought her to each class. “She has participated in four or five classes thus far,” said Hayes. “She came in not know anything about hair or braiding and now she can braid a full head. Her dad purchased a mannequin that she practice on and he would send Dana pictures and videos of her work. She has improved tremendously. She is my star student and most improved student.”

    Hayes said she enjoys seeing the girls become excited about cosmetology. They are willing to learn something new and trendy. “The girls are smiling and excited but also very nervous at the same time,” she said.

    Along with the regular classes, Hayes offers private Junior Cosmetology events and limited free classes to introduce the business and her teaching technique to the community.

    ONLINE: @JuniorCosmetology

    By Yulani S. Semien
    Youth Reporter

    Read more »
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    NAACP — vigilant in removing Judge from bench — thanks community

    During this week of addressing the troubling issue of 23rd Judicial District Court Judge Jessie Leblanc’s use of racial slurs, this matter has resulted in Leblanc’s resignation letter of February 27, 2020.

    To community members and advocates, thank you so much for coming together to ensure this outcome. It is with your continued support and efforts that we can fight injustices like this.

    It is with gratitude that we thank Governor John Bel Edwards for addressing this matter head-on, standing up for what’s right and vocalizing what was needed.

    To the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, thank you for your collective strength and support in addressing this matter.

    In addition, we’d like to thank the various media outlets for presenting this issue in a fair and consistent manner.

    Lastly, we thank our state president Michael McClanahan and all NAACP Baton Rouge Branch members for its consolidated and unyielding efforts.

    This issue was disheartening, but it provided an opportunity for us to demonstrate the strength of our collective voice. When we all work together, we win!

    And while this issue has been addressed, we must continue to stay vigilant. As we look to a person to fill this seat vacancy, we must take up the responsibility of voting to ensure that whoever fills that seat is one who is equitable and who fairly represents the broader community.

    Sincerely,

    Eugene Collins Michael W. McClanahan
    President State President
    NAACP Baton Rouge Branch NAACP Louisiana State Conference

    Read more »
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    Help find the Angels who serve children

    The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation is seeking nominations for the 2018 Angel Award® through Friday, March 13, 2020. The Angel Award® program recognizes Louisiananians who have dedicated themselves to improving life for the state’s children.

    Each year, the Foundation makes a $25,000 grant to the Louisiana-based nonprofit represented by each honoree. Those nonprofits are also eligible to participate in ongoing opportunities, like the Foundation’s Angels of Change program – which funds partnerships of past honorees working together to solve problems for children.

    According to Foundation President Michael Tipton, the Angel Award isn’t tied to wealth or prestige – but true acts of service for Louisiana’s kids. “It’s not whether they have a big title or a lot of money – the Angels we’re looking for are everyday people doing extraordinary good over a long period of time.”

    Indeed, previous Angel Award honorees represent all vocations and include retirees, students and everything in between. Each was chosen for one reason: their impact on the lives of Louisiana’s kids through countless hours of devotion.

    Tipton encourages those who have submitted nominations before, but whose nominees have not been chosen, to re-submit their nominee. “It is tough for our past honorees to choose just eight individuals from the 150+ nominations we receive each year. But in every new class, there are a few folks who have been nominated once or twice before who get chosen. In other words, persistence pays off,” he said.

    If you know an Angel, you can find more information – including rules and guidelines –and a nomination form online at www.bcbslafoundation.org/nominate

    About the Blue Cross Foundation

    The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation works each day to improve the health and lives of Louisianians by empowering everyday people to do extraordinary good. By building and funding coalitions of friends, families and neighbors, the Foundation hopes to build a healthier Louisiana, particularly for its children. The foundation is funded solely by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, but is a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity. Together Blue Cross and the Blue Cross Foundation invest $3 million each year into Louisiana’s communities and nonprofits.

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  • LLBC, Gov. Edwards calls on 23rd Judicial District Judge Jessie LeBlanc to Resign

    The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus and Gov. John Bel Edwards today called on 23rd Judicial Judge Jessie LeBlanc to resign after she admitted to using racial slurs in reference to an Ascension parish deputy and a court employee.

    Gov. Edwards said:

    “The admitted and repeated use of racial slurs by a judge who has taken an oath to administer justice fairly and impartially is wrong, period. There is never any circumstance or context in which such derogatory and degrading language is okay.

    Sadly, inequities still exist in society and in our judicial system. Judge LeBlanc has compromised her ability to preside as a judge, and she has damaged the judiciary. She should resign. The people of the 23rd Judicial District and our state deserve better.”

