LOGO
  • ,,

    Dr. Rani G. Whitfield announces run for EBR Coroner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Mayor Broome Announces Community Development Grant Awards

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

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

    This year, the following community organizations are receiving grants:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    John Warner Smith named Louisiana’s newest Poet Laureate

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: http://www.johnwarnersmith.com

    Read more »
  • ,,

    BR high schoolers get aviation experience, attend national conference

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

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

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

    DSC06838_edit

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    SU graduates 14 farmers from Ag Leadership Institute

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Blind DJ inspires BR, Shreveport music scene

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Submitted by Laurence Williams

    Read more »
  • ,,

    State responds to cyber attack on school system

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    SU Child Development Center set to hold an Enrollment Fair

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Awards ceremony honors top football recruits, Aug 1

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

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

    TJ Finley

    TJ Finley

    Joel Williams

    Joel Williams

    Jalen Lee

    Jalen Lee

    Jaquelin Roy

    Jaquelin Roy

     

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

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

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

    ONLINE:  tigerrag.com

     

    Photo credit: 247Sports

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Southern University plants first seeds in medical marijuana venture

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Broome echoed those sentiments.

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

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

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

    From cotton fields to NASA: Southern alum and professor recounts working on Apollo 11 mission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Jasmine D. Hunter
    Contributing Writer

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Teens earn Emergency Medical Responder Certification

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

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

    Photo (L-R): Danielle Duncan, UREC, Youth Program Coordinator; Adrianna Brown; LeahRuffin; Alexus Maiden; Dr. Latricia Greggs, Chair, Southern University School of Nursing BSN Program; Abria Scott; Bridget Calhoun; Aisha Smithand Kathryn Robinson, UREC, Youth Program Director.
    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Community honors historian, activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     

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


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

    The community shares their memories and tributes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph from The Drum archives

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph from The Drum archives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sadie Roberts Joseph. Photo by Jason Shi Roberts

    Sadie Roberts Joseph. Photo by Jason Shi Robert

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

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

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

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph

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

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

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

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

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph at mic

    Sadie Roberts-Joseph at mic

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

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

    READ MORE:

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,

    Baton Rouge NAACP leaders challenge parish’s plan of governement

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

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

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

    ONLINE: http://www.naacpbr.org

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

    Read more »
  • ,

    ‘I became a FarmHer by default’

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

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

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

    And he had.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Candace J Semien
    Jozef Syndicater reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

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

    Read more »
  • ,

    Ivory Toldson joins education commission

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

    Read more »
  • ,,,

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

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

    Mayor Broome releases a statement on Gov. Edwards veto

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

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

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

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

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

    Click here to read the governor’s veto letters.

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

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

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

    58019545_326126961404095_6792851757740326912_n

    Produce on the Fresh Cube

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

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

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

    The Transformer

    The Transformer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Bayou Soul Youth Literary Conference returns to BRCC, July 2

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

    toya2019

    Toya Wright

    c0aa7492cedce34a0a8f2099fcec06f4_400x400

    Lance Gross

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

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

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

    Schedule of Events

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

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

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

    3 p.m. to 4 p.m. –

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

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

    ONLINE: bswliteraryconference.com

    Read more »
  • ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    DrumRoll

    Read more »
  • ,,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: Blackoutloudbr.com

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

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

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

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

    first pic

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Mada McDonald
    Community Writer

    Photographs by Joseph London
    A Family Blessing

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

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

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

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

    New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno

    New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno

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

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

    State Rep. Ted James

    State Rep. Ted James

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

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

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,,,

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

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

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

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

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

    FACT SHEET
    WHAT:
    SWEET GEORGIA BROWN
    WHERE:
    LSU Shaver Theatre
    Louisiana State University
    Music and Dramatic Arts Building, #105
    Baton Rouge, LA 70802
    SCHEDULE:
    Thursday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m.
    Friday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m.
    Saturday, July 27 at 2:00 p.m.
    Saturday, July 27 at 7:30 p.m.
    Sunday, July 28 at 3:00 p.m.
    TICKET PRICES:
    Regular Admission | $30
    Kids and Students With Valid ID | $25
    Groups of 10 or More | $15 must purchase prior to performance day
    BOX OFFICE:
    225-588-7576 or www.nvtarts.org
    PG-13 Show (Recommended for Ages 14+)
    Show contains adult content and language. No one under the age of four will be allowed in the theatre and all children ages 4-13 must be accompanied by an adult.
    Call 225-588-7576 or visit www.nvtarts.org to purchase tickets or subscriptions.
    Read more »
  • ,,,

    ‘Not Charity Lord, but a Chance’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Condoleeza Semien along with YEA winners and VC

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: www.belugabliss.com

    READ MORE:

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

    Residents urged to prepare for 2019 hurricane season

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

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

    2019 Hurricane Preparedness Tips:

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,,

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

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

     

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

    May 29 is Louisiana Black Chamber Day at the Capitol

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

    Attendees will gain insight on the legislative process and can:

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

    ONLINE: https://brmbcc.org/

    Read more »
  • ,

    Will your child ride the bus next year?

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

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

    Take Survey

    Read more »
  • ,

    State Representative Barbara Norton to hold equal pay rally

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Christian Davenport named Baton Rouge’s first Poet Laureate

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Baton Rouge children need more Court Appointed Special Advocates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Upcoming orientation dates:

    12 p.m., Monday, May 13

    10 a.m., Saturday, May 18

    4 p.m., Monday, May 20

    3 p.m., Wednesday, May 22

    5 p.m., Tuesday, May 28

    9 a.m., Thursday, May 30

     

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

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Multiple sclerosis survivor named chief student marshal for spring commencement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Jasmine D. Hunter
    Special to The Drum

    Read more »
  • ,,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ABOUT CreActiv, LLC

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

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

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

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

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

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

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

    Shameka Williams

    Shameka Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        By Candace J. Semien
        Jozef Syndicate reporter
        @jozefsyndicate

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

        Read more »
  • ,,,

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

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

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

    Thursday, May 2, 2019

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

    Read more »
  • ,

    They Beat the Odds

    Sometimes life just doesn’t seem to be fair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    . Terry is a  real success story.

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

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

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

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

    By Kathryn Martin
    Contributing Writer

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Youth Summer Employment program kicks off April 13 in Baton Rouge

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    WHO:
    Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards,

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

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,

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

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

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

    Victor Mbarika

    Victor Mbarika

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

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

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

    ONLINE: Southern University

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Jinx Broussard wins national teacher of the year award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    More juvenile human trafficking victims identified in Louisiana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Victim Ages

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

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

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

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

    Trafficking Locations

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

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

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

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

    Other Findings

    Other findings in the 2019 report:

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

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

    View Reports

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

    Have you heard of Andreen Nicole McDonald of Texas?

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

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

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

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

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

    Deidra Robey, founder of Black and Missing But Not Forgotten

    Deidra Robey, founder of Black and Missing But Not Forgotten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Correspondent
    @StacyBrownMedia

    Read more »
  • ,

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

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

    One Blood Revival: The call to the Church at Large

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

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

    Devin O'Neal, of Voices of Mercy Outreach Ministries

    Devin O’Neal, of Voices of Mercy Outreach Ministries

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

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

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

    Wuan Millerl, youth pastor, Living Faith Christian Center

    Wuan Miller, youth pastor, Living Faith Christian Center

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

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

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

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Women in State Law Enforcement leave indelible footprints

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Girard Melancon picked to lead BRCC’s workforce solutions

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Kennedy Center Fellow audits 400 years of American Blackness in verse

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

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

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

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Women of Cancer Alley to show March 8 with RootsCampLA

     

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

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

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

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

    tickets are availble x for the entire RootsCampLA weekend

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Square Collection featured at West Baton Rouge Museum

    Graduates of Grambling State University, where they met, Lawrence and Gay Square started collecting art 40 years ago. Today, their private collection is on display at the West Baton Rouge Museum through March 24.

    The Square Collection features fine art from some of America’s most distinguished artists including 20 figurative sculptures by the internationally renowned sculptor Tina Allen.

    The Square’s Black art collection includes paintings and prints by acclaimed artists: Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Ed Dwight, Charles Bibb, John T. Scott, Charles Dickson, Jim Wider, and Manuelita Brown, as well as slave shackles, rare historical documents, autographed books and memorabilia from sports icons like Michael Jordan.  Whether created in the medium of oil, pen, Lucite or bronze, these carefully selected pieces beautifully portray strength, character, beauty, and the collectors’ love of history.

    When asked, “Why do you collect?” Lawrence Square’s answer is always, “I buy what I like.”

    The West Baton Rouge Museum is happy to share this exhibit in its first Louisiana public showing

     

    Feature photo by Lucie Monk Carter. Read more at Country Roads.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Meat for Sale at annual livestock show

    Nearly 100 young herdsmen from throughout the state will converge on the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena with hopes of having their prized winning animals named champion during the Southern University Ag Center’s 76th Annual Livestock and Poultry Show.

    The event, which will be held from February 28 – March 2, provides an opportunity for youth to showcase their hard work in raising and caring for various breeds of cattle, hogs, sheep, lamb, goats and poultry. Winners will receive premiums, ribbons, rosettes and trophy belt buckles.

    The Livestock Show Office is inviting local schools to come to the show on March 1 to participate in guided tours. The tour will include a mini petting zoo, hands-on plant, tobacco free living and nutrition exhibits.

    Pre-orders of non-processed choice meats from various livestock are currently being accept by the Livestock Show Office. All proceeds from meat sales go directly to participating youth as a reward for their hard work and financial investment. The following meat choices and quantities are available:

    One whole beef $2,000

    One half beef $1,000

    One-fourth beef $500

    One whole pork $225

    One whole lamb $200

    One whole goat is $175

    There is a processing fee that is not included in the original cost of the meat. All purchases must be paid by money order or check and made payable to the Southern University Ag Center Livestock Show, prior to being picked up from the slaughter house.

    Those who don’t pre-order their meat are invited to make a purchase during the show’s ‘Junior Auction Sale’ on Saturday, March 2 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena.

    The office will deliver the meat to either Cutrer’s Slaughter House in Kentwood (985) 229-2478 or Rouchers in Plaquemine (225) 687-4258.

    Donations to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank are also welcome.

    Since 1943, Southern University has continued the tradition of providing an opportunity for youth throughout the state to gain valuable knowledge and skills at the Annual State Livestock and Poultry Show. The Livestock Show provides a venue for youth to showcase their animals, develop entrepreneurship skills, build character and receive leadership training.

    For more information on the SU Ag Center’s Livestock Show, how to purchase meat or register a school for a guided tour, visit http://www.suagcenter.com/page/livestock-show-2019, call 225.771.6208 or email decobea_butler@suagcenter.com.

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

    ONLINE:  http://www.suagcenter.com/

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Researchers find community-wide programs make a difference in healthy behaviors

    Researchers from LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center have found that a community-level approach to obesity can inspire participants to adopt healthier weight-related behavior.  Their findings were published this fall in Health Promotion Practice, which includes peer-reviewed articles devoted to the practical application of health promotion and education.

    The results of the study are based on participants in 11 community-wide projects across the state funded by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation.  Through its Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana (“Challenge Grant”) project, the Foundation awarded more than $10 million in grants to local coalitions who implemented health-focused infrastructure improvements, policy changes, and programs like farmers markets, cooking classes and exercise classes.  Ultimately, Challenge Grant projects attracted more than $20 million in investments and included hundreds of partners.

    6 Health group exerciseAt the conclusion of Challenge Grant activities, there were indications for improvements in healthy eating and physical activity. Participants who were exposed to the program’s physical activity components were twice as likely to adopt the consumption of fruits, showed a more than two-fold increase in odds of consuming vegetables once per day, and showed a more than two-fold increase in the odds of engaging in physical activity and exercise outside of a regular job

    Participants who were exposed to the healthy eating component of the program were also almost twice as likely to report eating fruits and vegetables at least once per day.

    “The results of this study indicate that the Challenge Grant program resulted in positive changes in weight-related health behaviors among participants,” said study co-author Peter Katzmarzyk, PhD, FACSM, associate executive director for population and public health sciences at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

    “The results are consistent with the ‘small changes’ approach to obesity prevention.  In other words, small, positive changes in health-related behaviors are believed to be important in sustaining long-term health habits,” he said.

    The study’s co-authors stress the difficulty in controlling for factors that influence health outcomes in community program evaluation.  As a result, many other studies in this area have not produced measurable results, which makes the Challenge Grant evaluation stand apart.  Pennington researchers believe that the trends in behavioral changes observed in this study may yield significant results down the line.

    “As with many public health outcomes,” said study co-author Stephanie Broyles, PhD and associate professor of research at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, “the benefits of community-level efforts to reduce obesity may not be evident for many years.”

    The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation said the results of Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana have led it to continue funding similar efforts.

    “Based on this evidence, we are even more certain that communities working together to solve complex health problems stand the best chance of making systemic changes in health,” said Michael Tipton, president of the Blue Cross Foundation.

