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

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

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

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

    Louisiana Leadership Institute president Micah Jones’ speech:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Former President Barack Obama’s ‘Graduate Together’ speech

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Former President Barack Obama

    Former President Barack Obama

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

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

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

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

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

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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    Vigil planned for Louisiana’s women prisoners threatened by COVID

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

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

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

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



    Councilwoman Erika Green

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Caring for yourself, others recovering from COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: www.cdc.gov

    ξ By Zenobia Reed

    The Drum Contributing Writer

     

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    Southern Teachers & Parents FCU approved as SBA Lender

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Volunteers are needed for “no contact” food delivery

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

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

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

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

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

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    Stay-at-home order continues until May 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    From Southern are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Cora Lester
    The Drum reporter

    @thedrumnews

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1,095 Days and Counting

    Rani Whitfield photo by Kikala Diallo

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

    One doctor’s frustration unfolds into Instagram excellence

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    @jozefsyndicate

    Read more »
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    Jade Brown-Russell named to Resilient Louisiana Commission.

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

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

    Joining the commission will be:

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    LaDonte Lotts takes JiggAerobics Fitness to Shark Tank

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

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

    Lotts

    LaDonte Lotts

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

    ll

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

    ONLINE: https://www.jiggaerobicsfitness.com

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Domestic violence may increase during COVID closures, help exists

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

    Here are resources:

    Emergency Shelter

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

    Individual Counseling Services

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

    Primary Care and Behavioral Health

    •  Capital Area Human Services (225) 288-1044

    Support Groups

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

    Food

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

    Clothing

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

    Financial Services

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

    Legal Aid

    •  Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (225) 448-0080

    Employment Services

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

    Childcare Assistance

    • Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) (877) 453-2721
    Read more »
  • ,,,,,

    Baton Rouge native develops antiviral drug with potential to fight coronavirus

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    maxresdefault

    Darnisha Harrison, CEO, Ennaid Therapeutics

     

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

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

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

    Groups that will participate in the task force include:

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    HIV specialist, Dr. Walter Campbell, returns to CareSouth

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    Children in foster care need your voice more than ever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

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

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

    Updated-Meal-Graphic-page-002

    Here are the changes:

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

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

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

    0003-1583x2048

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

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

    Read more »
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    Saluting our Sailor: Nicholas Lee of Baton Rouge

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

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

    Read more »
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    CareSouth offering curbside WIC services during COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    CareSouth WIC locations:

    CareSouth WIC @MLK

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

    8 a.m. to noon Friday 

    (225) 388-5861

     

    Baton Rouge 

    Suite A

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

    8 a.m. to noon  Friday 

    (225) 650-2093 or (225) 650-2019

     

    Donaldsonville Clinic

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

    8 a.m. to noon Friday 

    (225) 264-6800  

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    ON-AIR: Broadcasters and hosts covering COVID Louisiana

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

    The LaTangela Show

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

    Eyes Open with Tony Brown

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

     

    Talk Louisiana

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

    The Clay Young Show

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

     

    Insight Radio Show

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

     

    What’s Going On?

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

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

    By Yulani S. Semien
    The Drum Youth reporter

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

    Bryson Bouttee

    Bryson Bouttee, muralist

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

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

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

    The 9 Drivers of Poverty Series looks at the:

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

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

    ONLINE: wallsproject.org/onerouge

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

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

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

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

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

    East Baton Rouge Parish

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

    Jefferson Parish

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

    Plaquemines Parish

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

    Here is the delivery route.

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

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

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

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

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

    By Ezekiel Wright
    Contributing Writer

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    EBR Head Start programs to distribute meals starting March 23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    WONDERLAND HEAD START
    1500 Oleander Street
    Baton Rouge, LA  70802

     

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,

    Baton Rouge City Court ends normal hours until April 20

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,

    La. National Guard activates soldiers for medical, other support

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: http://www.geauxguard.com

    By Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office

    Read more »
  • ,

    Baton Rouge sees its first positive Coronavirus case

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,

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

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

     

    Monday through Saturday

    Open 10 am until 12:30 pm

    Closed 12:30 – 2:30 pm for cleaning

    Reopen 2:30 until 6 pm

    Sunday

    Open 3 until 6 pm

     

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

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

    Homework Help for all ages:

     

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

     

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

     

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

    Read more »
  • ,

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

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

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

    Julian White

    Julian White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Muralist Robert Dafford

    Muralist Robert Dafford

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

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

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

    Feature photo by Micah Viccinelli.