    Here is the statement from the LLBC:
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    Additionally, the NAACP released this statement, Feb. 26:

    We are dismayed and extremely disappointed that Judge Jessie LeBlanc, through her attorney Jill Craft who has communicated multiple versions of what occurred, is using the cloak of a private conversation to justify the use of intentional racial discourse to refer to various Officers of the Court. It is well known that the N-Word is a profoundly hurtful racial slur meant to stigmatize African Americans and should not be used at any time or in any circumstance.

    Judge LeBlanc has served on the Louisiana Sentencing Commission for several years and has decided thousands of cases, many involving the welfare and freedoms of African Americans. It is impossible to reconcile the possibility that Judge LeBlanc was fair and impartial while serving on this Commission or as magistrate while serving the 23rd Judicial District Court in light of her recent disturbing unsolicited racist remarks to another Officer of the Court.

    Judge LeBlanc has demonstrated that she is racially biased against African Americans, and it is only fair that all of the cases for which she served as a District Court Judge and Hearing Officer be reviewed.

    We applaud Governor John Bell Edwards, The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, and leaders, locally, statewide, nationally and internationally for taking a stand to uphold the integrity of the Judicial System. Judge Leblanc’s attempt to double down on the context and forum for which these harmful words were said is shameful.

    Sincerely,

    President. Eugene Collins, BR NAACP Branch
    President. Michael McClanahan, NAACP Convention

    Read more »
  • ,,

    High schoolers invited to CNA Institute

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation is accepting applications for the College & Career Ready Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Institute, which is available to high school students in greater Baton Rouge with a GPA of 2.5 of higher and ages 16 and older. The CNA Institute is designed for youth who are interested in health care careers. The deadline to apply is March 16, 2020. Click here to apply.

    Participants who successfully complete the program will graduate as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Students should be at least 16 years old by the first day of the institute, which is April 6, 2020, to be eligible for the program.

    During the institute, participants will:

    • Complete classroom and clinical instruction necessary for certification in 12 weeks
    • Prepare for employment in long-term care facilities, home health agencies, hospitals and private medical agencies
    • Train to take vital signs and develop patient sensitivity skills
    • Assist with physical exams and obtain cultures
    • Develop communication skills to interact with patients and their families.

    The EMR Institute will take place April 6 – June 25, 2020. The deadline to apply is March 16, 2020. Learn more here.

    Click here to apply.

    For more information, contact Kathryn Robinson, UREC Youth Program Director, at (225) 356-8871 ext. 204 or krobinson@urecbr.com.

    Read more »
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    Southern University alumna earns Ship Handler of the Year

    Lt. j.g. Monique Jefferson earned the Ship Handler of the Year award, which is given to Surface Warfare Officers who demonstrate superior performance while standing Officer of The Deck Underway onboard the Navy’s newest platform, the Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship.

    Jefferson is from Katy, Texas and earned her commission from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her qualifications include Surface Warfare, Officer of the Deck, and Anti-terrorism Tactical Watch Officer. She recently completed a seven-month deployment to the Persian Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean Ocean when she was previously stationed onboard the USS James E. Williams (DDG 95).

    Surface Warfare Officers are Naval officers whose training and primary duties focus on the operation of Navy ships at sea, leading Sailors and managing the various shipboard systems and programs. The SWO community offers a wide variety of assignments and duty stations across the world.

    Jefferson is currently the Weapons Officer onboard the USS Indianapolis Blue crew and is the expert for all weapons systems onboard the LCS Platform. Her responsibilities include daily verification that all weapons systems are fully operational and combat-ready. Additionally, she is responsible for ensuring her sailors are fully qualified trained and are developing personally and professionally.

    When asked what her favorite thing is about her ship she eagerly answers, “multiple jobs.” All of the personnel stationed onboard the Indianapolis are required to train and demonstrate proficiency in areas outside their assigned billet. This inter-departmental experience allows everyone aboard LCS to cross-train and be a major player aboard the ship.

    Read more »
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    Young Leaders’ Academy extends application deadline

    Applications are being accepted for the 2019-2020 Young Leaders’ Academy of Baton Rouge, Inc. 

    The Young Leaders’ Academy of Baton Rouge, Inc. (YLA), is a program of academic excellence, leadership skill development and personal development for African American children in Baton Rouge. To encourage positive relationships, the Academy requires family involvement in the members’ activities with the program and offers access and opportunities for success to our members and families.

