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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    Life In Living Color! New Venture Theatre welcomes Season 12

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

    East Baton Rouge Councilwoman Chauna Banks is hosting a second series pathways to acquire property in East Baton Rouge Parish. The event is free and open to the public. The meeting will include details on getting title insurance and paying the outstanding taxes.
    The second session will be held on Thursday, February 28, 2019, 5:30 p.m., Louisiana Leadership Institute, 5763 Hooper Road, Baton Rouge, LA  70811
    The goal is to help bring new life to blighted, abandoned or tax-foreclosed properties.  Agency representatives will present five unconventional pathways to acquire these properties.   Both residential and commercial investors will learn how to purchase tax-delinquent assets by attending these informational.
    A list of invited agencies and programs:
    • East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office “sheriff sale”, a public auction of property repossessed to satisfy an unpaid obligation.
    Parish Attorney’s Office, which handles the sale of adjudicated properties through public bids and donations.
    Civic Source, a company partnered with the City-Parish to offer an online process for the sale of adjudicated property in excess of 5 years.
    Mow to Own Program,  allows certain parties to avoid the public bidding and receive a preference in making an offer to purchase adjudicated properties  in excess of 3 years;
    East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority has the ability to acquire and quickly clear title to tax sale and adjudicated properties.
    For more information, contact the District 2 Office at (225) 389-8331 or email cbanks@brla.gov.
    Read more »
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    ‘Carrying on the Dream’ exhibit brings MLK hearse to Baton Rouge, Jan 15.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    Southern University System Board installs new chair, members

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ernest Gaines

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: http://www.ernestjgainesaward.org

    Read more »
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    Habitat for Humanity Opens 2019 Application

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE:  habitatbrla.org

     

    Read more »
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    Become a local expert and news source

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

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

    Complete this form

    We’d love to interview you in 2019!

    Read more »
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    Courtney M. Scott named chief service officer

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    Free library programs scheduled for all ages January

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Council on Aging purchases property to expand services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    Dr. Maurice Sholas inspires SU grads at fall commencement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Jasmine Hunter
    Special to The Drum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Feature photo by Jed Postman, taken from SeriousEats.com

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    North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative selects 200 new students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    ‘Revolutionary health research initiative’ launched in Baton Rouge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Image (144) HIGH SCHOOL

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Kathryn Martin
    Contributing Writer

     

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    Gregory Pierson appointed assistant director of aviation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    meta davis on screen

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

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

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

    Tim young

    Tim Young, HAART CEO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Meta davis award

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

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

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

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate writer

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

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

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

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

    Maria Finley

    Maria Finley

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

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

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

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

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

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    Barrow, Peacock named State Senators of the Year

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

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

    Barrow Peacock

    Barrow Peacock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Patin received the award during the annual Honors and Awards Ceremony on October 26.

    By LaKeeshia Lusk
    The Drum Contributing Writer

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    Young ‘lawyers’ win in high school competition

    The Southern University Law Center Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project held its tenth annual Regional High School Moot Court Competition on November 2 and 3, 2018. Sixteen students from area high schools participated in the competition. The initial rounds of the competition were held at the Law Center.

    Four students advanced to the final round that was held at the First Circuit Court of Appeal. The finalists were Schyler Shelmire of McKinley High School (first place winner), Skyler Evans of McKinley High School (second place winner), Guevara Johnson of Southern University Laboratory High School (third place winner), and Myisha Hudson of Scotlandville Magnet High School (fourth place winner). The panel of judges that judged the final round was Trudy White, Judge, 19th Judicial District Court, Fred Crifasi, Judge, 19th Judicial District Court, and Wendy Shea, Professor of Law, Southern University Law Center.

    Pictured from left to right are Guevara Johnson, Myisha Hudson, Schyler Shelmire, Professor Wendy Shea, Skyler Evans, Judge Trudy White, and Judge Fred Crifasi.

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    Buddy Stewart Music Foundation honored during Henry Turner Jr Day Music Fest

    Henry Turner Jr. honored the Buddy Stewart Music Foundation’s Philliper Stewart, Sonia (Trudy) Stewart and Cardell Stewart with the 2018 Henry Turner Jr. Day Music Festival Community Award. A Certificate and Commemorative plaque of the “Baton Rouge Theme Song” were presented on Saturday, October 27 at the 2nd Annual Festival held at North Boulevard Town Square on the Galvez Plaza Crest Stage.African Queen Z Dance Troupe

    Henry Turner Jr.Day was established in 2017 to salute individuals, organizations and companies, in the greater Baton Rouge area, for their ongoing philanthropic efforts to improve the quality of life for people in the community.

    As a musician, bandleader, singer/songwriter, promoter, activist and musical entrepreneur Henry Turner Jr. is well known for mentoring musical talent. For his contributions both October 28, 2015, and October 28, 2017, were proclaimed Henry Turner Jr. Day by Mayor Presidents’ Kip Holden and Sharon Weston Broome. As a direct result of these honors Henry Turner Jr. Day now pays homage to others whose on-going efforts continue to make Baton Rouge a better place.