    The Foundation is currently accepting grant applications from community coalitions working to address public health issues and the upstream factors that cause them.  For those interested in submitting an application for the Foundation’s grantmaking program, Tipton encourages them to reach out to Foundation staff to begin a conversation.  Applications are accepted throughout the year, and it can take six to eight weeks to put together an application.

    Information about Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana, contact information for Foundation staff members, as well as information about the organization’s grant programs, can be found online at www.bcbslafoundation.org/CHL

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Supreme Court halts closure of abortion clinics in Louisiana

    On Feb. 7, the Supreme Court granted an emergency request from the Center for Reproductive Rights, blocking a law that would have shut down some of the last three abortion clinics in Louisiana . The law, which was set to take effect on February 8, would prohibit physicians from performing abortions unless they have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The justices voted 5-4 to grant the stay, with a dissenting opinion from Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

    An identical admitting privileges law in Texas was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2016 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights. In that case, the Supreme Court found that requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges “provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”

    “The Supreme Court has stepped in under the wire to protect the rights of Louisiana women,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The three clinics left in Louisiana can stay open while we ask the Supreme Court to hear our case. This should be an easy case—all that’s needed is a straightforward application of the court’s own precedent.”

    The Supreme Court’s stay comes after the Fifth Circuit upheld Louisiana’s admitting privileges law in a split 2-1 ruling last September. In January, the Fifth Circuit refused to rehear the case and also refused to put the law on hold while The Center petitioned for certiorari. In his dissent, Judge James Dennis warned that the Fifth Circuit’s decision to uphold the law would have “devastating effects on women’s rights to abortion”. He also noted that, “Women in poverty, who make up a high percentage of women seeking abortions in Louisiana, would be especially burdened by the closures, because any travel, child care, and required time off work would burden them disproportionately”.

    The law at issue, Act 620, would require any physician providing abortion services in Louisiana to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the procedure. There is no medical justification for this requirement, as abortion is extremely safe. In fact, the rate of major complications requiring hospitalization is about 2 in 1,000 women. Hospitals frequently deny admitting privileges to doctors who provide abortions for reasons ranging from ideological opposition to the fact that too few of their patients will ever need hospital care.

    The Center for Reproductive Rights originally filed this case in August, 2014.  Plaintiffs are a women’s health center, doctors and their patients. Julie Rikelman and Travis J. Tu are lead counsel for plaintiffs, along with local counsel Larry Samuel.

    Cases:  June Medical Services v. Gee

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Into the Fire: A.Z Young marches the people of Bogalusa to Baton Rouge

    During the turbulent years of Jim Crow a group of brave residents of Bogalusa made a historical march from Bogalusa to the courthouse in Franklinton to express their concern about the lack of opportunities for African Americans in Bogalusa. The march was led by A.Z. Young and others community leaders.

    Since the famous march from Bogalusa to Baton Rouge and Young’s death, little has been said or written about Young. On March 23, 2018 a Louisiana State Historical Marker was dedicated in front of Young home.

    Emma Dixon, president of the neighborhood homeowner’s association and head of the local AARP organized the event, said “the goal of this event is to educate our youth and give them more pride in the community.”

    Dixon also said, “I want this marker to inspire young people that they could do great thing with their life. Motivate them to achieve academic and economic success and be victorious over generational poverty.”

    “When you think of Bogalusa you think of A. Z. Young, the city was known across the nation for the civil rights struggle and its leadership” Dixon said.

    Marchers continuing toward Baton Rouge under the watchful eyes of State Troopers and Deacons for Defense.

    The late civil rights leader was remembered for his courage and is an active member of the civil rights movement in Bogalusa.

    On August 10, the Bogalusa Voter and Civil League (BVCL) continued their struggle when they embarked on a, 106-mile long march to the state capitol of Louisiana in Baton Rouge. Young planned to present a list of grievances to Governor John McKeithen on the steps of the capitol.

    The march dramatized the violent repression of Blacks in the areas along their route. The stretch of highways that the marchers traveled was home to the most active of Ku Klux Klan chapters in the state.

    Under pressure from the U.S. Civil Rights Division, Governor John McKeithen agreed to dispatch nearly 700 National Guardsman and 500 state troopers to protect the demonstrators as they walked down the center of Highway U.S. 190.

    When the marchers were met in Hammond by local community leaders they slept the night on Greenville Park High School football field.

    Just outside of Satsuma, a group of whites, some of them children, broke through the ranks of the troopers and attacked A.Z. Young and others. The march was postponed for one day because of the attack, which allowed Young to demand more troops to protect the weary marchers.

    web 4 March with sherrif

    Federalized National Guards and state troops were required to protect the marchers through Livingston Parish. They were confronted with violence in Satsuma and Denham Springs. The march was lead by A. Z. Young, Bob Hicks, and family members.

    Before more troops arrived, 50 more Blacks from Bogalusa and the surrounding area joined the march, bringing the total number to almost 80 marchers. Angry white onlookers threw eggs and bottles at the Blacks, while others spread roofing nails and broken glass in front of the march. The soldiers found dynamite under one of the bridges the marchers were going to cross, which was later identified as only a dummy.“

    When the marchers reached the outskirts of Baton Rouge, Governor McKeithen increased protection to a total of 1,500 National Guardsmen. Pouring rain kept most of the Klansman indoors. The tired and cold marchers took shelter in a wooded area.

    That evening allied civil rights demonstrators held a rally at the Capital Junior High School.    A youthful crowd of 400 sang freedom songs and rallied behind A.Z. Young and Lincoln Lynch as they addressed the crowd. That same night, the Klan held a rally in a nearby field, where they burned a 15-foot cross and the flag of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front (a political grouping the U.S. was fighting in South Vietnam).

    When the marchers reached reach the steps of the capital, more than 600 supporters. Eight robed members of the Ku Klux Klan and 300 more spectators followed the demonstrators up the steps. More than 2,200 National Guardsmen and policemen watched as both groups held separate rallies. There were no reports of violence.

    A.Z Young, Bogalusa civil rights leader

    A.Z Young, Bogalusa civil rights leader

    In his speech A.Z. Young voiced complaints about employment discrimination and called for the election of 10 Blacks running for local offices in Bogalusa.

    The marchers‘ direct route through Klan territory forced the federal government to ensure that they were protected, a major step forward for the civil rights movement. Young died in 1993.

     

     By Eddie Ponds and Alex Garcia

    Featured photo: The 1967 march from Bogalusa to the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. Marchers enter the City of Hammond. Leading the march  from left to right R. T. Young, Gal Jenkins, A.Z. Young, and Robert “Bob” Hicks.

    Editor’s note part of this article  includes exerpts of “From Bogalusa to Baton Rouge” by Alex Garcia

    Read more »
  • ,

    ‘You Can Aspire to Be…,’ a commissioned painting by nationally acclaimed artist Ted Ellis, to be unveiled at the Louisiana State Archives

    In recognition of the rich and colorful history of Blacks in Louisiana, a commissioned artwork by nationally acclaimed artist and Louisiana native Ted Ellis will be unveiled and dedicated at the Louisiana State Archives on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 11am
     
    Entitled “You Can Aspire to Be…,” the work recently traveled across the state to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month. Ellis presented copies to the African-American mayors of five of Louisiana’s largest cities. This tour was sponsored by Acadian Companies, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and Ochsner Health System.
    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
    Ellis has had a distinguished career in art. He has been commissioned by major corporations such as Walt Disney Studios, the Minute Maid Company, Coca-Cola, Phillip Morris and Avon, Inc. He was appointed in 2018 by the U.S. Department of the Interior to the 14‑member 400 Years of African-American History Commission, which plans programs throughout the United States to recognize 400 years of African-American contributions. The New Orleans-based Zulu Social and Pleasure Club recently named Ellis “artist of choice” for the poster representing its 2019 Zulu Mardi Gras parade.
    Photo captured from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MayorPresidentSharonWestonBroome
    Read more »
  • ,,

    SU Ag Center’s set to host 76th Annual Livestock Show

    Nearly 100 young farmers from throughout the state will converge on the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena with hopes of having their prized winning animals named champion during the Southern University Ag Center’s 76thAnnual Livestock and Poultry Show.

    The event, which will be held from February 28 – March 2, provides an opportunity for youth to showcase their hard work in raising and caring for various breeds of cattle, hogs, sheep, lamb, goats, and poultry. Winners will receive premiums, ribbons, rosettes and trophy belt buckles.

    The Livestock Show Office is inviting local schools to come to the show on March 1 to participate in guided tours. The tour will include a mini petting zoo, hands-on plant, tobacco-free living and nutrition exhibits.

    Pre-orders of non-processed choice meats from various livestock are currently being accepted by the Livestock Show Office. All proceeds from meat sales go directly to participating youth as a reward for their hard work and financial investment. The following meat choices and quantities are available:

    • One whole beef $2,000
    • One half beef $1,000
    • One-fourth beef $500
    • One whole pork $225
    • One whole lamb $200
    • One whole goat is $175

    There is a processing fee that is not included in the original cost of the meat. All purchases must be paid by money order or check and made payable to the Southern University Ag Center Livestock Show, prior to being picked up from the slaughterhouse.

    Those who don’t pre-order their meat are invited to make a purchase during the show’s ‘Junior Auction Sale’ on Saturday, March 2 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena.

    The office will deliver the meat to either Cutrer’s Slaughter House in Kentwood (985) 229-2478 or Rouchers in Plaquemine (225) 687-4258.

    Donations to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank are also welcome.

    Since 1943, Southern University has continued the tradition of providing an opportunity for youth throughout the state to gain valuable knowledge and skills at the Annual State Livestock and Poultry Show. The Livestock Show provides a venue for youth to showcase their animals, develop entrepreneurship skills, build character and receive leadership training.

    For more information on the SU Ag Center’s Livestock Show, how to purchase meat or register a school for a guided tour, visithttp://www.suagcenter.com/page/livestock-show-2019, call 225.771.6208 or email decobea_butler@suagcenter.com.

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Darryl Johnson opens The Garden Cafe at Goodwood Library

    Darryl Johnson, owner of SYI Food Services, has opened The Garden Cafe at Independence Community Park. The cafe is located directly across from the Goodwood Main Library in Baton Rouge near the botanic gardens and serves hot and cold coffee drinks, smoothies, breakfast dishes, salads, soup, sandwiches, and desserts. Johnson also operates a food truck and catering service, as well as provides concessions at BREC’s Memorial and Olympia Stadiums. Formerly known as Socially Yours, SYI’s food truck provided the refreshments for the opening of the expansion of the botanic gardens in 2018 as his company had begun customizing the café’ space.

     

    Read more »
  • ,

    Pick a topic for Black history Month. Find it in the Louisiana Digital Media Archive

    During the month of February, the Louisiana Digital Media Archive is highlighting Black History Month.  Explore videos about Louisiana history during the periods of slavery, segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement. Also, be sure to check out the complete Black History Month topic to see more stories and interviews with Black Louisianans who have made significant contributions to the state.

    Solomon Northrup & 12 Years a Slave (1853)

    Learn more about the story of Solomon Northup and the publication of his memoir, 12 Years a Slave, which details his life as a slave in Louisiana.

    Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

    In this clip from Louisiana: A History, take a look at the impact of the Emancipation Proclamation on slaves and free people of color in Louisiana during the Civil War.

    Louisiana Native Guards at Port Hudson (1863)

    In this clip from Louisiana: A History, learn more about the Louisiana Native Guards, the first officially sanctioned African Americans sworn into the United States Army during the Civil War.

    Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

    In this clip from Louisiana: A History, learn more about the origins of this landmark Supreme Court case in New Orleans and its role in upholding segregationist laws through the doctrine of “separate but equal.”

    Rosenwald Schools

    Learn more about the history of the Rosenwald Schools, which were built to educate African Americans during segregation, and the donation of one of the schools to the River Road African American Museum in Donaldsonville.

    Louisiana’s First Black Nurses

    See the story of these pioneering Black nurses, who worked at the Four South unit of Baton Rouge General Hospital, the only hospital unit available to black nurses and patients during the 1950s.

    Baton Rouge’s Troubled Waters

    View this 2008 LPB documentary which explores the close ties of the African-American community in Baton Rouge and the challenges they faced during segregation.

    Baton Rouge Bus Boycott (1953)

    Watch the 2004 LPB documentary, Signpost to Freedom, which chronicles the circumstances and events that led to the nation’s first large-scale bus boycott protesting segregation.

    Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

    View the 1983 LPB documentary, With All Deliberate Speed, which examines the 30-year history of school desegregation efforts in Louisiana following this landmark Supreme Court decision.

    Baton Rouge Sit-Ins (1960) 

    See a story on the Southern University students who participated in the sit-ins at the Kress Department Store, Sitman’s Drug Store, and the Greyhound Bus Station in Baton Rouge in 1960.

    Integration of the New Orleans Public Schools (1960)

    Watch an interview with Ruby Bridges recounting the day she integrated William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans under the guard of federal marshals.