    YLA’s  Saturday Academy runs concurrently with the academic year and is held twice (2X) per month from 8:00-11:30 a.m. at Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC) campus.  Saturday Academy includes academic tutoring, field trips, educational games, STEM activities, computer lab access, conflict resolution, etiquette classes, nutrition, intramural sports, test-taking skills, financial literacy, gender-specific special workshops, and annual Summer Travel Experience. Parents are responsible for providing transportation to and from Academy programs.

    CRITERIA:

    • Each child must have a minimum 2.0 GPA in core curriculum subjects – Math, Language Arts, Science.
    • Child must be a non-retained 3rd-7th grader residing in the Greater Baton Rouge area (including Baker, Zachary, Central, Ascension and WBR) to enroll.
    • Parents and applicant must complete an Admissions Interview and sign Parental Engagement Contact.

     

    APPLICATIONS ARE DUE FEBRUARY 28, 2020! 

    To apply, please email tonya_ylabr@yahoo.com for a 1 page Admissions Application!

    The Young Leaders’ Academy exists to nurture the development of leadership abilities of young African American males and females, empowering them to improve the quality of their lives and be an active force for POSITIVE change in their communities.

    ONLINE: www.youngleaders.org 

    Read more »
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    ExxonMobil Employees Inspire Girls to Pursue Careers in Engineering

    ExxonMobil employee volunteers today welcomed 140 middle-school girls from 14 schools in both East and West Baton Rouge Parish to the Louisiana Arts & Sciences Museum for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, a program designed to inspire female students to consider careers engineering.

    “Research shows that when students have role models and are given the opportunity to engage in hands-on engineering activities, it builds their interest in engineering-related fields and most importantly their self-confidence,” said ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Plastics Plant Manager Angela Zeringue. “Programs like the one today expose young women in our community to the exciting world of engineering and introduces them to a number of great role models working in our facilities. We know they will have fun today and we hope that many of them will be influenced to join the growing number of women in engineering and other STEM fields. At ExxonMobil, our people are our greatest asset, and the diversity of our workforce makes us more competitive, more resilient and better able to navigate the complex and constantly changing global energy business.”

    Through hands-on, interactive experiments such as a car engineering activity, approximately 30 ExxonMobil employees will lead a series of problem-solving activities. Students will learn how creativity and ingenuity can be used in the classroom, and how knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math subjects can lead to rewarding engineering careers.

    More than 15,000 students across the U.S. have participated in Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day since the program’s inception in 2003.

    According to the Society of Women Engineers, women account for only 13 percent of the engineering practice, which are typically high-paying and high-demand jobs.

    ExxonMobil employs more than 20,000 scientists and engineers around the world, working collaboratively with other companies and academic institutions to develop new energy technologies, improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Part of DiscoverE’s annual Girl Day campaign, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day serves to improve education and raise awareness of the need for more young people to consider engineering as a profession.

     

    CAPTION: Glen Oaks Magnet High School middle school students attended ExxonMobil’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day at Louisiana Art & Science Museum. Students engaged in hands-on STEM activities and took part in photo ops with East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. Students are, from left: Lillian Milligan, Leah Trumble, Makayla Hartley, Cherish Hills, Leah Ware and Labriana Gaines.

     

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    Grower training, Hemp summit, and ‘Queen Sugar’ headline SU’s Louisiana Small Farmers Conference

    For a decade, the Southern University Ag Center’s Louisiana Small Farmers Conference has provided the state’s small agricultural producers with strategies and information on the latest educational tools and resources to help them stay in business.

    This year, the Center brings, “Investing in Your Small Farm Business,” at the Southern University’s Felton G. Clark Activity Center, March 18-21. Conference activities include a grant writing panel, networking opportunities, an exhibit hall, and the Louisiana Living Legends Luncheon, which honors individuals who have made significant contributions to Southern University in the areas of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences. Two pre-conference sessions will be held Wednesday, March 18. Participants will have the option of attending either a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training or a Louisiana HEMP Summit0

    The Louisiana Hemp Summit will include ask the lawyer, scientist, farmer, and entrepreneur sessions on state laws, regulations, USDA opportunities, and application processes.

    Natalie Basile, author "Queen Sugar"

    Natalie Baszile, author “Queen Sugar”

    On Friday, March 20, Natalie Baszile, author of the Louisiana based novel “Queen Sugar” will be the keynote speaker on Friday, March 20th.  Baszile is an award-winning author best known for her book, Queen Sugar, about a Black woman who unexpectedly inherits eight hundred acres of sugarcane land in rural Louisiana and she is reminded by her grandmother and other family members that cane farming is always going to be a white man’s business. The book explores the complexities of contemporary southern life and farming. The book was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and has been adapted for television by Ava Duvernay and Oprah Winfrey.