    The Buddy Stewart Music Foundation was chosen as it has served the Baton Rouge community for over 30 years. The former business was originally known as Buddy Stewart’s Rock Shop. It was, at one time, one of the largest minority family owned and operated music stores in South Louisiana. It came about as a result of Buddy’s passion for music. As a bandleader with a big band sound and the ability to sing, write, play and promote the art of music he understood the historical impact of music in people’s lives. Last year’s honoree was Families Helping Families.

    Lilli Lewis

    Lilli Lewis

    The festivals’ lineup included Louisiana Red Hot Records’ Lilli Lewis and featured Universal Music Groups Brett Barrow on guitar playing with Henry Turner, Jr. & Flavor. Additional performers included Clarence “Pieman” Williams and the Rouge Band along with Henry Turner Jr.s’ Listening Room All-Star’s April “Sexy Red” Jackson, Lee Tyme, Xavie Shorts, Uncle Chess and the Groove Band, Larry “LZ” Dillon, Dinki Mire and comedian Eddie Cool. Dance troupes included the Chinese Friendship Association of Baton Rouge, Yuan’s Dance Studio and African Queen Z. Famed drummer Joe Monk led a jam that closed the show and featured SmokeHouse Porter and Miss Mamie, Robert “The Juice” Lenore, Andrew Bernard of John Fred & his Playboy Band and 7 Goddess. Teddy “Lloyd” Johnson of Teddy Juke Joint served as Emcee.

    Feature photo: Henry Turner Jr. presenting the Buddy Stewart Music Foundation with the Henry Turner, Jr Day 2018 Community Award and Commemorative plaque of the “Baton Rouge Theme Song.”(L-R) Sonia (Trudy) Stewart, Philliper Steward, Cardell Stewart and Henry Turner, Jr.

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    E. Keith Cunningham of LHC earns Sterling Achievement Award

    The Council of State Community Development Agencies has recognized the Louisiana Housing Corporation for its efforts to house families displaced by the 2016 floods. The council recently presented LHC executive director E. Keith Cunningham Jr., with the Sterling Achievement Award during its Annual Meeting. “Receiving the Sterling Achievement Award is an incredible honor and accomplishment – one that recognizes our dedication to serving the citizens of Louisiana,” said Cunningham. “We have a dynamic team, who despite experiencing personal loss during the flood, demonstrated exemplary commitment and compassion for helping families impacted by the flood.” The Sterling Achievement Award recognizes state programs that demonstrate positive results in improving the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness or on the verge of being homeless. This award is presented annually to one state agency.

     

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    Baton Rouge leaders mix it up in Washington D.C.

    WASHINGTON DC—There is something to be said about leaders who push beyond boundaries to forge relationships and gain cooperation from others. For all intents and purposes, that’s what leaders from Baton Rouge are doing on a national scale following with a networking mixer held last month with leaders in Washington DC.

    A delegation of elected and appointed officials from Baton Rouge attended the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference to build allegiance around issues citizens face and find resources to bring to their Louisiana districts.

    Along with participating in many CBC conference activities, the Baton Rouge leaders attended the first “Baton Rouge Meets Washington D.C.” networking mixer hosted by the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s office, the Southern University System, and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

    One goal was “to build on national relationships and use resources to develop and fund programs and projects for Baton Rouge and Louisiana,” said Cleve Dunn Jr., chairman of the airport commission.IMG_4351

    “In particular, for the Baton Rouge Metro Airport, it is our goal to leverage those relationships to develop the land surrounding the airport, fund capital improvements projects, and enhance our air service development by increasing the number of direct flights that we offer at BTR.” As an organizer of the mixer, Dunn said he believed the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference would be a great place to start the national relationship building process for the Baton Rouge leaders in attendance.

    “Not only did I feel that our leadership team should attend the conference, but I also felt that we should create and host a Baton Rouge signature event that would promote the city of Baton Rouge, the parish of East Baton Rouge and several of the cities economic drivers,” he said.

    More than 100 leaders attended the networking mixer.

    “Governmental officials, elected officials, developers, private equity professionals, and business owners; all focused on how we can help the city of Baton Rouge and the parish of East Baton Rouge reach its fullest potential,” Dunn said.

    The Baton Rouge Airport heavily relies on grants and federal dollars to expand runways and to complete capital improvement projects. Likewise, the city of Baton Rouge, the state transportation office, and the Southern University System pull most of their resources from federal dollars and grants. Leaders in attendance said the event gave them all a platform in the nation’s capital to present upcoming projects and programs to Congressional delegates and to potential funders and partners.

    We asked attendees to tell us about what they expected from the mixer and its outcome.

    Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport’s interim director of aviation Mike Edwards and Gregory D. Pierson, interim assistant director of aviation, said: “Support for infrastructure funding and our new air service initiatives is always at the forefront when meeting with delegates from any industry. However, one key expectation was to promote the diverse development opportunities available at BTR. Through doing so, we were also able to begin some preliminary dialogue about partnerships with other institutions from other industries that can further stimulate land development and business opportunities within the North Baton Rouge area.”