    By Helena Williams
    Special to The Drum

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,

    Southern University plans 140th Founders’ Day, March15

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

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

    Other events scheduled for the System-wide celebration include:

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

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

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

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

    March 31
    SU Day at the Capitol
    Louisiana State Capitol

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Conference helps teens JOLT their voice

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: wallsproject.org/joltcon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: @JuniorCosmetology

    By Yulani S. Semien
    Youth Reporter

    Read more »
  • ,,

    NAACP — vigilant in removing Judge from bench — thanks community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sincerely,

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

    Read more »
  • ,

    Help find the Angels who serve children

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

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

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

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

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

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

    About the Blue Cross Foundation

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

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

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

    Gov. Edwards said:

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

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

    Here is the statement from the LLBC:
    87468601_3006265502731325_3711661353669230592_n

    Additionally, the NAACP released this statement, Feb. 26:

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

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

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

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

    Sincerely,

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    High schoolers invited to CNA Institute

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

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

    During the institute, participants will:

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

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

    Click here to apply.

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

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  • ,,,,

    Southern University alumna earns Ship Handler of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Young Leaders’ Academy extends application deadline

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

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

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

    CRITERIA:

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

     

    APPLICATIONS ARE DUE FEBRUARY 28, 2020! 

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

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

    ONLINE: www.youngleaders.org 

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  • ,

    ExxonMobil Employees Inspire Girls to Pursue Careers in Engineering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

     

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

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

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

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

    Natalie Basile, author "Queen Sugar"

    Natalie Baszile, author “Queen Sugar”

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Kristen Downing opens ‘In Bloom’ exhibit at Southern University

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

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

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

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

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

    McMeans shares medical marijuana program updates with BR Press Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By LaKeeshia Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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  • Free tax prep days in Baton Rouge

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

    City of Baton Rouge Tax Preparation Sites

     Division of Human Development and Services

    4523 Plank Rd.

    Baton Rouge, LA 70805

    (225) 358-4561

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

    Fridays, 9am to 3pm, by appointment

     

    Charles R. Kelly Community Center

    3535 Riley St.

    Baton Rouge, LA 70805

    (225) 357-5013

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

     

    Chaneyville Community Center

    13211 Jackson Road

    Zachary, LA 70791

    (225) 658-9790

    Fridays, 9am to 3pm, by appointment

     

    Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center

    4000 Gus Young Avenue

    Baton Rouge, LA 70802

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

    Fridays, 9am-3pm, by appointment

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

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

    Edwards said:

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Center to give the gift of hearing with free hearing aids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Kia Bickham

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

    Morgan Lamandre

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

    Michelle A. Massé

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

    Karen Stagg

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

    Alma C. Stewart

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

    Beverly Brooks Thompson

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

    Iam Christian Tucker

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

    Erin Monroe Wesley

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

    Roderic F. Teamer Sr

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

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

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

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

     

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  • Donavan L. Johnson named BRCC dean of students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk

    Contributing Writer

    Read more »
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    Who to Watch: Myra Richardson

    Meet Myra Richardson, 21

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Southern University becomes the first HBCU to produce CBD products

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: www.alafiahealthcare.com.

    Alafia Healthcare is currently available at the following locations:

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

    Capitol Wellness Solutions
    7491 Picardy Avenue
    Baton Rouge, LA 70809

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

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

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

    The Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy
    403 Bolton Avenue
    Alexandria, LA 71301

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

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

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Communications Coordinator

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    Healthy BR, HOPE Ministries to get $900,000 to continue work in North Baton Rouge

    Nearly $1 million will be invested into two local groups whose missions include healthy living, workforce development, and improving food access in Baton Rouge.