    Limited complimentary registration for small farmers is available until February 28, 2020. After this date, the registration fee for the conference will be $75 for small farmers. The fee for agricultural professionals is $100. All fees should be made payable to the Southern University Foundation – ANR Programs in the form of a check or money order.  On-site registration will begin at 8 a.m. daily during the conference.  Agricultural exhibitors are welcome to participate.

    To register online, visit http://www.suagcenter.com/form/smallfarms. Exhibitors can register at http://www.suagcenter.com/form/exhibitor-registration-for-the-10th-annual-louisiana-small-farmer-conference.  For additional information contact Zanetta Augustine at 225.771.2591 or via e-mail at zanetta_augustine@suagcenter.com.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Kristen Downing opens ‘In Bloom’ exhibit at Southern University

    Kristen Downing is a self-taught visual artist from New Orleans. She began her career as a sought-after tattoo artist and developed a passion for painting. Her work is largely fueled by the social and political climate of America.
    Downing said it is the artist’s responsibility to speak to the times,  and she has focused her latest work on the current realities people of color in America. Her collections have left an impression.

    In 2018, Downing established KAWD Art Gallery in Baton Rouge with a mission to educate, inspire, and increase social consciousness.  She actively exhibits and commissions her work in New Orleans, Atlanta, and Baton Rouge. Her work has been on display at the New Orleans Contemporary Art Center, Aqua Art Miami and Spectrum Miami during Art Basel Miami, and Capital Park Museum – Baton Rouge. She earned first prize during the Louisiana Contemporary Exhibition in Prospect.4 at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

    Kristen Downing's painting The Son of NOLA, mixed media on canvas, is one of the paintings the artist will exhibit Feb 20 at Southern University.

    Kristen Downing’s painting The Son of NOLA, mixed media on canvas, is one of the paintings the artist will exhibit Feb 20 at Southern University.

    “Her imagery captures the bold, brashness of our current reality in a political context that isn’t nice, sweet, or pleasant. It’s in your face, it’s bold, it’s brazen, and it’s reality. She uses her art in the way protesters use their voice, leaders use their influence, and nations use their power,” said Kimmy Ducasse, writer at The Urban Realist.
     
    Downing’s work will be exhibited February 20 through April 2 in the Frank Hayden Hall Art Gallery at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge.
    The exhibition is curated by Randell Henry, associate professor of visual arts at Southern University.
    Read more »
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    McMeans shares medical marijuana program updates with BR Press Club

    Orlando F. McMeans, Ph.D., Chancellor-Dean of the Southern University Ag Center and the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences spoke to members of the Baton Rouge Press Club during the club’s weekly meeting on Feb. 10.

    The main topic for discussion during the meeting was the Ag Center’s Medical Marijuana Program.

    “We will be harvesting in the next week or so,” said McMeans about the Center’s first medical marijuana crop. The harvesting date is pending final approval by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the Louisiana Department of Health. After testing is conducted on the crop, products are expected to be available in dispensaries.

    “When you do something for the first time and you have these strict guidelines that are overseen by so many different agencies, every step has to be approved,” said McMeans. “We want to make sure we follow the necessary steps to produce a quality product.”

    McMeans explained that the Center plans to do more than just produce medical marijuana but also conduct research on developing new varieties of marijuana to target specific ailments.

    McMeans also discussed the Center’s research into hemp and the recent ribbon cutting and the unveiling of the Center’s hemp-derived CBD product line, Alafia Healthcare, with partner Ilera Holistic Healthcare.

    This makes Southern University the first historically Black college or university to launch a CBD line.

    He also shared information on upcoming academic student support that will be implemented within the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences; increasing the Ag Center’s Cooperative Extension footprint within the state; and seeking resources to enhance and grow the programs and services of the Ag Center and the College.

    McMeans’ speech is available in its entirety on the Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s Youtube channel.

    By LaKeeshia Lusk
    Contributing Writer

    Read more »
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    Southern University Law Center receives federal funding for legal education teleconference studio

    The Southern University Law Center continues to be a champion for innovation and access for all. Recently, the Law Center was selected to receive funding through a United States Department of Agriculture Distance Learning and Telemedicine (USDA-DLT) grant for a new high-definition teleconference studio. The news comes as a part of a recent partnership with North Carolina Central University‘s Virtual Justice Project.

    “We are excited to partner with the Law Center on this new USDA grant,” said Gregory Clinton Sr., director of information technology and facilities at NCCU. “Equipping SULC with an Immersive Telepresence Studio will facilitate their ability to provide expert legal information in a new manner, as well as assist our programming in federal law.”