    President/CEO of the Indigo Engineering Group, LLC, Delicia N. Gunn, said, “My sole CBC Conference expectation was to meet with executives of the Baton Rouge Airport Authority and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.”

    State Rep. Edmond Jordan (BR—District 29), said, “My expectation was to network with other African-American leaders throughout the nation to compare ideas related to creating wealth and building businesses within African American communities. Additionally, I was there to promote the Baton Rouge region to other attendees who are located throughout the U.S.”

    What was the outcome for you and your agency in DC?

    Edwards and Pierson said, “The Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport was able to establish some key contacts towards formulating a coalition for promoting targeted routes for direct air service. We were also able to promote our Aviation Business Park along with all the economic development incentives that accompany doing business at BTR.”

    Rep. Jordan said, “I was able to network with business owners and elected officials; as we shared ideas, strategies, and successes within our community. Specifically, there were seminars related to federal government contracting and accessing venture capital that were engaging and thought-provoking.”

    How were your outcomes met through the Baton Rouge Meets Washington DC Networking Mixer specifically and through other activities?

    Edwards and Pierson said, “Through our (BR airport’s) discussions with legislative officials and other government partners, the mixer afforded us with the platform to solicit support and funding for capital improvement projects that improve the safety, operation, and development opportunities at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport. We were also able to meet and connect with Disadvantaged Business Enterprises and Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprises from other regions which will help us to continue to grow our DBE resource pool and further our outreach efforts.”

    Veneeth Iyengar, assistant chief administrative officer, at the City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge, Office of Mayor-President, said, “From City-Parish’s perspective, any opportunity that we have to pitch and export “Baton Rouge and the Parish” is a huge win for the community. The event was very important for Mayor Broome’s administration to connect with organizations and groups, whether entrepreneurs, thought leaders, folks from non-profits and the Federal Government on how we collaborate and work together. The enthusiasm we saw based on the individual and group conversations at the mixer especially in wanting to help our community was great and we look forward to following up quickly on those offers for help.”

    Gunn said, “Although my Washington DC-based firm, Indigo Engineering, has had the privilege of providing engineering and construction management services for cities across my home state of Louisiana, my biggest desire was to work with my hometown city, Baton Rouge….The mixer’s presentation of its airport and city goals provided me with inspiration and information regarding upcoming business opportunities. The casual setting afforded me an opportunity to have in-depth industry conversations that are often stifled around a business table. The event was a perfect recipe for successful networking.”

    Rep. Jordan said, “Baton Rouge was represented in a positive light and promoted throughout DC. There is no doubt that the mixer will lead to business opportunities and an infusion of capital for the city; and hopefully, a direct flight from BTR to DC.”

    What’s next?

    Edwards and Pierson said, “As with most things, the follow-up and ongoing collaboration is critical. We must ensure we build upon the strategies discussed at the most recent event to leverage those relationships established at the mixer for all future initiatives.

    Gunn said, “My next steps are to build relationships and to create partnerships with Baton Rouge Airport Authority and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. It is my desire that my firm becomes a trusted advisor and business partner to these two agencies. I seek to achieve this goal by sharing my life, work and play experiences in the nation’s Capitol with city planners to provide a unique, urban perspective for our growing metropolitan city of Baton Rouge. I also seek to leverage my established business relationships and contacts with private and government sectors to help the Baton Rouge Airport Authority and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development meet its business and planning goals.”

    Rep. Jordan said, “As this was just the first step of many to come, we must continue to cultivate relationships while implementing some of the ideas gained from the conference. We can’t become complacent or lose the focus and energy gained from the conference. Otherwise, it will be lost opportunity. We are better than that. Baton Rouge is better than that. Now let’s prove it to the rest of the country.”

    Also in attendance were Baton Rouge Councilmembers Erika Green, LaMont Cole, Chauna Banks, and Donna Collins-Lewis;Metro Washington Airport Authority Vice Chairman Earl Adams, Jr. ; State Reps. Ted James, Rodney Lyons, and Randal Gaines; State Senator Ed Price; Metro Washington Airport Authority Rep. Kristin Clarkson;‎ Federal Aviation Administration Rep. Nick Giles;‎ US Department of Agriculture Rep. Danny Whitley;‎ BREC Commissioner Larry Selders; Makesha Judson with the ‎Mayor President’s Office; Louisana DOTD Chief Legal Counsel Josh Hollins; Former Southern University SGA President Armond Duncan; Perfect 10 Productions CEO T.J. Jackson; and Rise of the Rest Fund Partner David Hall.

    By A.G. Duvall II
    Drum Contributing Writer

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    Bell directs New Venture’s ‘Love, Whitney – A Choreoplay!’