    Plaquemine Civil Rights Demonstration (1963)

    See the story of a Civil Rights demonstration on September 1, 1963, in Plaquemine (three days after the March on Washington) that turned violent when state troopers stormed the old Plymouth Rock Baptist Church on horseback with the aid of teargas to look for James Farmer, the founder of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

    Bogalusa Civil Rights March (1967)

    View several reports on the 105-mile march from Bogalusa to Baton Rouge, which was organized by civil rights activist A.Z. Young.

    To see more stories, check out the complete Black History Month topic.

    The Louisiana Digital Media Archive (LDMA) is the online home of the Louisiana Public Broadcasting Digital Collection and the Louisiana State Archives Multimedia Collection. This is the first project in the nation to combine the media collections of a public broadcaster and a state archives.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Attorneys to be recognized, Jena 6 activist to speak at Feb 21 event

    During the month of February, our Nation formally celebrates the many contributions African Americans have made to our country and heritage.

    On Thursday, February 21, at 6:30 in the BREC Independence Park Theatre, Councilwoman Erika L. Green in partnership with BREC will host “Present Day History: Channeling the Past, Changing the Narrative”.

    The goal of the program is to curate an artistic expression by celebrating moments of Black history inspired by our city, Baton Rouge. We will also be honoring four attorneys for their work in civil rights and discrimination cases with the “Narrative Changers Leadership Award”. This event is free and open to the public.

    Read more »
  • Natasha Williams joins LPB

    Natasha Williams joins Louisiana Public Broadcasting as co-anchor and reporter, pairing up with managing editor and co-anchor Andre’ Moreau on LPB’s weekly program Louisiana: The State We’re In, the state’s longest-running statewide news magazine program. Williams is a veteran News Anchor, having spent nearly 20 years as Anchor and Investigative Reporter at the #1 CBS affiliate in the country, WHIO-TV.

    “We are delighted that Natasha has joined Louisiana: The State We’re In, she will bring her journalistic expertise to LPB, informing the citizens of our state on the news and events that connect us all,” said LPB CEO Beth Courtney.

    Williams began her broadcast career as Anchor/Reporter at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, also holding the same positions at WTVO-TV in Rockford, Illinois, WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, Ohio and WRGT-TV/WKEF-TV, the FOX/ABC affiliate in Dayton. She was named Journalist of the Year by Public Children Services Association of Ohio in 2009, and was awarded for best broadcast writing by the Ohio Associated Press in 2008. Williams was also honored by the Associated Press for a homelessness investigation, which led to policy changes in the city of Dayton that same year. She has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists and won an Emmy Award for her coverage of the 2001 Xenia Tornado.

    Williams earned an undergraduate degree from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina and a Master’s degree from Ohio State University. Williams received an honorary PhD from Wilberforce University in May of 2008, for her commitment to area youth and charitable causes in Southwest Ohio.

    She comes to LPB from KTVE/KARD in Monroe, LA where she was most recently an evening anchor for the NBC Affiliate.

    Louisiana: The State We’re In airs on Fridays at 7PM and encores Sundays at 4:30PM on LPB’s network of channels that include stations in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport. It also airs on LPB’s sister station WLAE-TV32 in New Orleans on Fridays at 7PM.  This award-winning weekly program combines in-depth coverage about the important issues throughout the state along with expert analysis.

     

    Read more »
  • Weekend Retreat ‘Connecting Race, Love, and Liberation’ brings Black Buddhist author to Baton Rouge’s Red Shoes

    Connecting Race, Love, and Liberation
    March 30 -31, 2019
    The Red Shoes invites the public to a weekend of learning with its scholar in residence, Rev angel Kyodo williams. Mystic meets Warrior in this dynamic leader who says, “Within the idea of compassion lies a shared journey we must all make that transcends faith and tradition: the practice of being human.”
    williams is an African-American Buddhist and author of Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace and co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love & Liberation.
    Through the retreat, williams will guide participants to personally and collectively reckon with the pain and separation passed down by our nation’s legacy of racial injustice, white supremacy, and their interlocking oppression — an inheritance which manifests in our communities, policies, and families.
    Come together for an inspiring weekend:
    • Learn how to connect in authentic and inclusive ways.
    • Embody a method for building internal growth.
    • Unearth myths that deny history, social conditioning and their impact.
    • Gain insight into how race maintains other forms of oppression.
    Register online at https://www.theredshoes.org/programs/rev-angel-kyodo-williams/
    ONLINE: TheRedShoes.org
    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Kelvin Hill hired to oversee public works

    Mayor Sharon Weston Broome has hired Kelvin J. Hill to fill the newly created assistant chief administrative officer position overseeing all six city-parish public works departments, beginning Feb. 4.

    Hill, the former vice president of operations at Georgia Pacific in Port Hudson, will be charged with supervising the departments of building and grounds, development, environmental services, fleet management, maintenance, and transportation and drainage.

    “The addition of Mr. Hill to my administration bolsters our capacity to ship high-high quality providers to the citizens of East Baton Rouge Parish,” stated Broome in a news release. “He brings a wealth of experience to our public works departments, which are the spine of City-Parish government.”

    Hill served as the vice president of operations at Georgia-Pacific and has more than 20 years of operations and management expertise.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    HERITAGE presents annual Festival of Negro Spirituals at The Church Baton Rouge

    HERITAGE, a non-profit professional choral ensemble, will host its 28thAnnual Festival of Negro Spirituals, Saturday, February 2, at The Church Baton Rouge – 2037 Quail Dr. – Baton Rouge, at 3pm. The event, which HERITAGE has hosted since 1991, will feature performances of spirituals by HERITAGE and several outstanding high school, community and university ensembles. Admission to the Festival is free.

    Clarence Jones, the founder and director said, “HERITAGE has been sharing its love of the Negro spiritual with the world for more than three decades. We always look forward to the festival and sharing our love of the spiritual with all the great choirs that participate. The Negro Spiritual has a rich legacy that we must pass on to future generations.”

    Other choral ensembles scheduled to perform at the 2019 HERITAGE Festival of Negro Spirituals include:

    • Southern University Concert Choir -Baton Rouge
    • Acadiana Ecumenical Choir – Lafayette
    • The Bennie L. Williams Spiritual Voices – Denver
    • Grambling State University Choir – Grambling
    • McKinley High School Chamber Choir – Baton Rouge
    • New Dimensions Choral Society- Shreveport

    HERITAGE is committed to educate, elevate and enhance the cultural level and appreciation for the Negro Spiritual. Spirituals grew out of the earliest musical expressions of enslaved Africans in the farmlands of Colonial America.

    Located in Baton Rouge, HERITAGE’s mission is to perpetuate the “Negro Spiritual” as a distinctive art form, as an expression of the Negro ancestors’ struggles and aspirations; to preserve the legacy of the Negro Spiritual in its original medium and foster its influence for all people of the community. HERITAGE strives to maintain a standard of professional excellence and to sponsor and support other worthwhile cultural activities.HERITAGE is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. Since 1976, HERITAGE has lent its talents to many civic and charitable causes in and around Baton Rouge and has performed to critical acclaim and thunderous ovations and applause in some of the finest and most prestigious concert halls at home and abroad.

    The ensemble has presented concerts throughout Louisiana as well as Mexico City, Mexico, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Nashville, Memphis, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Atlanta, Paris, and London. In Rome, HERITAGE was received in an audience with Pope John Paul II. Recent performances have included Hampton, VA, Los Angeles, CA, West Palm Beach, FL., Saginaw, MI, Huntsville, AL, Denver, CO and the 2018 Performing Arts Discovery/American Sounds program in Orlando, FL.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance holds inaugural meeting at the SU Ag Center

    The Southern University Land-Grant Campus hosted the inaugural meeting of the Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance (LIHA) on Monday, January 14.

    The meeting, which was held in Fisher Hall on Southern University’s Campus, was convened to address new legislation regarding Industrial Hemp.

    “Industrial Hemp has been around for millennia,” said Arthur Walker, Chair of the LIHA. “It is a grain in the family of Cannabis Sativa L. The difference between it and other versions of the cannabis plant is in the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels. It has a level of .3% and below. Marijuana, its cousin, has THC levels of 5 and above,” he said.

    THC is the psychotropic component of the plant that can cause individuals to experience a “high.” Making it virtually impossible to get high from the Industrial Hemp plant.

    However, it was still classified as a schedule I drug, along with marijuana, by the Nixon administration in the ’70s. Making it illegal to be grown in the United States, but, the purchase of imported raw materials to manufacture products from the plant was legal.

    Many of these products include clothes, soap, fiberboard and insulation.

    “For a number of years the US has spent morethan $150 million per year on importing Industrial Hemp products just from China alone,” said Joe Lavigne, LIHA member. “We feel that Louisiana is the perfect safe space to take a fraction of that market and really drive the Industrial Hemp economy.”

    “The small farmers and the small business owners of Louisiana need that infusion of opportunity,” said Walker.

    The 2018 Farm Bill officially removed Industrial Hemp from the schedule I classification. Industrial Hemp is now classified as a commercial commodity like corn, sugarcane, and rice.

    “Now farmers can get crop insurance and receive financing opportunities from the federal government to start growing Industrial Hemp,” said Walker. “The whole commodity designation and moving Industrial Hemp from the Department of Justice, where it was a schedule I drug, to the control of the Department of Agriculture is a game changer.” 

    As of the end of December 2018, 40 states had passed legislation that allowed their farmers and business owners to get involved with Industrial Hemp. Louisiana is among the last 10 states to have no legislation for the commodity.

    “With the passage of the Farm Bill, those 40 states that have passed legislation are now ready to go to commercialization, as long as their laws are modified to fit under the federal umbrella,” said Walker. “Louisiana has to have something established from ground zero.”

    The Alliance hopes to influence legislation in the state of Louisiana to allow the state’s small farmers and business owners to involve themselves in the commercial end of Industrial Hemp.

    If legislation is passed, the Southern University Land-Grant Campus plans to assist small farmers in the propagation of the crop.

    “Part of the Southern University Land-Grant Campus’s mission is to work with small, limited resource farmers throughout the state. We will assist the LIHA in helping to teach small farmers how to grow, cultivate and prepare this commodity as a value-added crop that can be exported throughout the world,” said Bobby R. Phills, Ph.D., Chancellor-Dean of the Southern University Land-Grant Campus. “It is our hope that this crop will enable small farmers to remain on their farms and be able to earn a decent living by growing Industrial Hemp.”

    The Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance’s mission is to aid in the acceptance of the free marketing of Industrial Hemp as an agricultural crop in Louisiana. The organization is dedicated to a free market of Industrial Hemp, Low-THC varieties of Cannabis, and to change current laws to allow Louisiana farmers to grow this crop and Louisiana processors to process this crop on a commercial scale.

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

    For additional information about the Louisiana Industrial Hemp Alliance, contact Arthur Walker at artw@communicationsone.com.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Kenneth Sanders elected Justice of the Peace

    Southern University alumn Kenneth Sanders has been elected Democratic judge of the Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Courts in Arlington, TX.  Sanders is part of a historic number of new Black justices of the peace in Texas. The Fort Worth native defeated the incumbent in the general election on Nov. 8, 2018.

    See his swearing in here: https://youtu.be/xS7ak9Fm-GQ

    Read more »
  • Meetings held for public input on zoo, park master plan

    BREC officials have begun master planning processes for the Baton Rouge Zoo and Greenwood Community Park. Two nationally-acclaimed design consultants have been selected through a competitive bid process and kickoff meetings were held late last year, allowing the consultants to gain a better understanding of the sites and scope of the projects. The team is eager to hear what the surrounding communities have to say about these public amenities.

    A pair of open-house style public meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, January 29th, where the consultants will introduce themselves to you, share preliminary findings, and invite you to share your ideas and suggestions for these projects. The two meetings are:

    11 am – 1 pm Tuesday, January 29 at the Baton Rouge Garden Club in Independence Park Botanical Garden
    7950 Independence Blvd., Baton Rouge

    6 – 8 pm Tuesday, January 29 at The Waterfront Theater in Greenwood Community Park
    13350 LA Hwy. 19, Baker

    A web page within brec.org is being developed for these projects to provide more information and online engagement tools. We anticipate launching that next week, so watch your email for a notification and graphic-rich promotional materials.