    Healthy BR will receive an investment of $715,000 to continue to fight food insecurity and social isolation via the Geaux Get Healthy project. The Humana Foundation, philanthropic arm of Humana Inc. has made this commitment as part of its Strategic Community Investment Program in Baton Rouge. The Foundation began a partnership with Healthy BR in 2018 with an initial investment of $725,000.

    HOPE Ministries will receive an additional $189,700 as a key partner in the Geaux Get Healthy project, allowing for an expansion of the program’s workforce development program. By investing in HOPE Ministries, The Humana Foundation is expanding its Strategic Community Investment in Baton Rouge.

    “Working alongside our community, we are addressing food and asset security, improving the lives and health of all Baton Rouge residents,” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. “I’m encouraged by the initial results Geaux Get Healthy saw in its first year, especially the eight new locations where residents of North Baton Rouge can now purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.  I’m excited to see how an expanded workforce development program will help our community continue to grow and prosper.”

    HealthyBR is a community coalition that hopes to inspire a healthier Baton Rouge for all residents. Funded by both The Humana Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation, Geaux Get Healthy, a HealthyBR project, works in the Baton Rouge zip codes with the highest rates of food insecurity and health disparities across north Baton Rouge. Together with a coalition of local partners, the program addresses food deserts by saturating this region with numerous access points for purchasing fresh food at an affordable price. The program also provides educational programs to help increase fresh food consumption and social connectedness.

    As part of the Geaux Get Healthy project, The Humana Foundation is also beginning a new investment with HOPE Ministries, an organization working to prevent homelessness and promote self-sufficiency and dignity in Baton Rouge. The Foundation’s investment will be used to address post-secondary attainment and sustaining employment, expanding a workforce development program called The Way to Work.

    “Workforce opportunities and retention are an ongoing topic in Baton Rouge and Louisiana, as a whole. HOPE Ministries’ The Way to Work Division provides a unique workforce solution that helps people keep jobs and companies keep people,” said Janet Simmons, President and CEO of HOPE Ministries. “Thanks to The Humana Foundation, The Way to Work division is increasing capacity thereby increasing the opportunity for more people to gain access to sustainable employment.”

    Each organization that receives a Humana Foundation Strategic Community Investment has the opportunity to receive continued funding for up to three years based on the specifics results achieved in their programs.

    The Humana Foundation’s Strategic Community Investment Program

    Through partnerships with local organizations and community members, The Humana Foundation’sStrategic Community Investment Program creates measurable results in some of the most common social determinants of health, including post-secondary attainment and sustaining employment, social connectedness, financial asset security and food security. These investments are located in Humana ‘Bold Goal’ communities, places where Humana and The Humana Foundation are working to help people improve their health 20 percent by 2020 and beyond.

    In the first year of the Strategic Community Investment Program, The Humana Foundation invested $7 million in seven communities and funded programs that served more than 16,000 individuals and their families, addressing one or more social determinant of health. Each of these seven communities will receive continued or expanded Humana Foundation investments based on the measurable results each program attained in its first year. The Humana Foundation is also undertaking two new Strategic Community Investments in New Orleans, funding two organizations for a total of $1 million.

    The Humana Foundation’s continuing and expanded Strategic Community Investments include the following locations: Baton Rouge, La., Broward County, Fla., Jacksonville, Fla.; Knoxville, Tenn., Louisville, Ky., New Orleans, San Antonio and Tampa.

    ONLINE:  Strategic Community Investment

    ONLINE:  HumanaFoundation.org

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    Restore Louisiana Announces Changes to Homeowner Services in Hammond, Lafayette, Monroe areas

    Starting Friday, Jan. 31, Restore Louisiana will provide homeowner assistance services on an as-needed basis in the Hammond, Lafayette, and Monroe areas, as the following program locations will permanently close: Tangipahoa Parish Library in Hammond, Lafayette Public Library in Lafayette, and the University of Louisiana Monroe in Monroe.

    All homeowners currently being served at these locations may stay in communication with program staff via email and phone during regular business hours for the duration of their participation in the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program. Unique circumstances may allow for the program to provide limited in-person services for homeowners in these areas.