    New Venture Theatre recently announced the cast of the upcoming Love, Whitney – A Choreoplay!, October 19-21 at the Hayden Hall at Southern University. An original production, conceived by Greg Williams Jr.,  as a way to pay honor and tribute to one of the great voices of our time. Performed only through dance, Love, Whitney is a celebration of one of America’s greatest talents, Whitney Houston! The show catalogs her career while expressing the themes behind her music and her story. The show features all her greatest hits, and will have you dancing in the aisles. The cast are: Trinity Star Alexander, Zaria Brown, Adaya Robertson, Aleriya Griffin, Ambre Porter, Dion Sideboard Jr., Elise Patin, Elisha Jenkins, Jamaal Edwards, Jamin Brock, Jasmine Elliott, Kali Jones, Karenna Mitchell, Kari Johnson, Kayla Mitchell, Kerrington Griffin, Kodie Danay Brown, Krystal Gomez, Kyle Smith, Mariyah Osborne, MiKesha Anderson, Navaeh Robertson, Omarion Jones, Queline Ketchens, Raymond Turner, Rontrevius Foreman, Shira Brown, Tameia Hayes, and Trinity Simmons. Dwight Bell is director and choreographer. ℜ

     

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    Fashion’s next big designers–Christopher John Rogers, Oonarissa Brown-Bernard–hail from Baton Rouge

    When it comes to fashion destinations Baton Rouge is city that could be at the bottom of the list, but Christopher John Rogers and Oonarissa Brown-Bernard are changing that.

    Besides dominating the charts this year?  What do Cardi B and Sza have in common? They turn to Rogers for his ‘80s glamour meets punk rock inspired designs to make sure their style, just like their music, reigns supreme.

    While Rogers, who made his New York Fashion Week debut this year, is poised o be this season’s breakout designer he said this collection’s inspiration comes from a number of sources rather than one single theme. “I really like to allow my mind to wander,” he said. This year’s collection had a variety of influences ranging from 1930s French couture to 1970s West African photography.

    Brown-Bernard, the designer behind the labels OonaNicole and DoubleOSeven, is already preparing for her fashion debut on both coasts in 2019.

    “What I hope to gain from the experience is to increase exposure for my brand and ultimately have my garments sold in retail stores and boutiques”, said Brown-Bernard

    As many will begin 2019 with resolutions, Brown-Bernard will beginning the new year with a debut both coasts at New York Fashion Week and in Los Angeles at Style Fashion Week.

    As Brown-Bernard resides in Austin and Rogers has put down roots in Brooklyn, the two designers take the time away from their studios to discuss, their inspirations, design processes and most importantly the effect a Louisiana upbringing had on their careers.

    10 OonaNicole

    What inspired you to pursue a career as a designer?

    ROGERS: All of the greats — Todd Oldham, Issac Mizrahi, John Galliano. Also anime, manga, cartoons — the idea of clothing being a transformative vehicle and allowing the wearer to tap into a certain power that they’ve always had.

    BROWN-BERNARD: My mom who taught me how to sew when I was 12 years old, however, my husband is the reason I am pursuing my career as a designer.  I started out as an actress and I was ultimately pursuing a career as an actress.

     

    Did you study fashion and if so where?

    ROGERS: I graduated from Baton Rouge Magnet High School and then I went to Savannah College of Art and Design

    BROWN-BERNARD: I graduated from Southern University Lab School and then I studied fashion at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, California

     

    What would you say is the biggest misconception people have about those who work in the fashion industry?

    ROGERS: That everyone’s super materialistic and doesn’t go deeper than face value.

    BROWN-BERNARD: The biggest misconception people have about those who work in the fashion industry is that anybody can be in the fashion industry.  Many people think that one style of fashion is suitable for everyone and that’s not true. Each person has his or her own individual style.  You have to have an eye for fashion to be able to decipher what will look good on each body type but also represent the individual’s personal style.  Not everyone has a full understanding of what it takes to create a garment from scratch.  They think its simple like 1, 2, 3 and for basic design it is, but once the garment gets detailed its a totally different ball game.

     

    You made your New York Fashion Week debut this year, what was that experience like and what do you hope to gain from it?

    ROGERS: Hah, super overwhelming! I learned a lot about sticking to time lines, being ridiculously organized, and how to directly communicate your vision with as much clarity as possible. We’re working on building an actual business; so increased visibility towards stores was the goal.

     

    Where do you find inspiration?

    ROGERS: Mostly through color, and the idea of treating it like an object as opposed to just an abstract concept placed onto other things.

    Brown-Bernard:  I am a retro, vintage type of designer.  I love classics so I get my inspiration from the costuming in certain films.  Jackie O, Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Christian Dior, and Alexander McQueen inspire me. I’m also inspired by the thought of being the first well-known African American female menswear designer.

     

    How do you see the fashion industry changing over the next few years?

    ROGERS: A sense of increased accountability and transparency that’s come with the proliferation of social media. I think it allows artists and brands to be more direct with what we say through our work and connect with people who actually understand what we’re trying to say.

     

    Brown-Bernard: I am not sure because fashion is forever changing as the world keeps evolving. It’s a cycle. What is old to us is new to the new generation with just a different name.  I would really like to see fashion return to a place where you don’t have to expose your body to be sexy.

     

    Did living in Louisiana have an influence on your designs? Is there anything you miss about it? 

    ROGERS: For sure! A sense of needing comfort in clothing (depending on the garment), and understanding that things have to function. I absolutely miss my family, 100%.