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Life In Living Color! New Venture Theatre welcomes Season 12

    “Since its launch in 2008, New Venture Theatre has premiered more than 60 shows bringing fresh voices to our arts community. We have hired, nurtured and developed more than 800 artists of color. “We have pressed our audiences to confront difficult issues and lead them with compassion towards transformational dialogue. We have raised our voices in harmony to joyfully lift the human spirit. We did more than build a theatre, we made a home for a hungry arts community. And we’re not done yet—twelve years is just the beginning,” said director Greg Williams Jr.
    Now the community theatre group welcomes season twelve with the following productions.
    CROWNS
    A GOSPEL MUSICAL
    By Regina Taylor, adapted from the book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry
    February 14-17
    LSU Studio Theatre | $30
    Crowns is a moving and celebratory exploration of history and identity as seen through the eyes of Yolanda, a young African-American woman who comes down South after her brother is killed, and is introduced to her grandmother’s circle of hat queens. Each hat holds the story of one of life’s joys or struggles, as Yolanda comes to realize that these hats aren’t just fashion statements, but testimonies of sisterhood—they are hard-earned Crowns.
    JAMBO! TALES FROM AFRICA
    THEATRE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES!
    BOOK BY ALVIN A TEMPLE
    February 22
    Southern University Hayden Hall Theatre | $15
    “Jambo, human beings!” Take a trip to Africa, where Lion, Monkey, Elephant and their larger-than-life animal friends share three stories of people and animals who find themselves in sticky situations and use their clever minds to escape. Brimming with African folklore, storytelling, and music, each tale is taken directly from the stories passed down through the folklore of many nations and cultures—including East Africa, Kenya, and the Kalahari Bushmen—and offers important lessons for children of all ages.
    FETCH CLAY, MAKE MAN
    By WILL POWER
    March 29-31
    LSU Studio Theatre | $20
    Contains some adult content/themes. Recommended for ages 13 and up.
    In the days leading up to one of the most anticipated fights for Cassius Clay—soon to become Muhammad Ali—the heavyweight boxing champion forms an unlikely friendship with controversial Hollywood star Stepin Fetchit. With a rhythmic script, the play explores the bond that forms between two drastically different and influential cultural icons trying to shape their legacies amidst the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-1960s and examines the true meaning of strength, resilience, and pride.
    THE COOKOUT
    A DANCE MUSICAL
    April 5-7
    Southern University Hayden Hall Theatre | $20
    You’ll be dancing in the streets with this new dance musical! It’s time to bring multiple generations of the family together for one big outdoor dance party. And let’s face it: At least half the fun of meeting up is having the young folks teach you the latest moves while the older relatives show how they used to get down back in the day! The Cookout is a dance musical that features all of your favorite songs to groove to. They transcend time and inspire you up off that picnic bench after a day of grilling and dining.
    DISNEY’S ALADDIN JR.
    THEATRE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES!
    Music by ALAN MENKEN
    Lyrics by HOWARD ASHMAN, TIM RICE, and CHAD BEGUELIN
    Book by CHAD BEGUELIN
    Based on the Disney film written by RON CLEMENTS, JOHN MUSKER, TED ELLIOTT & TERRY ROSSIO
    June 21- 23
    LSU Shaver Theatre | $20 for Adults and $15 for Kids
    Disney’s Aladdin Jr. is based on the 1992 Academy Award-winning film and 2014 hit Broadway show about the “diamond in the rough” street rat who learns that his true worth lies deep within.
    SWEET GEORGIA BROWN
    By GREG WILLIAMS, JR.
    Music by VARIOUS ARTISTS
    July 25-28
    LSU Shaver Theatre | $30
    This new musical is chock-full of sweet blues songs of the ’60s and ’70s, like “I Put a Spell on You,” “Let the Good Times Roll” and “Down Home Blues.” The diva herself, Georgia, has thoroughly burned her bridges in the music industry, including physically assaulting Etta James, cursing out Dr. Martin Luther King, and stealing the Tree of Hope from the Apollo Theatre. Determined to get back on top, Georgia takes up singing in a hole-in-the-wall club, ready to do whatever it takes to be number one again.
    PIPELINE
    By DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU
    August 9-11
    LSU Studio Theatre | $20
    Contains adult language, content and themes. Recommended for ages 16 and up.
    The play’s title refers to the “school-to-prison pipeline,” and within it, inner-city public high school teacher Nya is committed to her students but desperate to give her only son Omari opportunities they’ll never have. When a controversial incident at his private school threatens to get him expelled, Nya must confront his rage and her own choices as a parent. But will she be able to reach him before a world beyond her control pulls him away? Don’t miss this deeply moving story of a mother’s fight to give her son a future—without turning her back on the community that made him who he is.
    HAIRSPRAY JR. 
    THEATRE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES!
    Book by THOMAS MEEHAM and MARK O’DONNELL
    Music by MARC SHAIMAN
    Lyrics by MARC SHAIMAN and SCOTT WITTMAN
    Based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by JOHN WATERS
    Date: Fall 2019 (to be announced May 1, 2019)
    LSU Shaver Theatre | $20 for Adults and $15 for Kids
    It’s 1962, and spunky, plus-size teen, Tracy Turnblad, has one big dream—to dance on the popular “Corny Collins Show.” When she finally gets her shot, she’s transformed from social outcast to sudden star. In balancing her newfound fame with her desire for justice, Tracy fights to dethrone the reigning Miss Teen Hairspray, Amber von Tussle, and integrate a TV network in the process. With the help of her outsized mom, Edna, and guest DJ, Motormouth Maybelle, the rhythm of Tracy’s new beat just might prove
    ONE NIGHT ONLY 
    A FUNDRAISER FOR NEW VENTURE THEATRE
    SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2019
    SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY HAYDEN HALL THEATRE
    BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND…
    POLKADOTS
    THE COOL KIDS MUSICAL
    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2019
    SEASON 12
    NEW V AWARDS 
    DECEMBER 7, 2019
    SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY HAYDEN HALL THEATRE
    BOX OFFICE:
    225-588-7576 or www.nvtarts.org
    Read more »
  • ,,

    EBR Councilwoman to host second meeting on acquiring adjudicated property

    East Baton Rouge Councilwoman Chauna Banks is hosting a second series pathways to acquire property in East Baton Rouge Parish. The event is free and open to the public. The meeting will include details on getting title insurance and paying the outstanding taxes.
    The second session will be held on Thursday, February 28, 2019, 5:30 p.m., Louisiana Leadership Institute, 5763 Hooper Road, Baton Rouge, LA  70811
    The goal is to help bring new life to blighted, abandoned or tax-foreclosed properties.  Agency representatives will present five unconventional pathways to acquire these properties.   Both residential and commercial investors will learn how to purchase tax-delinquent assets by attending these informational.
    A list of invited agencies and programs:
    • East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office “sheriff sale”, a public auction of property repossessed to satisfy an unpaid obligation.
    Parish Attorney’s Office, which handles the sale of adjudicated properties through public bids and donations.
    Civic Source, a company partnered with the City-Parish to offer an online process for the sale of adjudicated property in excess of 5 years.
    Mow to Own Program,  allows certain parties to avoid the public bidding and receive a preference in making an offer to purchase adjudicated properties  in excess of 3 years;
    East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority has the ability to acquire and quickly clear title to tax sale and adjudicated properties.
    For more information, contact the District 2 Office at (225) 389-8331 or email cbanks@brla.gov.
    Read more »
  • ,,,

    ‘Carrying on the Dream’ exhibit brings MLK hearse to Baton Rouge, Jan 15.

    The Capitol Park Museum announces a preview of a new exhibit, “Carrying on the Dream” which features a rare display of the hearse that carried prominent civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s body, at the time of his death more than 50 years ago. The public is invited to preview the exhibit at a kickoff event at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 – the actual birthday of the iconic civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The event will also include a special screening of the documentary “I am MLK Jr.” which celebrates the life and explores the character of the American icon.

    Planned in conjunction with The Walls Project, the museum event kicks off the organization’s The MLK Festival of Service – a four-day service event January 18-21 that involves more than 150 local organizations and businesses.

    On Tuesday, doors open at the event at 5:30 p.m. The documentary screening will begin at 6:15 pm. Light refreshments will be provided. The Hearse exhibit preview begins Tuesday at 5:30pm and includes counter stools from the Kress store that were used during the 1960 Civil Rights protest in downtown Baton Rouge. The stools are on loan from Preserve Louisiana.

    Todd Graves, founder and CEO of Raising Cane’s, led the preservation of hearse and through its exhibit at Capital Park Museum wants to remind young people what Martin Luther King, Jr contributed to society. “It’s important that the next generation really understands how the contributions of Martin Luther King Jr. changed the world,” said Graves. “Many of us did not get a chance to hear MLK during his lifetime, so I am hoping they will be able to appreciate him and his work through this tribute to honor his life.”

    “We are excited to kick off MLK Fest with this event. We hope the exhibit and documentary will encourage even more people to come out this weekend and show their support,” said Helena Williams of The Walls Project.

    “This is an opportunity for people to view Dr. King’s hearse as it is such an important piece of history compelling us to contemplate the lasting significance of the civil rights movement,” said Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser. “The hearse will serve as the centerpiece of a tribute to the struggles of the civil rights movement here in Baton Rouge where the early stages of that time in our nation’s history got its start.”

    Tuesday’s event is free and open to the public.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Southern University System Board installs new chair, members

    The Southern University System Board of Supervisors today convened for its first meeting of the new year at Southern University Baton Rouge. Atty. Domoine D. Rutledge and the Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert Jr. were installed as the new chair and vice chair, respectively.

    “We have been entrusted with a tremendous responsibility by way of Southern and I approach it with a seriousness of purpose that it warrants,” Rutledge said.

    The two-time Southern alumnus said he had three major objectives for himself and his fellow board members of the system of five campuses — Southern University Baton Rouge, Southern University New Orleans, Southern University Shreveport, Southern University Law Center and Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

    “…Increased attention and focus to enrollment management,” he said. “Students are the lifeblood of this university. We have to ensure that they have a quality experience academically and otherwise. We must also focus on the alignment of the academic inventory with workforce demands. It is one thing to have a degree but another to have a job. We must ensure our students have marketable skills to compete in a global marketplace.

    “And finally, we cannot ignore how a disinvestment in education — particularly higher education — forces us to create new revenue streams through public and private partnerships and other means that will bear tremendous fruit for this institution for years to come.”

    Also installed to the 16-member board were Raymond Fondel and Leon R. Tarver II — both reappointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards. New appointees, Sam Albert Gilliam and Arlanda Williams, were installed as well.

    Gilliam is a former member of the Board (2000-2006) and most recently served as interim chancellor at Southern University Shreveport. Williams represents Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District and is vice chancellor for workforce development and institutional advancement at Delgado Community College. CrBOekRI

    The Board and others presented tokens of appreciation to Ann A. Smith, outgoing chair, and the Rev. Donald R. Henry, outgoing vice chair, as well as immediate past members Michael Small and the Rev. Joe R. Gant. The Board’s “Above and Beyond” award for Southern University System exemplary employee service went to Patricia Coleman, a payroll accountant at Southern University Baton Rouge.

    Other meeting highlights included more information on the rollout of Southern University System President Ray L. Belton’s working strategic plan for the system; reports from campus chancellors and other administrators; and infrastructure update. The board is scheduled to meet again on Feb. 22 on the campus of Southern University Shreveport.

    Read more »
  • ,

    ‘A Lucky Man’ wins Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

    Jamel Brinkley’s  collection of nine short stories has won the 2018 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Set in Brooklyn and the South Bronx where the writer spent his youth before graduating from Columbia University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the stories in A Lucky Man explore the charged, complex ties between boys and men who make mistakes that threaten their relationships with friends, lovers, and family members.

    The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence honors Louisiana storyteller, Ernest J. Gaines, and serves to inspire and recognize rising African-American fiction writers of excellence at a national level. The annual award of a $10,000 cash prize is to support the writer and help enable them to focus on the art of writing.

    Ernest Gaines

    A Lucky Man is “intent on recognizing what masculinity looks like, questioning our expectations of it, and criticizing its toxicity — and somehow managing to do all of that with love,” wrote Ilana Masad of National Public Radio.

    Brinkley examines the way men excuse their own attempts at ownership of the world around them. His book “deals in family relationships, love, aging, loss, and disappointment — the universal themes that keep us coming back to literature — while also conveying versions of Black male experience,” Masad wrote.

    In one story, an imaginative young boy from the Bronx goes swimming with his day camp group at a suburban backyard pool and faces the effects of power and privilege. In another, college boys on the prowl follow two girls home from a party and have to own up to the uncomfortable truth of their desires.

    “Brinkley offers visions of manhood and masculinity that demonstrate candor without false intensity, desire without ownership. His male characters have fictional experiences that, in the hands of the right reader, can become equipment for living,” the Los Angeles Review of Books wrote.

    The book award, initiated by donors of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, is now in its 12th year and has become nationally recognized in its role of enhancing visibility of emerging African-American fiction writers while also expanding the audience for this literature.

    Brinkley will be honored January 24, 2019, in Baton Rouge.

    ONLINE: http://www.ernestjgainesaward.org

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Habitat for Humanity Opens 2019 Application

    Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge is now accepting applications for the homeownership program through February 28, 2019. Applications can be accessed online at habitatbrla.org or in person at either of their two ReStore locations or at the local Habitat office, located at 6554 Florida Blvd., Suite 200 in Baton Rouge.

    Those seeking more information will be directed to additional information, including the application process, requirements for the program and income requirements (with minimum and maximum income based on family size needed to qualify).