    The Baton Rouge Housing Assistance Center is not affected and will continue to provide in-person homeowner assistance Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Homeowners are encouraged to call their case managers to schedule appointments and confirm meeting locations.

    “As Restore Louisiana continues to assist homeowners impacted by the 2016 floods, we remain committed to ensuring that everyone around the state has access to the necessary program staff and services,” said Pat Forbes, executive director of the Louisiana Office of Community Development. “We continue to evaluate and adjust resources to meet the needs of homeowners and, as we’ve worked through the program, the use of those centers has dramatically decreased.”

    For assistance on all aspects of the program, homeowners may call 866.735.2001 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., or email info@restore-la.org.

    Read more »
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    Legislative Youth Advisory Council now accepting applications from high schoolers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ABOUT WEEKEND COLLEGE CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS

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

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

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    Drago’s set for February opening will feature nightly entertainment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Michelle McCalope
    Contributing Writer

    Read more »
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    Meet Mariah Clayton, Miss Louisiana USA 2020

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    Students shine light on Blacks in classical music

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

    ONLINE: Student Reporting Labs

    ONLINE: PBS Newshour Students Experience and Cope with Racist Stereotypes

    Read more »
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    In Memoriam: Former Mayor ProTemp Lorri Burgess, 56

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Bryan Washington to receive Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence Jan. 30 at Manship Theatre

    The 13th annual Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence ceremony will be presented by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30 at the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts. Houston writer Bryan Washington will accept the honor for his debut novel, “Lot.”

    Doors open at 6 p.m. The ceremony is free and open to the public, although reservations are requested at gainesaward@braf.org.

    The annual Gaines Award is a nationally acclaimed $15,000 prize created by The Foundation’s donors to recognize outstanding work by rising African-American fiction writers. It also honors the extraordinary contribution to the literary world made by native Louisiana writer, Ernest J. Gaines, who died in November 2019.

    Washington will read from his short story collection, which was selected by a national panel of literary judges. “Lot” is set in the East End of Houston and features a young man as narrator who keenly watches others as they desperately struggle or thrive.

    Washington’s fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Boston Review, and other publications. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Houston and a master’s in creative writing from the University of New Orleans. He is a lecturer at Rice University.

    During the Jan. 30 event, winners of the elementary, middle and high school writers’ competition will also be recognized. Winners include the following students:

    Elementary
    1st – Samara Bryant – Buchanan Elementary – 5th Grade
    2nd – Kirstyn Offord – Park Forest Elementary School – 5th Grade
    3rd – Aditya Sekharan – Highland Elementary – 4th Grade

    Middle School
    1st – Fuller Stevens – Sherwood Middle – 8th Grade
    2nd – Car’Liyah Carr – Scotlandville Pre-Engineering Magnet Academy – 8th Grade
    3rd - Z’yona Owens – Glen Oaks Middle – 8th Grade

    High School
    1st – Charlie Roth – Episcopal High School – 11th Grade
    2nd – Faith Wood – St. Joseph’s Academy – 12th Grade
    3rd – Madison Roy – St. Joseph’s Academy – 12th Grade

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

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

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

    Krewe of Oshun rolls Feb. 8 in Scotlandville.

    Krewe of Oshun rolls Feb. 8 in Scotlandville.

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

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

    Parade route:

    Krewe of Oshun Parade route

    Krewe of Oshun Parade route

    ONLINE: www.kreweofoshunbr.eventbrite.com

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

    EMAIL: kreweofoshun@nbrnow.org

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    Gumbo Run returns to Scotlandville, Feb. 1

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    Fitness Stroll rescheduled for Feb. 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    ONLINE: www.bodystyletraining.com

     

     

    Read more »
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    ‘THE AMERICAN AUDIT’ exposes America as a 400-year old business and its toll on Black humanity

    Baton Rouge spoken-word artist and activist Donney Rose has amassed more than 2,000 travel miles conducting hours of interviews and days of research in order to create an epic narrative that unravels 400 years of American History.

    It is an ambitious presentation called The America Audit where Rose explores America as a business and exposes its toll on Black citizens fiscally, spiritually, judicially, emotionally, and socially.