    Brown-Bernard: Living in Louisiana did not have an influence on my designs; however, it influenced me to be a great designer because of where I come from and always pushing to be better. I definitely miss my family and the good food.

     

    If an aspiring designer came to you from Baton Rouge and said they wanted to follow in your footsteps, what would be your advice?

    ROGERS: Work as hard as you possibly can, and then work harder than that. It’s all about the end game, so learn as much as you can and always say “yes”.

    Brown-Bernard: My advice would be intern or work under a reputable designer and learn as much as you can. This would be very difficult to accomplish in Louisiana, so my next bit of advice would be to travel and attend networking events so you can see what fashion looks like outside of Louisiana. Work on your craft and build your resume, and most importantly don’t give up. It’s a long and rough journey, but if you’re serious about fashion it’s worth it to see it through.ℜ

     By Cameron James
    Special to The Drum

     

    ONLINE:

    www.christopherjohnrogers.com

    @christopherjohnrogers

    @oonanicole007

     

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    Bone and Joint Health to be the focus of workshop, Oct 12

    The Southern University Ag Center’s Family and Human Development Unit will host a free personal health history workshop from 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on October 12 at the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union, on Southern University’s campus.

    This workshop will feature sessions on managing rheumatoid arthritis and other bone and joint conditions, eating healthy for bones and joints, weatherizing your home and emergency preparedness.

    There will also be a fire extinguisher demonstration.

    This is the third personal health history workshop hosted by the SU Ag Center. The previous workshops focused on developing a health journal to keep track of an individual’s person health history, proper foot care, how blood pressure and blood sugar levels respond to dietary factors, and low impact exercises.

    Preregistration for the workshop is required no later than October 10. To request a registration form or to preregister, email Milissia_jbaptiste@suagcenter.com or delores_johnson@suagcenter.com, or call 225-771-2583 or 225-771-3704.

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

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    Paris McClain wins Louisiana National American Miss Jr. Preteen

    Nine-year-old Paris McClain has won the title of 2018 Louisiana National American Miss Jr Preteen.  She also won 1stRunner Up Actress and 3rdRunner Up Talent, Overall Best Resume, and Overall Best Thank You Letter in her age group. Her hobbies include volleyball, softball, dance, acting and arts. She also enjoys participating in the Destination Imagination STEM Club at Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts School. Paris also loves to volunteer at the food bank, feeding the homeless, and collecting clothing for girls in need.

    As the 2018 Louisiana National American Miss Jr Preteen, she received an $1,000 cash award, the official NAM crown and banner, a bouquet of roses, and air transportation to compete in the national pageant at Disneyland® in California the week of Thanksgiving. She will also be touring the famous streets of Hollywood while in California as part of her prize package.

    She said she plans to share her platform with girls all over the state. Paris wants to encourage young ladies to believe in themselves and always chase their dreams, just as she does.

    The National American Miss Pageant system is the largest in the nation. The focus of this organization is to create future leaders and to equip them with real-world skills to make their dream a reality.  The program is based on inner beauty, as well as poise and presentation, and offers an “All-American spirit of fun for family and friends.” Emphasis is placed on the importance of gaining self-confidence and learning new skills, such as good attitudes about competition, as well as setting and achieving personal goals. The Louisiana pageant was held June 2, 2018 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. National American Miss is a pageant system for girls ages four through 18. Contestants competed in four overall categories including Formal Wear Modeling, Personal Introduction, Interview, and Community Service Project.  National American Miss also offers optional contests such as the Top Model Search, Talent, and Actress.

     

     

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    School board selects Kenyetta Nelson-Smith to lead

    The seven-member East Baton Rouge Parish School Board unanimously selected Kenyetta Nelson-Smith Ph.D., as vice-president of the board following the resignation of Rep. Connie Bernard last month. Nelson-Smith has represented District 3 in North Baton Rouge since 2011. She is the assistant professor/program leader of child development at Southern University and an assistant specialist of community and economic development with the Ag Center. She will hold the vice president position through Nov. 6 when she seeks re-election.

     

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    Fact: Eliminating stigmas can reduce the spread of HIV

    The fact remains: There are still many stigmas around HIV/AIDS which are critical barriers to preventing the disease from spreading. In a city like Baton Rouge where new HIV diagnoses register as some of the highest in the nation, prevention is critical to stopping the disease and saving lives, said Tim Young, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two Inc., or HAART.

    When HAART opened its doors more than 20 years ago, the organization could only hope to save the lives of residents who were HIV positive. Now, people are living longer—and in many cases— living healthier with the virus that causes AIDS.

    “It’s been an uphill challenge from the beginning,” said Young.

    A large percentage of that battle has stemmed from stigmas people hold about the disease, said Eugene Collins, director of prevention for HAART.