    Habitat for Humanity works with each prospective homeowner partner through their 255 required “sweat equity” hours and their path to an affordable mortgage. Families/individuals are selected based on need, ability to pay a monthly mortgage, willingness to partner and Louisiana residency.

    Applications can be submitted in person Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. until Thursday, Feb. 28. No late applications will be accepted. For information, call 225-927-6651.

    ONLINE:  habitatbrla.org

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Become a local expert and news source

    Are you an expert on topics and issues critical to our city?

    Can you be a source of insight on issues like community development, politics, education, social/criminal justice, economics/finances? What about religion, relationships/sex, or alternative health? Are you a scholar or connoisseur of music, movies, or food? Do you have great understanding of housing, construction, real estate? Are you a historian of sports, a city historian, or a collector of artifacts? 

    Complete this form

    We’d love to interview you in 2019!

    Read more »
  • ,

    Courtney M. Scott named chief service officer

    Courtney M. Scott has been named chief service officer for Mayor-President Sharon Broome. Scott has over 15 years of multi-faceted experience in project management, community engagement, and communications. She has deep relationships with Baton Rouge’s arts, cultural, non-profit, academic as well as business and civic communities. Her passion and commitment to the city are unparalleled.

    Scott earned both a bachelor and master’s degree in Mass Communication from Southern University and is a graduate of Baton Rouge Magnet High School.

    As Chief service officer Scott will support the development of strategic city initiatives focused on increasing volunteerism, community engagement, and new partnerships with businesses and philanthropic leaders. Upcoming initiatives that fall under the chief service officer include Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program and Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council.

    “Service has shaped my character and success, and I am honored and humbled to serve the Baton Rouge community in this role,” said Scott. “My goal is to create a collaborative experience for residents by developing action-oriented plans that deliver concrete results and continuously improve quality of life while furthering progress in our community.”

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Free library programs scheduled for all ages January

    The following special East Baton Rouge Parish Library programs will be held for all ages throughout January 2019. For more information about or to register for all the programs listed, call the branch where the event is scheduled directly or visit www.ebrpl.com. Can’t visit any of our 14 locations, which are open seven days a week? The Library is open 24 / 7 online at www.ebrpl.com.

    The Library’s Featured Events, www.ebrpl.com (225) 231-3750
    Library Closures in Observance of January Holidays
    All locations of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library will close early at 6 p.m. Monday, December 31, and all day Tuesday, January 1, 2019, in observance of New Year’s Day. The Library also will be closed Monday, January 21, 2019, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For more information about these holiday closures, call (225) 231-3750. Check out the Digital Library 24 / 7 online at www.ebrpl.com/DigitalLibrary.

    Join the Job Club Networking Group!
    The Career Center of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is sponsoring an ongoing search and networking group for adult job seekers in professional careers. Job searching can be a lonely and discouraging activity, and this group will provide you with a safe space to meet and network with likeminded professionals who are challenged by the same job hunting process. Attendees will share job search experiences, network tips and encouragement, and they’ll learn the latest job search techniques and so much more. Patrons are welcome to join us at the Main Library at Goodwood from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Friday in January. It’s FREE and open to those in professional careers who are seeking employment. Certified Career Coach Anne Nowak will lead the meetings, and topics discussed will differ each week. For more information, call 225-231-3733. To register, go online to https://www.careercenterbr.com/events/.

    *Get a Jump on Success, Take the ACT Practice Test!
    Your Library will offer a FREE American College Testing (ACT) practice exam at two locations this month! Teens can come to the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, January 5, and the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 26, to take the practice test. Spots are limited to 25 students per location, so you must register. Please note that preference will be given to teens who are currently enrolled in high school, and middle school students who wish to take the test will be permitted to do so only if there are still spots available the Monday before the test date. The paper practice test will be administered by Library staff through the Homework Louisiana database. Results will be sent to students via email; please allow 7-10 days to receive scores. Registration is required. To register, call the Library location directly.

    *Mastering the Job Interview
    Are you searching for a new job? Your performance during an interview can determine whether or not you get your dream job. Learn how to perfect your job interview skills through this FREE seminar! Adults can come to the Main Library at Goodwood at 10 a.m. Saturday, January 12, to get tips for a great interview, common traps and pitfalls to avoid and interactive demonstrations for answering the most common interview questions. Registration is required. For more information and to register, call the Career Center at (225) 231-3733 or visit www.careercenterbr.com/events/.

    Get Organized in the New Year!
    Are you looking for tips and tricks to clean up the clutter and get organized? Join Certified Professional Organizer Alyssa Trosclair at the Main Library at Goodwood for a FREE seminar that’ll help you do just that! Adults are invited to the Library at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 12, to learn strategies that can help bring order to any space.

    The FBI & the Clementine Hunter Art Forgery Case
    Did you know that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has an Art Crime Team? The East Baton Rouge Parish Library Special Collections Departments invites adults to the Main Library at Goodwood at 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 16, for a presentation led by Special Agent Randy Deaton of the FBI’s Rapid Deployment Art Crime Team’s New Orleans Division. Deaton will discuss what the Art Crime Team does, as well as his investigation of the forgery of artwork by Clementine Hunter, a renowned Louisiana folk artist. Hunter was from north Louisiana, and in her earliest years, she sold her paintings for only 25 cents! By the time she died in 1988, many of them were valued in the thousands of dollars, some worth even more today. Several of Hunter’s paintings will be on display during the talk.

    *Geaux Science for Girls Storytimes
    Girls in kindergarten through third grade are invited to enjoy a special Geaux Science for Girls storytime at four Library locations this month! Girls can go to the either the Main Library at Goodwood, Baker Branch, Bluebonnet Regional Branch or Eden Park Branch at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, January 26, to have fun with science and math-themed stories, plus hands-on science and math experiences led by some of Louisiana State University’s (LSU) top women scientists and mathematicians. Sponsored by Halliburton and the LSU College of Science, this unique storytime is designed to inspire the next generation of women innovators! Registration is required. To register, call the Library location directly.

    The BREC Baton Rouge ZooMobile Visits Libraries in January & February!
    The BREC Baton Rouge ZooMobile has come back to the Library! Children ages 4-11 are invited to the Library in January and February to enjoy these FREE informative and entertaining programs designed to educate audiences about wildlife conservation. Attendees will be amazed as they get up close and personal with several live animals at each program and learn about their bone structures, fur and more! Each presentation lasts about one hour. Registration is required for all. For more information and to register, call the Library location directly. Here’s the ZooMobile schedule:

    • 10:30 a.m. Thursday, January 3, Pride-Chaneyville Branch
    • 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 16, Zachary Branch
    • 11 a.m. Tuesday, January 22, Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch
    • 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 23, Fairwood Branch
    • 4 p.m. Wednesday, January 23, Delmont Gardens Branch
    • 10 a.m. Thursday, January 24, Carver Branch
    • 4:30 p.m. Thursday, January 24, Central Branch
    • 4 p.m. Friday, January 25, Scotlandville Branch
    • 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 6, Baker Branch
    • 10 a.m. Wednesday, February 13, Main Library at Goodwood
    • 10 a.m. Tuesday, February 19, River Center Branch
    • 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 20, Jones Creek Regional Branch
    • 4 p.m. Thursday, February 21, Eden Park Branch
    • 4 p.m. Thursday, February 28, Bluebonnet Regional Branch

    Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd., (225) 763-2250
    Organizing for Your Weight Loss Goals
    Do you want to lose weight but feel overwhelmed by the mere thought of it? Adults are invited to the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 8, for a FREE presentation led by Certified Professional Organizer Alyssa Trosclair that will explore the connection between the struggle with weight and disorganization. The seminar will offer simple organizational strategies that can help make achieving your weight loss goals easier. Start the New Year with positive action!

    Teen Bookmark Contest
    Grab your squad and head over to the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 3 p.m. Wednesday, January 16, to design a handcrafted bookmark with other teens, and then submit it for consideration in a contest! Prizes will be awarded to the top two winners.

    Stress Survival Workshop
    Stress wears away at your energy, immune system function, and emotional wellbeing. Prolonged, chronic stress can cause vulnerability to illness and disease. There is something you can do about it, however. Adults are welcome at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, January 17, for a FREE stress survival workshop led by Dr. Karen Dantin, MD. The presentation will offer tools that can be used to identify and eliminate recurring daily stressors, plus relaxation techniques that can help reduce the strain life can bring.

    Carver Branch Library, 720 Terrace St., (225) 389-7450
    *Code It: Programming a Piano Story/Craft
    Kids ages 9-11 can come to the Carver Branch at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 16, to hear a reading of Girls Who Code: The Friendship Code by Stacia Deutsch, and Code It! Programming and Keywords You Can Create Yourself by Jessie Alkire. Later, each child will learn how to code using simple software.

    *DIY Lemon Raspberry Lip Balm
    Adults can come to the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, January 28, for a fun craft that can help provide some much-needed relief in the winter months. Using simple, household ingredients, you’ll learn how to make sweet raspberry lemon-flavored lip balm. Limited to 10 participants.

    Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch Library, 11300 Greenwell Springs Rd., (225) 274-4450
    *Octaband Movement Program
    This is a program for children ages 6-8 with physical disabilities. Come to the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch at 5 p.m. Thursday, January 10, to hear a reading of excerpts from Being Fit by Valerie Bodden. After the story, we’ll move like an octopus by stretching, shrinking, flowing, flexing, cooperating and connecting to fun music!

    Pride-Chaneyville Branch Library, 13600 Pride-Port Hudson Rd., (225) 658-1550
    Make a Classy T-Shirt Necklace!
    Teens can head over to the Pride-Chaneyville Branch at 3 p.m. Saturday, January 5, to make the perfect accessory for turtleneck shirts and sweaters. With five strips of T-shirt fabric formed into rings and an artificial flower for flair, you can create a simple and fabulous necklace!

    Rubber Band Bracelets
    You won’t believe how fast you can make these cool bracelets! Come to the Pride-Chaneyville Branch at 3 p.m. Saturday, January 26, to craft with other teens. We’ve got colors for both guys and girls, so bring your squad with you to make fun creations without a loom!

    Scotlandville Branch Library, 7373 Scenic Hwy., (225) 354-7550
    Envision Your New Year: Vision Board Craft
    Start the New Year with optimism to reach your goals! Teens are invited to the Scotlandville Branch at 3:30 p.m. Monday, January 7, to think about your goals, and then create a vision board using a poster and magazine clippings. After the craft, we’ll enjoy a sweet treat and discuss our plans for 2019!

    *You Can Be a King Story/Craft
    Kids ages 3-7 can come to the Scotlandville Branch at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, January 19, to hear a reading of You Can Be a King by Carole Boston Weatherford. Later, each child will create a Martin Luther King Jr. dreamcatcher craft.

    For more information about any of these January 2019 events or others, call the Library location where the event is being held directly or visit the schedule online at www.ebrpl.com. For general information about the Library, call (225) 231-3750 or visit the Library’s online calendar at www.ebrpl.com.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Council on Aging purchases property to expand services

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging Purchases Property to Expand Meal Services.

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging has purchased 2.8 acres to meet the demands of meals on wheels and congregate meals services.  The property, located on North 18th Street, will be the site of a new 25,000 square feet facility that will provide much-needed space for preparing home-delivered meals to seniors and congregate (hot) meals that are delivered to the 26 senior centers and feeding sites across the parish.

    “We have performed miracles in the current, but outdated, facility and I am eager to begin construction on a new state of the art building that will accommodate the ever-increasing needs of seniors in our Parish,” said Tasha Clark-Amar, CEO.

    The East Baton Rouge Council on Aging has been housed at the 5790 Florida Boulevard location for over 30 years.  The new facility will not only include a commercial kitchen and meal packing facility, but also a space for administrative offices for more than 60 employees and parking for the agency’s fleet of Meals on Wheels vans.

    “The North 18th/Fuqua site has been an abandoned property in my district for a number of years.  I am proud the Council on Aging is not only expanding services for seniors but investing in a much-needed area of the Parish,” said Councilwoman Tara Wicker.

    The Council on Aging will begin the design phase of the new development in January, with hopes of moving into the new building in approximately 18 months.

    “Many thanks to our board of directors and staff for all their hard work bringing this vision to fruition.  The entire parish will benefit from this investment in seniors, and the community as a whole,” said board chairwoman Jennifer Moisant.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Dr. Maurice Sholas inspires SU grads at fall commencement

    Nearly 500 graduates earned degrees from Southern University at its fall commencement, December 14. Led in by Traci Smith, chief student marshal, graduates convened to receive bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as commissions to the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy. The newest alumni heard from one of their own, Dr. Maurice Sholas, a physician and principal for Sholas Medical Consulting LLC.

    “You may look at today as a glorious ending, but it is a glorious beginning,” Sholas said to the graduates.

    The Baton Rouge native reflected on his family legacy of Southern alumni, beginning with his parents, who met each other at the university.

    “My first visit to Southern was while I was in my mother’s womb,” Sholas said. “My heart was set on Southern from the start in spite of naysayers — those who said I could go to a “good school” because I had good grades. Well, Southern University wasn’t just good to me. It was great.