    To do so, Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow committed up to 15 hours a week for a year to complete this “audit.”

    “I am going all in,” Rose said, “The poem is one epic poem broken into nine different parts which all begin with a technical term used in an audit.”

    Last year, he performed excerpts of The American Audit at the 2019 Arts Summit of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the University of Northern Iowa, and Festival of Words in Grand Coteau.

    IMG_0889

    To pull together photographs, videos, and audio records he collected for this performance, Rose interviewed researchers and activists including Michael ‘Quess’ Moore, who co-founded Take ‘Em Down NOLA; Maxine Crump, CEO of Dialogue on Race-Louisiana; Chris Tyson, president of Build Baton Rouge, Jason Perkins, Ph.D., professors Eva Baham and Lori Martin; LSU history chairman Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Ph.D.; Southern University law professor Angela Allen-Bell; historian Thomas Durant, and many others, he said.

    The Jozef Syndicate asked Rose to share more on The American Audit which will showcase 7pm on Feb 28 at the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge.

    JS: American Audit is described as a multimedia, spoken word project that chronicles 400 years of Black American life using the extended metaphor of America as a business audited by African Americans (today). How else do you describe it to others? 

    ROSE: This has been my general explanation but I additionally add that it’s not just an exploration of financial/fiscal aspects of Black labor and humanity being audited, it’s also an exploration of the social, emotional, physical and psychological toll of the African-American experience and what findings come up when doing a deep dive into all of those layers

    JS: How did you decide on this topic and why multimedia?

    ROSE: In late 2018, I began thinking about the pending 400 year anniversary of the first documented enslaved Africans being brought to Jamestown. I knew that there would be several writings, discussions etc. about this historical milestone and wanted to find an artistic lens to approach it. Seeing that enslaved Africans were brought to this land under the guise of economics, I figured what better way to approach the topic than by writing about a fictional audit being done. The multimedia aspect of it was to expand my presentation. After 20 years of performing poetry, I didn’t want to just get behind a mic and perform this content. I wanted to do a deeper dive that would allow me to talk to history and cultural experts and display those discussions interwoven with the performative text.

    JS: Why this topic now? 

    ROSE: The plan was to have the project finished for 2019 to be in accordance with the commemorative year. There were a few setbacks that did not allow that to manifest, but I knew there would still be relevance going into this year. I have previewed excerpts of the project in various settings and the consensus is that is timely and very relevant to the times we are in.

    JS: Is this a stand-alone project of Donney Rose or connected to Black Out Loud?

    ROSE: The project is a stand-alone, however, components of it are likely to be incorporated in future Black Out Loudprogramming.

    JS: How did you know you wanted to do this work?

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    ROSE: What I really knew was that I wanted to push my artistry beyond the confines I had set for myself. Over the last few years, I have become a much more avid reader and cultural observer of politics and social behavior and how we, as Black Americans, respond to structural and systemic facets of our lives that were created beyond our control.

    JS: Before performing your poem “New Definitions,” you said a continuum of one conversation of Blackness is vital and necessary. What is that conversation and does this project contribute to it? 

    ROSE: I believe that the continuum of the conversation referenced is a continual deep dive into our humanity. So much of Black oppression has been rooted in dehumanization. Which is to say if you can convince African Americans that somehow their existence is less than, you can continue to marginalize them is a variety of ways. The American Audit absolutely gets to the root of dehumanization and explores the why and how.

    JS: What was the most interesting place (physically) that this project has taken you? How would you describe it?

    ROSE: Very early I visited the Whitney Plantation and that was a fascinating visit because of our tour guide. It was interesting to see just how vital sugar cane was to the area, because typically when we think slave labor we default to the idea of cotton being picked. I would say one of the other more interesting places I visited was the Federal Reserve of Philadelphia. It’s an interesting museum that details the how and why of currency production. There weren’t explicit displays about slavery there but it was easy to connect certain dots when you saw information about the origins of American currency.

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    JS: What was the most provocative discovery you made? How is it presented in the project?