    According to Collins, minimizing and eliminating stigmas can contribute to slowing the spread of HIV.  Once sex is discussed in non-condemning manners, behaviors and practices that put people at risk can be talked about and addressed. In Baton Rouge, a large population of new diagnosis are men who have sex with men. This behavior may be open or in secret. “Needle sharing now has a lower impact” said Collins who said it’s important to have conversations “around the dinner table” about safe sex practices just like the nation has done around needle use. These conversations aren’t happening, he said, because families still do not want to address homosexuality, premarital sex, or promiscuity. “The attitude is that these behaviors are wrong so the risks around them aren’t talked about in homes or schools or churches,” Collins said.

    A March 2018 report from the Louisiana Department of Health showed 4,080 people living with HIV in Baton Rouge.

    “This is an epidemic,” said State Rep. Kenny Cox, (D-Natchitoches) earlier this year during the legislative session, “HIV/AIDS destroys families, homes, communities.”

    “As a nation and a community, many of us have been quick to judge those with HIV, saying their infection was some kind of retribution for certain behavior. But, we don’t say people with other kinds of viruses, a common cold for example, deserved their illness,” said Young.

    “We shun the things we fear, and in the beginning, there was a lot to fear from HIV.  At first, scientists weren’t even able to prove it was transmitted sexually. That’s why we employ people with HIV when we can, and train all of our employees on how they can’t acquire or transmit HIV to or from our patients or others.”

    “As a community, we should reduce stigma around HIV. Without education, we may fear someone with HIV.  Without that stigma, those who are undiagnosed would be less fearful about learning they may test positive and how others around them may react to that news. We harm our community when we create fear in people which prevents them from being tested and accessing treatment,” Young said.

    Collins insists that these discussions cannot only lead to prevention but can also lead people to primary care at younger ages.  Because HAART has established an extensive referral system, residents can be connected to a network of service providers to get support. And, if testing shows that the person is HIV-positive, HAART refers them to a provider and secures medical treatment at its Baton Rouge facility, Open Health Care Clinic at 3901 North Blvd.

    “Open Health Care Clinic believes that addressing adolescent healthcare needs is essential to promoting healthier behaviors into adulthood, thereby bridging the gap between pediatric and adult primary care,” stated Lori Lauve, Open Health’s director of development.

    Open Health is a federally qualified health center which provides provide advanced medical services for every phase of a person’s life regardless of their financial or insurance status, Lauve stated in a news release. The services include pediatrics, dental, behavioral health, infectious diseases, preventive care, and endocrinology. It has extended hours, and is open for weekend appointments and walk-ins.

    The clinic provides primary care services to the entire Baton Rouge community with special care for people who are HIV-positive or who have been diagnosed with AIDS. “It’s whole care for the whole community,” said Young.

    He and Collins agree that community education and frank discussions about sexual behaviors are key to decreasing stigmas around HIV/AIDS and ultimately preventing the spread of the disease. Another tool for prevention is a medication called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). It is known by its brand name Truvada and can prevent people who are at high risk of contracting HIV from getting infected. PrEP assistance is provided at Open Health, HAART, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Baton Rouge Black Alcoholism Council,  CareSouth, Planned Parenthood, and Emerging Care of Louisiana. They also provide free HIV testing.

    Advances in prevention and treatment are bringing us closer to ending HIV, said Young. “I foresee a future when (Baton Rouge) finally has zero HIV transmissions reported in a year. That will be something for all of us to celebrate.”

    ONLINE:  http://www.haartinc.org/
    www.ohcc.org

    By Candace j Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

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    Gotcha gets state support to launch first public bike share program

    Gotcha has been selected by Mayor Sharon Weston Broome to launch the first public bike share program in Baton Rouge early next year. Gotcha’s bike share services will include the siting, installation, operation, maintenance, and ongoing management of the program in partnership with the City-Parish. The system will encompass approved locations within the city, Louisiana State University, and Southern University.

    Launching in early 2019, the bike share program will include 500 GPS-enabled e-bikes and 50 hubs across the city. Riders can locate and reserve bikes through Gotcha’s app. The system promises to be an affordable, accessible, and sustainable form of transportation for the Baton Rouge community.

    “Launching bike share in Baton Rouge continues our commitment to expanding transportation alternatives for our citizens. Throughout this process, we were seeking a partner with the expertise to serve both the community and local universities with integrated, multi-modal forms of environmentally-friendly transportation,” said Mayor Broome. “I am excited that this system increases alternative forms of transportation, reduces parking issues, and promotes an active, vibrant City-Parish.”

    “We’re excited to partner with the City-Parish of Baton Rouge to provide convenient and efficient ways for residents to reduce vehicle usage. Gotcha is committed to enhancing the health, mobility, and landscape of our partner communities and the leaders of the city share this commitment,” said Sean Flood, CEO of Gotcha.

    Gotcha was selected after a competitive RFP process conducted by the City-Parish of Baton Rouge and a third-party partner, Bantam Strategy. Details about the bike share system including name, hub locations, pricing plans, and bike design will be unveiled in the coming months.

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    With HIV rates topping the charts, Baton Rouge needs HAART, PrEP, and Open Health

    The HIV AIDS Alliance for Region Two, Inc., or HAART, is the 19th largest nonprofit in the state, with a budget of more than $25 million. But with an HIV AIDS population of more than 5,000 people in the nine-parish Baton Rouge region, and more than 20,000 people in state, the need for HAART services far surpasses its budget.