    The Virtual Justice Project is an initiative that provides virtual pre-law courses and high definition teleconference systems to churches and libraries. Through this project, NCCU has received six USDA-DLT grants. The grant allows the Virtual Justice Project to create the Southeast Expansion Service Area, which includes Louisiana.

    “Our partnership with NCCU and the Virtual Justice Project furthers our goal of being a progressive, innovative institution,” said John Pierre, chancellor of the Southern University Law Center. “With this new addition and partnership, legal education can become more accessible.”

    The Law Center will receive a Polycom RealPresence Immersive Studio, which will create a visual, audio, and collaboration experience. Faculty, students, and staff will be able to connect to webinars, clients, and the community. The studio seats up to twenty-one individuals.

    As the two institutions join together, the partnership will provide legal access to marginalized and rural communities in Louisiana and North Carolina.

     

    Read more »
  • Free tax prep days in Baton Rouge

    The City of Baton Rouge, Division of Human Development and Services, Office of Social Services will host free tax preparation through its VITA Program. Certified tax preparers will provide free tax preparation in four locations (see locations listed below) throughout East Baton Rouge Parish. Please call the phone number associated with each site to schedule your appointment to receive free tax preparation assistance. Eligible candidates must meet the requirement of gross income under $55,000.

    City of Baton Rouge Tax Preparation Sites

     Division of Human Development and Services

    4523 Plank Rd.

    Baton Rouge, LA 70805

    (225) 358-4561

    Mondays & Wednesdays, 5:00pm to 8:00pm

    Fridays, 9am to 3pm, by appointment

     

    Charles R. Kelly Community Center

    3535 Riley St.

    Baton Rouge, LA 70805

    (225) 357-5013

    Fridays, 9:00am to 3:00pm, by appointment

     

    Chaneyville Community Center

    13211 Jackson Road

    Zachary, LA 70791

    (225) 658-9790

    Fridays, 9am to 3pm, by appointment

     

    Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center

    4000 Gus Young Avenue

    Baton Rouge, LA 70802

    (225)389-7679 or (225) 389-7625

    Fridays, 9am-3pm, by appointment

    Read more »
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    Governor Edwards issues statement on guilty plea in case of church fires

    Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statement today on the guilty plea of Holden Matthews on six state charges and six federal charges, including six total hate crime charges, for setting three historic African-American churches on fire in St. Landry Parish last spring.

    Edwards said:

    “These unthinkable acts deprived three church communities of not only their places of worship, but their sense of security. Holden Matthews’ actions came from a place of hate and intolerance and the charges he has pled guilty to speak to the serious and sickening nature of his crimes.

    I have often said that hate is not a Louisiana value. I have visited and prayed with the congregations of St. Mary Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church, and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in the aftermath of these fires and saw unshakable faith and strength in the midst of tragedy and beautiful love and forgiveness spring forth from pain. I ask that the people of our state continue to pray for and support these three churches as they rebuild and continue their missions.

    I also thank the hundreds of members of law enforcement, including the State Fire Marshal’s office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice, Louisiana State Police, the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office, the St. Landry District Attorney’s office and others who assisted in this case.”

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Center to give the gift of hearing with free hearing aids

    The Emerge Center will give away a free pair of hearing aids to two people in need through their Gift of Hearing contest.

    Imagine a world filled with silence, being unable to share a laugh or conversations with family and friends. This is hearing loss – a silent disability that affects more than 31.5 million people each year in the United States. Often times, the ability to experience better hearing is financially out of reach for some people in our community.

    “In the true spirit of our continued mission to provide hearing to those in need, I am so excited that we are able to offer this opportunity to significantly change the life of someone isolated by their hearing loss,” said Nicole Stockstill, lead audiologist at The Emerge Center. “I am honored to be on the Emerge team where we get to give back to our community through our time and talents.”

    To participate in the Gift of Hearing contest, individuals must submit an essay of 400 words or less describing why they or someone they know would benefit from receiving a pair of hearing aids. The two winners will be selected based on the following criteria:

    • Hearing Need
    • Financial Need
    • Opportunity to impact the recipient’s life
    • Opportunity to impact the lives of people with whom they interact

    Essays can be submitted online by visiting www. emergehearing.org/contest. All individuals ages 21 and older are eligible. Submissions will be accepted through February 28 and a winner will be notified by March 16.

    The Emerge Center offers financial assistance and need-based scholarships to ensure that no one leaves their program before their goals are met. In 2019, Emerge provided discounted hearing aids to 74 individuals in the Greater Baton Rouge community. The core focus of their mission is helping adults and children live an active lifestyle with hearing loss.