    “I came here to see what is possible for people like us. I became a part of a community that cares for and cared about me.”

    Sholas said that Southern prepared him for life beyond the Bluff in a number of ways, including him going on to Harvard to earn his M.D. and Ph.D.

    “Southern gave me the confidence to stand with those from corners of the world I’d never heard of,” he said.

    Sholas told the graduates to not fret about tomorrow as they celebrated their achievements today.

    “You don’t have to know today (what’s next),” he said. “When I was sitting here, I had no idea what I would be doing for the next 20 years. While you sort it out, keep moving forward. Excellence defines us. Pride sustains us. Tradition guides us. We are Southern.”

    Sholas closed by reminding the graduates that Southern is a family-oriented organization that reaches well beyond the acres in the capital city.

    “Your SU tribe is a short phone call or text away,” he said. “And my service to you is not over after this message. What I know… what I have experienced is yours. We are Southern.”

    Former Louisiana Sen. Diana E. Bajoie received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the university. The Southern University alumna who is a pioneer in state politics. In 1976, she was the only woman serving in the Louisiana House of Representatives; in 1991, she was the first black woman elected to the Louisiana Senate; and in 2004, she was the first woman elected as Senate President Pro Tempore.

    The ceremony can be viewed in its entirety at https://bit.ly/2SLS59d. The Fall 2018 Commencement program can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2S0ByhV.

    By Jasmine Hunter
    Special to The Drum

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Louisiana Democracy Project gives Devil Swamp warning: ‘Don’t eat the coon’

    It may be cultural. It may be heritage but once cold weather and or holidays hit, a segment of the Louisiana population has a taste for wild game such as raccoon.

    Generally, this is not a problem but the Louisiana Democracy Project is continuing to issue warnings to its constituents to avoid eating wild life from the Devil Swam/Bayou Baton Rouge areas. “During the summer an advisory was issued by the Department of Health & Hospitals, along with the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries warning people not to eat fish or crawfish from the area. “We know many people enjoy eating raccoons and raccoons enjoy eating fish and crawfish. We think it is important to warn everyone to avoid not only the seafood but the seafood eating mammals as well”, said Stephanie Anthony, LDP president and chair of Pray for Our Air program.

    Paul Orr of the Lower Mississippi River Keepers agrees that people should not eat largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, or raccoons from the area. Samples show HCB hexachlorobenzene, HCBD hexachlorobutadine, PCB polychorinateed biphenyls, arsenic, lead and mercury in the fish.

    There have been advisory’s out since 1993 telling citizens not to drink, swim or play in the water because of contamination. Whereas some citizens around Alsen, Baker and even the Cedarcrest area of East Baton Rouge Parish say they are vaguely aware of contamination, they do not relate this knowledge to fish-eating mammals.

    Devil Swamp covers over 8 miles and more than 6,000 acres of land. It is bounded on the north by Hall Buck Marine Road on the east, by the bluff and the Baton Rouge Barge Harbor and on the south and west by the Mississippi River.

    During the question and answer period after a presentation to the Green Army meeting at Greater King David Church, award winning scientist Wilma Supra remarked that there was not legislative funding to replace signs damaged or destroyed, to warn citizens about hunting, fishing or swimming in contaminated waters. During the 1980s then State Representative Joseph A. Delpit authored legislation requiring signs posting to warning of water contamination in English, Vietnamese, and Spanish. Today the population in Baton Rouge is 54.98 percent Black, 3.32 percent Hispanic and 3.48 percent Asian. That correlates to about 126,089 Black, 7,974 Asian and 7606 Hispanic equaling over 60 percent of the population.

    Veteran environmentalist Willie Fontenot is said to have named Bayou Baton Rouge, decades ago. He attests to the contamination in the area. He said Devil Swam area is so contaminated that only the devil would enjoy it at this point.

    Anthony said the Louisiana Democracy Project does not ordinarily tackle water issues but they see this is a true grassroots issue affecting the quality of life for citizens whose lives they touch on other issues. They encourage interested parties to contact them at 225-907-1459 or the Department of Health and Hospitals 888-293-7020.

    Feature photo by Jed Postman, taken from SeriousEats.com

    Read more »
  • ,,

    North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative selects 200 new students

    The North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative has selected 200 local students to be part of the program’s fifth cohort, which will begin in January 2019. The students are predominantly from North Baton Rouge and are pursuing careers in electrical, pipefitting, millwright and welding crafts. Each student will receive free training and a National Center for Construction Education and Research Core, Level I, and Level II certification after completion of the program.

    The NBRITI program began in 2012 spearheaded by ExxonMobil in an effort to better connect community members to industry jobs. The training is based at Baton Rouge Community College’s Acadian Campus and provides no-cost training for high-demand crafts. For the past six years, several partners have supported the program and hired graduates including Baton Rouge Community College, ExxonMobil, Excel Group, Cajun Industries, ISC, Turner Industries, Performance Contractors, Jacobs Engineering, Pala Group, Triad, Brock Group, Geo Heat Exchangers, Stupp Corporation, GBRIA, Associated Builders and Contractors, Urban League of Louisiana, and Employ BR.

    “Our partnership is ensuring sustainable workforce educational opportunities in North Baton Rouge, as well as the entire region. ExxonMobil’s continued commitment to bring together business and industry, education institutions and the community is the model of corporate citizenship,” said BRCC Chancellor Larissa Steib.

    _G4A8249About 800 applicants for the fifth training class were screened by the Baton Rouge Community College and partner company representatives through a testing and interview process. Many attended the North Baton Rouge Career Fair in October to learn about opportunities in industry. The college will offer reduced-cost training opportunities for those students not accepted into the NBRITI program.

    “This training has the power to be transformative – not just for the graduates — but for their families as well. We will be hiring millwrights directly from this new class, and I pledge to continue to lead the initiative forward,” said ExxonMobil Refinery Manager Gloria Moncada. With the addition of a millwright track, this new class will triple in size compared to previous classes.

    A unique aspect of the program is a social skills component involving ongoing tutoring, financial literacy training, and resume and interview assistance. This involves additional support from organizations including the Urban League of Louisiana, BancorpSouth, and ExxonMobil YMCA Community Outreach Retiree Alliance.

    About 45 students of the current, fourth training class will graduate on Jan. 24, 2019, at a special ceremony at the Baton Rouge Community College Acadian Campus.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    ‘Revolutionary health research initiative’ launched in Baton Rouge

    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and the National Institutes of Health launched a revolutionary health research initiative called “All of Us Research Program” in Baton Rouge.

    The All of Us Research Program is building the largest and most diverse health data resource of its kind by asking one million or more people from across the country of different races, ethnicities, age groups, geographic regions, gender identities, sexual orientations, and health statuses to share their unique health information. Many of these people have historically been underrepresented in medical research. Health data from such a large and diverse group of people will enable scientists to study how different factors – from genetics to exercise habits – affect a person’s health.

    Baton Rouge is one of the early cities in the nation to see a focused effort to recruit participants, led locally by Blue Cross. The All of Us Research Program recognizes Louisiana’s diverse population and unique health challenges and encourages residents to sign up for a chance to be part of the future of precision medicine.

    Precision medicine is an emerging approach to disease treatment and prevention that considers differences in people’s lifestyles, environments and biological makeup, including genes. With eyeglasses and hearing aids, we have long had customized solutions to individual needs. More recently, treating certain types of cancer is now possible with therapies targeted to patients’ DNA.

    By partnering with one million diverse people who share information about themselves, the All of Us Research Program will enable researchers to more precisely prevent and treat a variety of health conditions.

    “The All of Us Research Program is an opportunity for individuals from all walks of life to be represented in research and pioneer the next era of medicine,” said NIH director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “The time is now to transform how we conduct research-with participants as partners-to shed new light on how to stay healthy and manage disease in more personalized ways. This is what we can accomplish through All of Us.”

    “Here in Louisiana, a state rich in diversity, we have the opportunity to be part of this important research initiative, one that can go a long way in helping to address some of the state’s health problems,” said Dr. Vindell Washington, Blue Cross executive vice president and chief medical officer. “We all know the state of health in Louisiana is poor. We have some of the highest rates of obesity and chronic diseases in the country, and we are consistently at or near the bottom of rankings of health statuses. All of Us will lead to healthcare breakthroughs we believe will be beneficial for our people.”

    Leaders from Blue Cross, the Urban League of Louisiana, Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome’s Healthy City Initiative, Louisiana Department of Health, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, the NIH and the YMCA of the Capital Area spoke in support of the program.

    “Through The Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative, we bring together many key stakeholders who make Baton Rouge a healthier place.” said Hymowitz “Good, timely data is something we always struggle to identify. All of Us will help us to make more data-driven decisions to better support our community.”

    Partners were also able to get a more thorough understanding of what it means to take part in the All of Us Research Program, what information participants are asked to provide and how the research is being used to further precision medicine.

    “This initiative is important to Baton Rouge and populations who often are underrepresented in medical research,” said Judy Morse, President and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana. “Without the preventative healthcare measures of programs like All of Us, it would be nearly impossible to detect and cure the diseases that plague our community.”

    Read more »
  • ,,

    SU Ag Center now accepting meat pre-sale orders for 76th Annual Livestock Show

    The Southern University Livestock Show Office is currently accepting pre-orders for non-processed choice meats from various livestock.

    All proceeds from meat sales go directly to participating youth as a reward for their hard work and financial investment. The following meat choices and quantities are now available for pre-order:

    · Whole beef $2,000
    · Half beef $1,000
    · Fourth beef $500
    · Whole pork $225
    · Whole lamb $200
    · Whole goat is $175

    There is a processing fee that is not included in the original cost of the meat. All purchases must be paid by money order or check and made payable to the Southern University Ag Center Livestock Show, prior to picking up the meat from the slaughter house.

    Those who don’t pre-order their meat are invited to do so during the show’s ‘Special Junior Auction Sale’ on Saturday, March 2 beginning at 9:30 a.m.

    The office will deliver the meat to either the Cutrer Slaughter House in Kentwood, 985.229.2478 or Rouchers in Plaquemine, 225.687.4258.

    Donations to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank are also welcome.

    The 76th Annual State Livestock & Poultry Show will be held February 28 – March 2, 2019 at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena, 14600 Scenic Hwy, in Baton Rouge.

    Southern University has held an annual Livestock Show since 1943 and has continued the tradition of providing an opportunity for the state’s youth to showcase their animals, gain entrepreneurship skills and receive character and leadership training.

    For more information on the SU Ag Center’s Livestock Show, how to participate in the show or how to purchase meat; visit http://www.suagcenter.com/page/livestock-show-2019 or contact the Livestock Show Office at 225.771.6208.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    MILESTONES: Eddie Ponds turns 80 with more than 500 published issues of The Drum

    Fall of 2018 is a special time of recognition and appreciation for Ponchatoula’s Eddie Ponds, a man known and respected far beyond the city limits.

    Image (144) HIGH SCHOOL

     

    He’s celebrating having published the 500th edition of his newspaper, “The Drum,” which has readers around the nation and beyond. Now, that’s a lot of papers and that’s a lot of work!

    With his friendly smile and quiet demeanor, one would never guess the long, sometimes rough roads it took to get so far in the world of media.

    Born in the Millville area of Ponchatoula 80 years ago, little Eddie was fourth in a family of ten children and grew up in a far different world than today.

    In a time when Italians could not live in Ponchatoula and had to be out by sunset, Blacks could not walk on the sidewalks if a white person, even a child, was there.Image military 1

    In the Ponds’ home, a high standard of living was instilled by teaching and by example. Both parents had third-grade educations and stressed the importance of education and solid work ethic. A family of faith, they walked together to services at Millville’s Star Valley Baptist Church.

    Eddie attended the Ponchatoula Colored School before going on to Hammond’s Greenville Park High School. Ponchatoula High School was just across the tracks — but Blacks weren’t allowed to cross the tracks.
    Further puzzling to youth was that on Saturday nights, teenage boys, all friends from both races, enjoyed hanging out at Billups Gas Station but they just couldn’t go to school together!

    Regardless of color, many young people got jobs out in public before they were old enough. Eddie’s was doing dishes in Little Ory’s diner where he worked all through high school.

    After graduation, it was off to the Army during the Viet Nam era, where he was in Ft. Benning, Georgia, and Hawaii for Advanced Jungle Training. Just before he was sent to fight, the situation changed and he returned home to marry Carrie Wells. For two years he worked at the sawmill until following his father-in-law in construction. Three times the salary, but some of the work in those days was brutal.

    After telling his wife he’d really like to save to go to college, she asked, “Why haven’t you said something before? You could have started this semester!”