    “We have been assisting those with HIV for nearly three decades and it’s been an uphill challenge from the beginning, said Tim Young, HAART CEO.

    In 1995 when HAART first opened its doors, the medical community was focused on keeping people with HIV alive. Since then, doctors and researchers have learned to treat HIV more effectively, which means fewer people are dying and people are living longer with their disease, said Young.

    “When I began working at HAART, new medications were literally getting people out of their death beds,” he said.

    Many people were seeing health improvements from the new medications that were becoming available, but many still were not, and even those who did often experienced serious side effects.  Today, the medications are so effective that someone who acquires HIV can have a normal life expectancy if they adhere to an effective medication regimen.

    “Now, we are learning how to assist people who have been living with HIV for as long as HAART has been in existence. That’s an amazing advancement. We assist many to cope with the challenges of helping to raise their grandchildren, something many thought would never be possible,” Young said.

    HAART’s original role was to anticipate the services people living with HIV needed and weren’t receiving and to serve as the fiscal agent for Ryan White funding in the Baton Rouge area with other organizations to provide direct services. “The first thing we did was to recognize the need for a larger network of providers to serve an increasing number of people who were living with HIV disease with the advent of new effective medications.  In the late ‘90s, we added Volunteers of America, Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge, and Care South to the network of Ryan White funded providers.”

    These relationships aid HAART in providing medical treatment, medication assistance, and case management to assist patients in navigating the health care system. HAART also provides medical transportation, dental services, and mental health services. HAART has established Baton Rouge’s Open Health Care Clinic, located at 3801 North Blvd., to expand medical services and serve the wider community. “Over the past three decades years we’ve built an enduring community asset and positioned it to become an integral part of the health care network for decades to come,” Young said.  “HAART has grown from a small organization, coordinating funding for a network of providers for a single disease, to one of the largest community health centers in the state, poised to grow its own network of clinics across the city, serving both children and adults from every walk of life.”

    “The day of novel treatments is actually already here. Early on, patients had a complex medication regimen that was difficult to achieve and often had side effects, some almost as serious as the disease itself.  Multiple pills, some with and some without food, every four hours meaning interrupted sleep and other complications were normal. Now, for most with HIV, treatment is one pill once a day. That’s remarkable when you consider how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time, although a lifetime for some and sadly too late for others.  And they achieve complete viral suppression, so no more damage can be done to themselves by the virus and they can’t transmit it to others,” Young said.

    But, in a city with the highest rates of newly diagnosed HIV cases in the nation, is HAART positioned to slow down the spread of the virus that cause AIDS? Young explained, “Despite the educational messages, many continue to participate in risky behaviors which expose themselves and others to HIV transmission.  We’ve always relied on people changing their behavior and now we have a biomedical preventative that can protect them even if they don’t take other measures to protect themselves.

    The newest weapon against HIV is a one-a-day pill called PrEP. This Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis pill is a daily dosage of the HIV medication Truvada.

    “It works a little like birth control (pills) where a person takes it everyday to stop the virus from attaching to the immune system if they become exposed,” said Eugene Collins, director of prevention for HAART.

    “HIV disease is not just a threat to those who acquire it, but to potentially much larger numbers of people if left unchecked. It’s our responsibility to assist persons with HIV, not only to improve their personal health, but to ensure they don’t pass it on to others,” Young said.

    After testing positive, Baton Rouge residents are provided services through HAART’s Red Carpet linkage program that gets them connected “immediately” with medical and mental health appointments, employment assistance, and housing. “We provide a total continuum of care, medically and socially,” said Collins.

    According to Young, the strongest tools for HAART are the dedication and commitments of the non-profit’s board and staff. “We bring strong technical skills in the areas of medicine, psychology, finance, and marketing to bring awareness about the epidemic in our community and the solutions to limit and reduce its growth. Our new PrEP program, our new opioid-abuse outreach program ,and the broad spectrum of health and wellness services we bring to our patients are our strengths, thereby strengthening the community,” he said.

    HAART has survived for 22 years despite the constantly changing health care environment, and HIV care changes even more than health care in general.

    “We’ve been successful as a health care resource because we’ve been guided by a strong community-based board of directors, made up of experienced professionals who help us to look ahead and chart a successful vision for the future. Health care will continue to evolve and HAART will adapt to change so we may continue to pursue our mission and commitment to our community.  I’m confident of that,” said Young who is also CEO of Open Health Clinic. ℜ

     By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter
    @jozefsyndicate

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    Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair a success

    SUBMITTED NEWS–The 2018 Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair was a huge success in the Baton Rouge Community.  Four churches, one common goal.  Theme: “Behold I will bring it health and cure, I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.” Jeremiah 33:6.

     

    Hosted and sponsored by Allen Chapel AME Church, Pastor Demetrese Phillips, Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church, Pastor Elenora Mackey Cushenberry, Greater Mount Carmel Baptist Church, Pastor Clee E. Lowe and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Pastor Thoma F. Clark, Sr., and congregation initiated, coordinated and planned the 2018 Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair.