     

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    LSU Women’s Center announces 2020 Esprit de Femme Award Recipients

    The LSU Women’s Center will recognize the outstanding achievements of the 2020 Esprit de Femme honorees at 8 a.m. on Thursday, April 30, at the eighth annual Esprit de Femme Sunrise Celebration and the 25th anniversary of the LSU Women’s Center. This year’s awards ceremony will be held at Boudreaux’s Banquet Hall in Baton Rouge. All proceeds will support the mission and initiatives of the LSU Women’s Center.

    Established in 2009, the Esprit de Femme award is an annual acknowledgement of a person who has made exceptional efforts toward the advancement of women in Louisiana. This award honors individuals who elevate the status of women in the community through their contributions to the arts, education, healthcare, business and industry, charity and civic engagement.

    This year also marks the fifth year that the Esprit de Femme Student Leadership Award will be given. This award will honor and recognize LSU students who exemplify the ideals and principles of the Esprit de Femme Award. Esprit de Femme Student Award recipients will receive financial support to further their academic pursuits. The award recipients will be selected in February and will be recognized at the Sunrise Celebration.

    “We are excited about all of our honorees and look forward to the opportunity to recognize their phenomenal contributions at the eighth annual Esprit de Femme Sunrise Celebration,” said Summer Steib, LSU Women’s Center director. “These women and men have made lasting impacts on the lives of countless women in our state and blazed trails for other women. Our 2020 honorees represent diverse backgrounds and accomplishments — our honorees are leaders and trail-blazers in government, the arts, the business sector, nonprofits, academics, and civic engagement.”’

    In 2020, the Esprit de Femme award will be presented to eight deserving recipients. The recipients are Kia Bickham, Morgan Lamandre, Michelle A. Massé, Karen Stagg, Alma C. Stewart, Beverly Brooks Thompson, Iam Christian Tucker and Erin Monroe Wesley. The 2020 Men Who Champion Women honoree is Roderic F. Teamer Sr.

    Kia Bickham

    Bickham is a strategic community engagement specialist. She served as political director for Gov. John Bel Edwards’ successful reelection campaign and is currently serving as the political director for the Mike Bloomberg presidential campaign in Louisiana. She has held numerous positions in state government and has been recognized as a 40 Under 40 honoree.

    Morgan Lamandre

    Lamandre is the legal director of Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response, a local nonprofit sexual assault center. She has served on various task forces to address sexual assault in Louisiana and has drafted and testified in support of several bills that address sexual violence before the Louisiana Legislature.

    Michelle A. Massé

    Massé is the founding director of Women’s and Gender Studies at LSU, president of the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages and represents higher education on the Governor’s Commission on Women’s Policy and Research Commission. Her scholarship focuses upon the many intersections among gender, psychoanalysis, and fiction, and she has received many grants for furthering research in these areas.

    Karen Stagg

    Stagg has served as the executive director of Connections For Life for 13 years. Connections is a non-profit, prison reentry program for formerly incarcerated women. Stagg is an LSU graduate and spent her first career as a healthcare operation executive. She serves on several boards supporting reentry for women.

    Alma C. Stewart

    Stewart is the founder and president of the Louisiana Center for Health Equity, a nonprofit organization she established in 2010 to address disparities in health and health care, with a focus on wellness and community health. She is a registered nurse, former career state civil servant, an entrepreneur, and avid advocate.

    Beverly Brooks Thompson

    Thompson is the managing director for Cater Global-Global – an international fundraising advising and philanthropic management consulting firm. She is a published academic and practitioner in the field of philanthropic leadership. Beverly was the director for Forever LSU: The Campaign for Louisiana State University, raising more than $798 million

    Iam Christian Tucker

    Tucker is the president and CEO of Integrated Logistical Support Inc., or ILSI Engineering. ILSI Engineering is a 100 percent female, minority-owned, civil engineering firm. Tucker is a passionate advocate for New Orleans and its people. She is a member of the non-partisan advocacy group African American Women of Purpose and Power

    Erin Monroe Wesley

    Wesley is the southeast vice president of government and public affairs at Cox Communications, overseeing governmental and public affairs efforts in Louisiana, Florida and Georgia. Prior to joining Cox, she served as special counsel for Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.

    Roderic F. Teamer Sr

    Teamer is the director of diversity programs and business development at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana. He is also a member of LSU’s National Diversity Advisory Board. He is active in supporting civic and community organizations in both the Baton Rouge and New Orleans communities.