    At some time, Eugenia “Sis” Hebert of PHS, had shown him how to do papers and thanks to the GI Bill, he was able to enroll. He earned his degrees at Southern University in Physical Science and P. E. along with his Teacher Certificate and his Master of Education at Southeastern. He and his wife both held two jobs to make it all possible and he commuted to Algiers to teach at L. B. Landry his first year.Drum 30 yrs

    Ever since high school he’d been interested in photography and even in the Army, where he also played saxophone in the military band, after hours he learned film processing. Hearing that teachers could attend Tulane at half price, he enrolled in Photography but had read every book on the subject he could find. Ponchatoula Librarian Clara Heitman called him any time a new book came into the library behind Little Ory’s, now the Library Room at Roux and Brew Restaurant.

    By now he was teaching at Ponchatoula High School and over the Photography Club. Some of his club members today are professional photographers, saying they owe it all to him.

    “How to Make Money with Photography” said that world was open to journalists so back to Southern University he went to study creative writing. This introduced him to owner and editor of the “Ponchatoula Times,” Brian McMahon, who gave him his start, hiring him to cover City Hall, thus deepening his interest and love for newspaper work.
    For in Eddie Ponds’ heart, he’d recognized early on the only news reported about Black people was for heinous crimes and he wanted to bring awareness and credit for good. He observed that even when famous Civil Rights leader, Julian Bond, spoke at Southeastern, no press covered the event.

    Image (149) ponds taking picturesLeaving a City Council meeting alongside Don Ellzey from “The Ponchatoula Enterprise,” Ponds expressed a desire to start a newspaper to “put things in perspective for the Black Community.” Ellzey offered the use of his facilities along with helpful hints in laying out a paper from start to finish.

    Thus, 1986, the fifteenth year of his teaching at Ponchatoula High School, saw the first edition of “The Drum”.
    That was the day “cut and paste” really was “cut and paste” and when it was time to go to press, he’d sometimes be up three nights in a row. On those days, he made his lesson plans for lots of activity so he could be on his feet to stay awake in the classroom.

    Ponds is known for his “positive” press as he avoids negativity and doesn’t even include police reports. “The Drum” and his good name have opened doors to meeting folks from all walks of life including officials and governors.
    He humbly considers himself “recording African American history” and, for the past year, has added videoing, especially the older population.

    Recently he was recognized by the Baton Rouge Metro Council with a proclamation for his service and on November 3, was honored with a proclamation by Ponchatoula Mayor Robert Zabbia declaring it “Eddie Ponds’ Day” before the whole congregation of his New Zion Baptist Church family.

    ponds familyEddie and Carrie Ponds have passed along the tradition at home as well, being the proud parents of two daughters, Sharon
    Ponds of Ponchatoula and Michelle Nesbitt of Conyers, Georgia—both graduates of Southern University and both educators. Following them are one grandson, one granddaughter and one great-grandson.

    What a credit this fine gentleman is to the innumerable lives he touches in person and through media! Congratulations, Eddie Ponds!

    By Kathryn Martin
    Contributing Writer

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Gregory Pierson appointed assistant director of aviation

    Gregory Pierson was appointed assistant director of aviation of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) by Mike Edwards, the director of aviation.

    Pierson has 12 years of airport management experience, and was serving as the Interim Assistant Director of Aviation. He was previously the BTR Airport Computer/Electronics Systems Manager (IT Manager). He first joined the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport 15 years ago as a PC LAN Specialist. Within his first three years, he was promoted to a PC LAN Administrator. In his most recent role as IT Manager, his Airport-wide involvement afforded him the experience to identify and manage the expectations and needs of various stakeholders, while ensuring the decisions and processes related to the Technology division were in alignment with the overall mission of the Airport.

    Pierson holds a bachelor of science degree in computer science with a minor in business management from Southern University, and a masters of business administration from the University of Phoenix. He has an ITIL Foundation and Software House industry certification and is currently preparing for his AAAE Certified Member certification. He is also a member of the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP), and is an IRS Registered Tax Preparer.

    “I am truly humbled and excited about the opportunity to serve in this new capacity. I look forward to continuing to do my part to make BTR the airport of choice, and to facilitate improvements in our community outreach efforts.”

    Greg grew up in the Baton Rouge Area, graduating from Scotlandville Magnet High School in Baton Rouge. He and his wife LaToya have three children, Alyvia, Dylan and Skylar.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Uncle Chess and The Groove to perform at Pit-N-Peel

    Uncle Chess and The Groove will perform at the Pit-N-Peel on Friday, November 30 from 6pm to 9pm. The venue is located at 2101 Government Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70806. Venue phone is 225-421-1488. No Cover.

    Uncle Chess and the Groove, known for their smooth Southern soul songs have appeared at The Baton Rouge Blues Festival, the Baton Rouge Mardi Gras and Soul Food festivals, and at the Henry Turner, Jr. Day Music Festival.

    The band is Uncle Chess on vocals, Burnell Palmer on drums, Randy Hamilton on percussion, Dameron Bates on bass, Bob Johnson on keyboard, and Ron Griffin on lead guitar.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    ‘Ms. Meta’ on frontline, empowering others facing HIV in Baton Rouge

    Meta Smith-Davis, 62, remembers the time she would sit on the porch saying, “You know they say that girl got that gangsta’?”

    “Yeah, she got AIDS,” she would say.

    Now, “Mrs. Meta” is the girl with HIV and a beloved counselor to hundreds of residents in and near Baton Rouge who are HIV-positive.

    Her message to them is clear: “There is nothing you can say to stop me. Nothing. You cannot stop me from loving you, from being here for you, for doing all I can to help you. There’s not any thing that you can tell me that I have not experienced personally, and​ I can tell you this, you do recover!”

    She is insistent with newly diagnosed clients, telling them, “You don’t have to die! People are living longer and fuller lives with HIV. Nothing in your life has to change when you take your meds and remain undetectable.”

    meta davis on screen

    As the assistant director of prevention for HAART: HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two, Smith-Davis is usually the first professional counselor​ to tell a client that they are HIV-positive. And she’s also the person who helps them develop a plan so that they are less afraid of living with HIV.

    “I do anything and everything that I have to do and can do to enhance the lives of someone living with HIV,” she said. Her commitment starts​ the moment she meets a client—whether their results are positive or not. Facing the results of an HIV test is frightening for many people and the team at HAART is focused on supporting people living with HIV/AIDS immediately.

    “We don’t let a client get out the door without helping them,” she said.

    Tim young

    Tim Young, HAART CEO

    This type of commitment is a standard the executive director, Tim Young, established at HAART. “He’s by far one of the finest men I’ve ever worked with. He’s fine human being,” she said. The non-profit organization is the largest in the state that offers a continuum of services for people with HIV/AIDS including primary health care, medications, housing, employment assistance, testing, and prevention education.

    Just after Smith-Davis was diagnosed in 2001, she walked into the HAART office for case management. She didn’t know anyone with HIV and needed help and support. “There was nobody. I felt disconnected from the world. (HAART) felt like home,” she said.

    She returned to HAART for ongoing care and to volunteer facilitating a workshop for women living with HIV. “Those women made me realize a sisterhood far greater than I knew I could have.” And it is that type of support and love that Smith-Davis said she sets to give every client. She goes to their medical appointments and helps them plan how to live their new life, especially if the client has to do so in secret.

    “I don’t care if they have to hide 30 pills in 30 different places in order to take the medicine, we will figure out how to keep them safe and how to keep them virally suppressed,” she said.

    She also shares strategies for safe sex based on the individual’s situation including same-gender sex. For one client she’d encourage them to use a condom correctly every time, for another the more realistic goal was to increase condom use by picking one day a week when they would always use a condom, then add days.

    Meta davis and menSmith-Davis, who is also a great, grandmother,  takes particular care of clients who appear to be in violent relationships. “Disclosing an HIV-positive diagnosis to a partner can add to or even start a violent relationship. So we counsel our clients very carefully. We don’t want a situation to escalate because one partner believes they can harm the other who is HIV-positive.”

    Her job, then, becomes to get the client to be as honest with her as possible. Especially, since it is required by law to disclose HIV-positive status prior to having sex. “This is required for the rest of their lives or they will face criminal charges and be labled a sex offender.” (Read: Things to understand about living with HIV)

    The self-described to’ up from the flo’ up, ex-con, drug-addicted, homeless Black woman living with HIV, said there’s nothing they can tell her that she has not dealt with personally. “That is truly one of the gifts God left me with coming from where I came from: I have the ability to relate to people in a whole different way,” she said. She uses this relatability to get youth—including her grandchildren—to talk about sex and HIV/AIDS. “We have to keep an open dialog or the streets will tell them all the wrong things.” She said the truth is no one has to get HIV. There are ways to prevent it.

    Meta davis award

    As the state co-chair of the Positive Women’s Network USA, Smith-Davis has met with politicians to advocate for better health services.

    After several sessions—even years—together, Smith-Davis and many of her HAART clients are now friends who she has helped reclaim their lives by getting healthier, pursuing education goals, having families, moving into apartments, and living open with HIV. She has worked with the Baton Rouge Stigma Index Project, and was named a Most Amazing HIV-Positive People of 2016 by HIV Plus magazine.

    She’s often celebrated as a hero for her work, but she said, “All I did was clean their mirror so they could see what I saw… All I did was clean the mirror so that they could do the work.” The work, she said, is being able to come to terms with an HIV-positive diagnosis and doing everything necessary to live a whole, healthy life.

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate writer

    More stories like this:
    Who Would’ve Thought?
    Fact: Eliminating stigmas can reduce the spread of HIV
    With HIV rates topping the nation, Baton Rouge needs HAART, Open Health, and PreP

    Read more »
  • ,

    Family favorite frozen treats brand Rita’s Italian Ice will host 4-day grand opening event

    Rita’s Italian Ice Creamery is excited to announce they will be hosting a four-day grand opening celebration for the recently opened location in Baton Rouge beginning Thursday, November 15, 2018.  This new location is owned and operated by Maria Finley.

    Regular size Italian Ice and Gelati will be served from Thursday, November 15th to Sunday, November 18th at reduced prices of $1 and $2, respectively.  Also, beginning at11AM on Saturday, November 17th, the first 50 families in line at the grand opening will receive coupons for a year’s worth of Rita’s Italian Ice. Ice Guy, Rita’s loveable mascot, a face painter and balloon twister will be present at the celebration. Drawings for special prizes including an autographed football and jersey by LSU Football Coach Ed Orgeron will occur throughout the weekend.

    Maria Finley

    Maria Finley

    Finley enjoyed Rita’s for the first time while visiting her son in Washington, D.C. when she thought she was opening a new chapter and leaving Louisiana behind to pursue her master of law at Georgetown University.

    “I tasted Rita’s for the first time and immediately called my realtor and told him to take my house off the market because I was coming back to Louisiana to open my own Rita’s Italian Ice franchise.  I said to myself ‘what is this stuff and why don’t we have it in Louisiana?’ It was that good. I am so excited to bring handmade frozen custard and Italian Ice made fresh daily to Louisianans,” said Finley.

    After the great flood in August 2016, plans to open were slowed, but Finley is happy to finally hold the grand opening celebration and invite the community to experience the same fresh Italian Ice she did while visiting her son.

    She has been a practicing attorney in Baton Rouge for more than 17 years and is excited to bring another passion of hers to the community.  She shared that the business has become a family affair with her son Douglas, managing the location’s website and social media accounts, her other son Branden, being her presence in the store when she is still practicing law, and her grandson’s mother, Tatyana, managing the store operations.

    Rita’s is partnering with the American Cancer Society in honor of her friend, Allison Kleinpeter Smith, by collecting monetary donations and travel size toiletries at the grand opening celebration to benefit the Hope Lodge in New Orleans.  Cancer patients traveling from outside of the city of New Orleans receiving life-saving treatment can stay at Hope Lodge for free.  Guests are encouraged to lend their support for the organization during the grand opening even and enjoy delicious Italian Ice at the new store while benefiting this great cause.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Barrow, Peacock named State Senators of the Year

    The Childcare Association of Louisiana recently named Senator Regina Barrow and Senator Barrow Peacock as its 2018 State Senators of the Year.

    District 15 State Senator Regina Barrow was honored for her support of important legislative reform issues promoted by the association and her many other significant contributions on behalf of early childhood education. The association also noted her tireless work in ensuring the safety and education of the state’s youngest learners and her passion about early childhood education. Senator Barrow is currently enrolled in the Tulane University Early Childhood Policy Leadership Institute and will graduate in November 2018.

    Barrow Peacock

    Barrow Peacock

    District 37 State Senator Barrow Peacock was also selected for the award. He promoted legislation during the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana legislature to lower the cost of childcare. The association also noted his consistent support of early childhood education when selecting him for the award.