    ROSE: Some of the most striking imagery comes by way of two visits to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. It’s such a visually stunning museum to visit and it allowed me to gain access to gripping images I would not have gotten anywhere else. The writing, in general, is pretty provocative as I am more or less trying to make a case for America as a metaphorical business to undergo an audit for its treatment of Black people.

    JS: Have you experienced frustration in creating this project? How do you work through the harder parts?

    ROSE: I have had moments in which I have wondered if I am being complete and exact in the writing, but I’ve had to understand that this one project will not be the answer to generations of inequity or dehumanization. That there will always be interrogations of this country by various people who are curious or bold enough to question it for what it is.

    JS: Who’s helped produce this and to what capacity?

    ROSE: My main co-creator is Steven Baham. He is doing videography work filming all the interviews and assisting with storyboarding/editing the final product. Leslie Rose has also been instrumental in doing photography work for a lion share of the images.

    JS: Is there a call to action with this work? 

    ROSE: There’s not necessarily a ‘call to action’ per se. The project is mostly a creative analysis of what this nation has been to and for Black people. Framed through the lens of economics because money, finance, and wealth are universal in the sense that this country consists of people who either have it or who are striving for prosperity.

    JS: Where does The American Audit go from here?

    ROSE: Hopefully the performance goes to other parts of the country. After the February 28th debut, a few more interviews will be conducted, ideally with scholars, experts, and activists out of state.

    JS: Audre Lorde wrote, “We must wake up knowing we have work to do and go to bed knowing we’ve done it.” With the work you’ve desired for the American Audit, do you get to point of being “done”?

    ROSE: For this particular project, yes.

    ONLINE:
    Instagram: the_american_audit
    www.manshiptheatre.org
    Donneyrosepoetry.com
    email Booking@donneyrosepoetry.com

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

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

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

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

    Two new state leaders were elected.

    Marja Broussard

    Marja Broussard

     

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

     

     

     

     

    Alvin Joseph

    Alvin Joseph

     

     

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

     

     

     

     

     

     

    NAACP 2020 officials

    Re-elected were:

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

    History of the Louisiana NAACP 

    ONLINE: http://lanaacp.org

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

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

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

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

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

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    Registration opens for first Underground Railroad to Justice Summit

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

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

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

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

    Becoming a Solitary Confinement Watchdog
    Katie Swartzmann, ACLU

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

    Social Workers as Watchdogs
    Ben Robertson, SUNO

    Becoming a Grand Jury Watchdog
    The Kennon Sisters

    Becoming a Felony Voting Rights Watchdog
    Checo Yancy, VOTE

    Becoming a Bail Reform Watchdog
    *Speaker Unconfirmed

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

    Keynote Address by Calvin Duncan

    Using Art to Advocate
    Kristen Downing
    Kevin McQuarn
    Donney Rose

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

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

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

    FREE lunch to those who register by Jan. 15.

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

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

    ONLINE: SULC

    Read more »
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    100 Black Women invite youth to BR Grow Girls mentoring program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Submitted News

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

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

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

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

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

    For more information,  email tobrsigma@gmail.com.

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

    Read more »
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    Celebrating 25 years of curating history

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

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

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

    LBC349

     

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

    Community News Submitted by Katrina Spottsville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Erin Fulbright
    Special to The Drum

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  • Changing the Pancreatic Cancer Narrative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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    Saluting Our Sailors: Petty Officer 2nd Class Errol James

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

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

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

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

    Naval Station Mayport was commissioned in December of 1942.

    It houses multiple surface ships as well as aviation units.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    Invisible Illness on full display through Picture of Health

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

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

    IMG_20190809_090409

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

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

    Leslie D Rose

    Leslie D Rose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Candace J Semien
    Jozef Syndicate ereporter
    @JozefSyndicate

    Read more »
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    Bradie James hosts inaugural internship with three scholars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: www.lsu.edu/diversity

    Photo: Bradie James with interns Justin Evans and John Wilson

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

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

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

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

    Cassandra Chaney

    Cassandra Chaney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Michelle McCalope
    The Drum Contributing Writer
    @thedrumnews

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    Southern University Ag Center Medicinal Marijuana Program to Host Job Fair

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

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

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

    Applications will also be available for other upcoming positions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk

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

     

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

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