    Online registration for the Eighth Annual Esprit de Femme Sunrise Celebration will be available Wednesday, Feb 5, at www.lsufoundation.org/edf. Tickets, tables, sponsorships, and honoree recognitions can be secured through the registration portal.

    The LSU Women’s Center is part of the LSU Office of Diversity and provides support, referral, and information to students, faculty and staff on issues and concerns related to women. The center also promotes the advancement of gender equity issues and wellbeing through its services, educational programs and advocacy efforts.

    For additional information about the programs and initiatives of the Women’s Center, visit our website at,http://www.lsu.edu/diversity/womens_center/.

     

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  • Donavan L. Johnson named BRCC dean of students

    Baton Rouge Community College has named Donavan L. Johnson, EdD as the dean of students. In this role, he will provide leadership, organization, supervision, and evaluation for the Office of the Dean of Students and Office of Student Life, including student clubs, organizations, and the Student Government Association. He is also the primary administrative contact and advocate for BRCC students in regards to concerns and grievances wherein he will administer college policies and procedures regarding student’s rights and responsibilities. He will work collaboratively with deans, department chairs, faculty, and academic support personnel to achieve student access and success. He began his new role in January 2020.

    Before coming to BRCC, Johnson served as the assistant to the dean for undergraduate affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he assisted the dean and associate deans with planning, coordinating, and implementing college retention and student success initiatives.

    Johnson has also served leadership roles in a variety of extracurricular affairs. He was a co-organizer and panelist for the 2019 Southern Miss Student Leadership Summit: Minorities in Leadership: Living, Leading, and Succeeding. He has served as chair of conduct hearing panels and as co-chair of housing and residence life conduct boards; facilitated sexual misconduct cases; and served on tuition and housing appeal committees. He also served as chapter president and as an on-campus advisor for the Kappa Iota chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc.

    He earned a doctorate of education in higher education and administration from the University of Southern Mississippi. He also holds a master’s of science in student affairs and a bachelor’s of science in history, both from the University of West Alabama. He was the 2017 recipient of the W. L. Pierce Leadership in Higher Education Award.  He holds memberships in the Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) organizations.

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    Hundreds planned for SU Ag Center’s 10th annual Louisiana Small Farmer Conference  

    For a decade, the Southern University Ag Center’s Louisiana Small Farmers Conference has provided the state’s small agricultural producers with strategies and information on the latest educational tools and resources to help them stay in business.   This year’s conference themed, “Investing In Your Small Farm Business,” will be held at Southern University’s Felton G. Clark Activity Center from March 18-21.   Two pre-conference sessions will be held on Wednesday, March 18.

    Participants will have the option of attending either a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training or a Louisiana HEMP Summit on this day. The conference will officially begin on Thursday, March 19.

    Natalie Baszile, author of the Louisiana-based novel “Queen Sugar” will be the keynote speaker on Friday, March 20th.   Baszile is an award-winning author whose works have appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine; The Rumpus.net; the Lenny Letter; and The Best Women’s Travel Writing, Volume 9. She is best known for her book, Queen Sugar, which writer/director Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey have adapted into a television series for Winfrey’s television network, OWN. The book was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, was listed on the Crooks Corner Southern Book Prize and was named one of the Best Books of 2014 by the San Francisco Chronicle.   Natalie has an M.A. in Afro-American Studies from UCLA and is a graduate of Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers.

    The conference will also include a grant writing panel, networking opportunities, an exhibit hall, and the Louisiana Living Legends Luncheon, which honors individuals who have made significant contributions to Southern University in the areas of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences.

    Limited complimentary registration for small farmers is available until February 28, 2020. After this date, the registration fee for the conference will be $75 for small farmers.   The fee for agricultural professionals is $100. All fees should be made payable to the Southern University Foundation – ANR Programs in the form of a check or money order.

    On-site registration will begin at 8 a.m. daily during the conference.  Agricultural exhibitors are welcome to participate.   To register online, visit http://www.suagcenter.com/form/smallfarms. Exhibitors can register at http://www.suagcenter.com/form/exhibitor-registration-for-the-10th-annual-louisiana-small-farmer-conference.  For additional information contact Zanetta Augustine at 225-771-2591 or via e-mail at zanetta_augustine@suagcenter.com.    ###   http://www.suagcenter.com/

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk

    Contributing Writer

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    Who to Watch: Myra Richardson

    Meet Myra Richardson, 21

    • Louisiana Legislative aide
    • Studies political science at Southern University and A&M College – Baton Rouge, LA
    • Baton Rouge Magnet High School graduate
    • At-large member, Democratic parish executive committee
    • Daughter of Jasmine Richardson
    • Currently reading “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson and other readings by bell hooks at Southern Cofe

    Myra Richardson is an observant, potent, and impactful civil servant who as been honored nationally by civic groups including the NAACP, Alabama NAACP, Birmingham City Council, and the Greater Baton Rouge United Way.