    The Childcare Association of Louisiana is a professional organization serving the needs of licensed childcare centers and early childhood education across the state. Its mission is to educate, advocate and collaborate to build a premier, proactive early childhood education industry for Louisiana families.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Dawn Mellion-Patin receives Iowa State’s 2018 George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award

    Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center’s Vice Chancellor for Extension and Outreach Dawn Mellion-Patin, Ph.D., has been named the recipient of the 2018 George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award by Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

    Patin has dedicated her career to educating and improving the lives of small farmers. In 2005, she developed the Southern University Ag Center’s Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Training Institute, an intensive leadership development program that guides small, minority, socially-disadvantaged and limited-resource farmers through the process of becoming competitive agricultural entrepreneurs.
    aa8d40d7369d9be54015ed6f722c4bb9
    Her work in the field of agriculture has also provided her with the opportunity to serve as a panel manager for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); chair of the Southern Region- Agricultural and Natural Resources Program Leaders Committee; grant committee member for the USDA’s  National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA); 1890 representative on the National Extension Disaster Education Network Executive Committee and historian for the National Society of Minorities in Agricultural, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) organization.

    She has received the SU Ag Center’s Outstanding Specialist Award, Tuskegee University’s Distinguished Service Award, the Association of Extension Administrators Excellence in Extension Award and USDA NIFA Cooperative Extension System Outstanding Leadership Award.

    Patin earned a bachelor’s degree in plant and soil sciences and a master’s degree in educational agriculture, both from Southern University, and a doctoral degree in Agricultural and Life Sciences Education from Iowa State University.

    The George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award was established in 2005. The award honors distinguished College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni who have demonstrated outstanding achievement or leadership by making significant, influential, or innovative contributions to society.

    Patin received the award during the annual Honors and Awards Ceremony on October 26.

    By LaKeeshia Lusk
    The Drum Contributing Writer

    Read more »
  • ,

    Young ‘lawyers’ win in high school competition

    The Southern University Law Center Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project held its tenth annual Regional High School Moot Court Competition on November 2 and 3, 2018. Sixteen students from area high schools participated in the competition. The initial rounds of the competition were held at the Law Center.

    Four students advanced to the final round that was held at the First Circuit Court of Appeal. The finalists were Schyler Shelmire of McKinley High School (first place winner), Skyler Evans of McKinley High School (second place winner), Guevara Johnson of Southern University Laboratory High School (third place winner), and Myisha Hudson of Scotlandville Magnet High School (fourth place winner). The panel of judges that judged the final round was Trudy White, Judge, 19th Judicial District Court, Fred Crifasi, Judge, 19th Judicial District Court, and Wendy Shea, Professor of Law, Southern University Law Center.

    Pictured from left to right are Guevara Johnson, Myisha Hudson, Schyler Shelmire, Professor Wendy Shea, Skyler Evans, Judge Trudy White, and Judge Fred Crifasi.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Buddy Stewart Music Foundation honored during Henry Turner Jr Day Music Fest

    Henry Turner Jr. honored the Buddy Stewart Music Foundation’s Philliper Stewart, Sonia (Trudy) Stewart and Cardell Stewart with the 2018 Henry Turner Jr. Day Music Festival Community Award. A Certificate and Commemorative plaque of the “Baton Rouge Theme Song” were presented on Saturday, October 27 at the 2nd Annual Festival held at North Boulevard Town Square on the Galvez Plaza Crest Stage.African Queen Z Dance Troupe

    Henry Turner Jr.Day was established in 2017 to salute individuals, organizations and companies, in the greater Baton Rouge area, for their ongoing philanthropic efforts to improve the quality of life for people in the community.

    As a musician, bandleader, singer/songwriter, promoter, activist and musical entrepreneur Henry Turner Jr. is well known for mentoring musical talent. For his contributions both October 28, 2015, and October 28, 2017, were proclaimed Henry Turner Jr. Day by Mayor Presidents’ Kip Holden and Sharon Weston Broome. As a direct result of these honors Henry Turner Jr. Day now pays homage to others whose on-going efforts continue to make Baton Rouge a better place.

    The Buddy Stewart Music Foundation was chosen as it has served the Baton Rouge community for over 30 years. The former business was originally known as Buddy Stewart’s Rock Shop. It was, at one time, one of the largest minority family owned and operated music stores in South Louisiana. It came about as a result of Buddy’s passion for music. As a bandleader with a big band sound and the ability to sing, write, play and promote the art of music he understood the historical impact of music in people’s lives. Last year’s honoree was Families Helping Families.

    Lilli Lewis

    Lilli Lewis

    The festivals’ lineup included Louisiana Red Hot Records’ Lilli Lewis and featured Universal Music Groups Brett Barrow on guitar playing with Henry Turner, Jr. & Flavor. Additional performers included Clarence “Pieman” Williams and the Rouge Band along with Henry Turner Jr.s’ Listening Room All-Star’s April “Sexy Red” Jackson, Lee Tyme, Xavie Shorts, Uncle Chess and the Groove Band, Larry “LZ” Dillon, Dinki Mire and comedian Eddie Cool. Dance troupes included the Chinese Friendship Association of Baton Rouge, Yuan’s Dance Studio and African Queen Z. Famed drummer Joe Monk led a jam that closed the show and featured SmokeHouse Porter and Miss Mamie, Robert “The Juice” Lenore, Andrew Bernard of John Fred & his Playboy Band and 7 Goddess. Teddy “Lloyd” Johnson of Teddy Juke Joint served as Emcee.

    Feature photo: Henry Turner Jr. presenting the Buddy Stewart Music Foundation with the Henry Turner, Jr Day 2018 Community Award and Commemorative plaque of the “Baton Rouge Theme Song.”(L-R) Sonia (Trudy) Stewart, Philliper Steward, Cardell Stewart and Henry Turner, Jr.

    Read more »
  • ,

    E. Keith Cunningham of LHC earns Sterling Achievement Award

    The Council of State Community Development Agencies has recognized the Louisiana Housing Corporation for its efforts to house families displaced by the 2016 floods. The council recently presented LHC executive director E. Keith Cunningham Jr., with the Sterling Achievement Award during its Annual Meeting. “Receiving the Sterling Achievement Award is an incredible honor and accomplishment – one that recognizes our dedication to serving the citizens of Louisiana,” said Cunningham. “We have a dynamic team, who despite experiencing personal loss during the flood, demonstrated exemplary commitment and compassion for helping families impacted by the flood.” The Sterling Achievement Award recognizes state programs that demonstrate positive results in improving the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness or on the verge of being homeless. This award is presented annually to one state agency.

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Baton Rouge leaders mix it up in Washington D.C.

    WASHINGTON DC—There is something to be said about leaders who push beyond boundaries to forge relationships and gain cooperation from others. For all intents and purposes, that’s what leaders from Baton Rouge are doing on a national scale following with a networking mixer held last month with leaders in Washington DC.

    A delegation of elected and appointed officials from Baton Rouge attended the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference to build allegiance around issues citizens face and find resources to bring to their Louisiana districts.

    Along with participating in many CBC conference activities, the Baton Rouge leaders attended the first “Baton Rouge Meets Washington D.C.” networking mixer hosted by the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s office, the Southern University System, and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

    One goal was “to build on national relationships and use resources to develop and fund programs and projects for Baton Rouge and Louisiana,” said Cleve Dunn Jr., chairman of the airport commission.IMG_4351

    “In particular, for the Baton Rouge Metro Airport, it is our goal to leverage those relationships to develop the land surrounding the airport, fund capital improvements projects, and enhance our air service development by increasing the number of direct flights that we offer at BTR.” As an organizer of the mixer, Dunn said he believed the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference would be a great place to start the national relationship building process for the Baton Rouge leaders in attendance.

    “Not only did I feel that our leadership team should attend the conference, but I also felt that we should create and host a Baton Rouge signature event that would promote the city of Baton Rouge, the parish of East Baton Rouge and several of the cities economic drivers,” he said.

    More than 100 leaders attended the networking mixer.

    “Governmental officials, elected officials, developers, private equity professionals, and business owners; all focused on how we can help the city of Baton Rouge and the parish of East Baton Rouge reach its fullest potential,” Dunn said.

    The Baton Rouge Airport heavily relies on grants and federal dollars to expand runways and to complete capital improvement projects. Likewise, the city of Baton Rouge, the state transportation office, and the Southern University System pull most of their resources from federal dollars and grants. Leaders in attendance said the event gave them all a platform in the nation’s capital to present upcoming projects and programs to Congressional delegates and to potential funders and partners.

    We asked attendees to tell us about what they expected from the mixer and its outcome.

    Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport’s interim director of aviation Mike Edwards and Gregory D. Pierson, interim assistant director of aviation, said: “Support for infrastructure funding and our new air service initiatives is always at the forefront when meeting with delegates from any industry. However, one key expectation was to promote the diverse development opportunities available at BTR. Through doing so, we were also able to begin some preliminary dialogue about partnerships with other institutions from other industries that can further stimulate land development and business opportunities within the North Baton Rouge area.”

    President/CEO of the Indigo Engineering Group, LLC, Delicia N. Gunn, said, “My sole CBC Conference expectation was to meet with executives of the Baton Rouge Airport Authority and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.”

    State Rep. Edmond Jordan (BR—District 29), said, “My expectation was to network with other African-American leaders throughout the nation to compare ideas related to creating wealth and building businesses within African American communities. Additionally, I was there to promote the Baton Rouge region to other attendees who are located throughout the U.S.”

    What was the outcome for you and your agency in DC?

    Edwards and Pierson said, “The Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport was able to establish some key contacts towards formulating a coalition for promoting targeted routes for direct air service. We were also able to promote our Aviation Business Park along with all the economic development incentives that accompany doing business at BTR.”

    Rep. Jordan said, “I was able to network with business owners and elected officials; as we shared ideas, strategies, and successes within our community. Specifically, there were seminars related to federal government contracting and accessing venture capital that were engaging and thought-provoking.”

    How were your outcomes met through the Baton Rouge Meets Washington DC Networking Mixer specifically and through other activities?

    Edwards and Pierson said, “Through our (BR airport’s) discussions with legislative officials and other government partners, the mixer afforded us with the platform to solicit support and funding for capital improvement projects that improve the safety, operation, and development opportunities at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport. We were also able to meet and connect with Disadvantaged Business Enterprises and Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprises from other regions which will help us to continue to grow our DBE resource pool and further our outreach efforts.”

    Veneeth Iyengar, assistant chief administrative officer, at the City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge, Office of Mayor-President, said, “From City-Parish’s perspective, any opportunity that we have to pitch and export “Baton Rouge and the Parish” is a huge win for the community. The event was very important for Mayor Broome’s administration to connect with organizations and groups, whether entrepreneurs, thought leaders, folks from non-profits and the Federal Government on how we collaborate and work together. The enthusiasm we saw based on the individual and group conversations at the mixer especially in wanting to help our community was great and we look forward to following up quickly on those offers for help.”

    Gunn said, “Although my Washington DC-based firm, Indigo Engineering, has had the privilege of providing engineering and construction management services for cities across my home state of Louisiana, my biggest desire was to work with my hometown city, Baton Rouge….The mixer’s presentation of its airport and city goals provided me with inspiration and information regarding upcoming business opportunities. The casual setting afforded me an opportunity to have in-depth industry conversations that are often stifled around a business table. The event was a perfect recipe for successful networking.”

    Rep. Jordan said, “Baton Rouge was represented in a positive light and promoted throughout DC. There is no doubt that the mixer will lead to business opportunities and an infusion of capital for the city; and hopefully, a direct flight from BTR to DC.”

    What’s next?

    Edwards and Pierson said, “As with most things, the follow-up and ongoing collaboration is critical. We must ensure we build upon the strategies discussed at the most recent event to leverage those relationships established at the mixer for all future initiatives.

    Gunn said, “My next steps are to build relationships and to create partnerships with Baton Rouge Airport Authority and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. It is my desire that my firm becomes a trusted advisor and business partner to these two agencies. I seek to achieve this goal by sharing my life, work and play experiences in the nation’s Capitol with city planners to provide a unique, urban perspective for our growing metropolitan city of Baton Rouge. I also seek to leverage my established business relationships and contacts with private and government sectors to help the Baton Rouge Airport Authority and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development meet its business and planning goals.”

    Rep. Jordan said, “As this was just the first step of many to come, we must continue to cultivate relationships while implementing some of the ideas gained from the conference. We can’t become complacent or lose the focus and energy gained from the conference. Otherwise, it will be lost opportunity. We are better than that. Baton Rouge is better than that. Now let’s prove it to the rest of the country.”

    Also in attendance were Baton Rouge Councilmembers Erika Green, LaMont Cole, Chauna Banks, and Donna Collins-Lewis;Metro Washington Airport Authority Vice Chairman Earl Adams, Jr. ; State Reps. Ted James, Rodney Lyons, and Randal Gaines; State Senator Ed Price; Metro Washington Airport Authority Rep. Kristin Clarkson;‎ Federal Aviation Administration Rep. Nick Giles;‎ US Department of Agriculture Rep. Danny Whitley;‎ BREC Commissioner Larry Selders; Makesha Judson with the ‎Mayor President’s Office; Louisana DOTD Chief Legal Counsel Josh Hollins; Former Southern University SGA President Armond Duncan; Perfect 10 Productions CEO T.J. Jackson; and Rise of the Rest Fund Partner David Hall.

    By A.G. Duvall II
    Drum Contributing Writer

    Read more »
Back to Top
Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com