    She is a catalyst with a passion for representing and standing with marginalized voices. Her engagements have ranged from her leadership role as Louisiana’s Ambassador for the Women’s March on Washington to the creation of a local youth group–The Wave, and co-creation of Justice X. She has embodied progressivism by seeking to create a more equitable future for Louisiana.

    “Everything I do is service-based because I truly believe, ‘service to others is the rent we pay to live here on Earth”,’ she said. Richardson said she believes investing in the next generation is the greatest investment one can make. “Service is my personal mantra,” she said. Richardson said she will be vocal about the upcoming Census, elections, and economic development events statewide. Follow her on Facebook @MyraRichardson or Instagram @MoveswithMyra,

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    Southern University becomes the first HBCU to produce CBD products

    The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center along with its medical marijuana partner, Ilera Holistic Healthcare, has launched its hemp-derived CBD product line, Alafia Healthcare.

    “This is a historic milestone for the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center in that today, we have become the first HBCU, in partnership with Ilera Holistic Healthcare, to release CBD products to be sold to licensed pharmacies throughout the state of Louisiana,” said Orlando F. McMeans, Ph.D., Chancellor-Dean of the SU Ag Center and the College of Ag.

    The event was held at the New Orleans area H&W Drug Store Dispensary, one of the state’s nine marijuana licensed pharmacies. The over-the-counter CBD products will be sold in eight of Louisiana’s nine licensed pharmacies as well as to pharmacies throughout the nation.

    Alafia, which means ‘inner peace’ in the Yoruba language, is lab tested, pesticide-free and scientifically formulated. There are currently two formulated PURE CBD tinctures available: Isolate CBD with 500mg ($40) and 1,000mg ($80) and Full Spectrum CBD with 500mg ($40) and 1,000mg ($80).  Additional CBD products will be released soon.

    CBD was legalized for sale and distribution in all 50 states in the 2018 Farm Bill. Ilera’s products contain 0.3% or less of the THC component. This means users will not obtain a “high” from using the products.

    “This program aims at improving the quality of lives for the individuals served via the vehicles of education, research, and outreach, all of which are in line with the mission of the Southern University Ag Center,” said McMeans.

    The products are expected to be on the shelves of local and national retailers and distributors by the end of February 2020.

    ONLINE: www.alafiahealthcare.com.

    Alafia Healthcare is currently available at the following locations:

    H&W Drug Store
    1667 Tchoupitoulas Street
    New Orleans, LA 70130

    Capitol Wellness Solutions
    7491 Picardy Avenue
    Baton Rouge, LA 70809

    Green Leaf Dispensary
    6048 W. Park Avenue
    Houma, LA 70364

    The Apothecary Shoppe
    620 Guilbeau Road, Suite A
    Lafayette, LA 70506

    Medicis
    1727 Imperial Blvd., Building 4
    Lake Charles, LA 70605

    The Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy
    403 Bolton Avenue
    Alexandria, LA 71301

    Hope Pharmacy
    1410 Kings Highway, Suite A
    Shreveport, LA 71103

    Willow Pharmacy
    1519 Highway 22 West, Suite 5
    Madisonville, LA 70447

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Communications Coordinator

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    Junior League of Baton Rouge accepting applications for community grants through March 27

    The Junior League of Baton Rouge is now accepting grant applications for its Community Assistance Fund through Friday, March 27. Each year, the JLBR Community Assistance Fund provides at least $60,000 in grant funding to organizations serving the Baton Rouge community.

    “The Junior League of Baton Rouge is a group of women committed to improving our community and developing the potential of women,” said Namisha Patel-Vasanji, JLBR President. “These grants allow us to provide assistance to organizations with needs that align with our own vision of making lasting community change in the areas of health, education and cultural development.”

    The Community Assistance Fund assists non-profit agencies with a 501(c)(3) designation in East Baton Rouge Parish with specific, short-term monetary needs up to $2,500. Grant funding is awarded to organizations with projects that align with JLBR’s focus in health, education and cultural development.

    To submit an application and for detailed guidelines and instructions, visit www.juniorleaguebr.org/community/caf. If an organization does not apply for funding during this cycle, they can apply during the next cycle in fall of 2020. JLBR also offers a small number of trained “Ready Hands!” volunteers to support an organization by lending a hand at their community events.

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