    Representation from all four hosted churches served as committee members.  Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church located at 8742 Scenic Highway, Baton Rouge, Louisiana was the site for the 2018 Health Fair held from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  The Faith Walk was from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.  Several health care practitioners/providers, medical pharmacy were available.   Exhibits/Exhibitors; on- site examinations; educational information; blood pressure checks; cancer awareness; cardiovascular-heart healthy tips; immunizations; mental health counseling; diabetes tests and consultations; cholesterol-glucose screening; foot examinations (podiatry); hearing screenings; nutrition consultation; oral health; prescription medication management; vision; and tobacco use dangers.  Insurance cards were accepted for vaccinations.  Healthy snacks, fruit, nutrition bars, water was provided to all in attendance.

    Door prizes were giveaways.  The Children’s Village was at the Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church located at the Outreach Center adjacent to the church.  Mr. Robbyn Matthews, Chair, Dr. Dell Mars, Co-chair of the CMUMC Health and Welfare Ministries, CMUMC served as the 2018 Health Fair hosted church.  The host church of the 2019 Health Fair will be Allen Chapel AME Church.  All the 2018 Health Fair Committee Members worked very diligently and hard in making this endeavor a huge success.

    Written by Mada McDonald
    Submitted by Katrina Spottsville

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  • $4 million to go to Southern University’s science and engineering building

    Entergy has partnered with Southern University and A&M College to further support their mutual commitment to developing engineering talent for the future. A $2 million grant to Southern University from Entergy and the Entergy Charitable Foundation will support classroom and lab infrastructure improvements, as well as curriculum and faculty professional development for the university’s engineering program. During today’s grant press conference, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a $2 million match.

    This multi-year initiative will focus on enhancing Southern’s engineering curriculum and staff development as well as state of the art improvements to labs and classrooms to enable students to obtain hands-on experience.  In addition, the grant will also fund the creation of internship and mentoring programs to enhance and strengthen the relationship between Entergy and Southern University.

    “As a national leader in educating minority and women engineers and STEM professionals, Southern University is an ideal partner for Entergy to continue to build on our investments in growing a diverse workforce,” said Leo Denault, Entergy chairman and chief executive officer. “Entergy has a long history of working with universities within the Gulf South to develop the professional and technical employees that can support the continued economic development across the region as well as Entergy’s internal long-term workforce needs.”

    Entergy has an extensive track record of supporting the communities it serves, and the company believes that reinvesting in these cities and neighborhoods will enhance the quality of life for everyone. Entergy also works to attract talented, diverse employees through its college recruiting efforts and relationships with minority professional organizations. Having contributed more than $2.3 million over the past five years to historically black colleges and universities in the company’s service territory, Entergy hopes to continue to play a key role in keeping talented graduates employed in our region.

    41513676_2123512174326507_7127266127679324160_n“When we invest in our students, we are investing in their future and the future of Louisiana,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “As career opportunities continue to grow in the STEM fields, it is necessary that we prepare our students to meet the needs of employers and be competitive in the global market, which is exactly what Southern University is doing while also ensuring African-American students receive the high quality education necessary for developing a diverse workforce. The long standing partnership between Entergy and Southern University is a successful blueprint for both industry and higher education.”

    “Our ongoing partnership with Southern University is an example of how industries and universities can work together to advance common goals,” said Phillip May, president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana. “Entergy Louisiana’s diverse and talented workforce includes some of the best and brightest engineers. We are committed to supporting programs that will help develop and enhance the next generation of engineering innovators.”

    “Southern University is one of the top producers of African-American engineers in the state of Louisiana and beyond,” said Ray L. Belton, Southern University System president. “This partnership with Entergy will ensure that we not only continue this great legacy, but that we also expand opportunities so that students are poised to make valuable contributions to our global society through STEM disciplines.”

    Take a look at the event gallery here.

     

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    Who to Watch: Barbara W. Green

    Baton Rouge counselor Barbara Green said she discusses everything with Seniors, parents, and social workers. At 71, Green manages a full time practice, host trainings and seminars, teaches in ministry, and publishes children’s books along with spiritual reflections. A native of Shreveport, Green has spoken to audiences that number in the thousands and consistently fills them with wisdom, hope, and clear instructions to move forward in their lives. She has been married to Henry Green of Belle Chasse, Louisiana for 48 years.

    Green is a licensed professional Christian counselor and marriage and family therapist who has been in private practice since 1989. She established Inner Reflections Counseling for “the purpose of helping people to help themselves.”

    Barbara W. Green shares "The Great One" with excited fifth graders in Baton Rouge.

    Barbara W. Green shares “The Great One” with excited fifth graders in Baton Rouge.

    She has recently taken her teachings on God’s call of parenting and family dynamics to groups across the state and nation through online podcast interviews. These teachings are written in her books: The Parent Anointing and The Great One.

    “Evangelist Barbara W. Green’s story The Great One will inspire readers to ensure that each generation’s history is properly passed down to equip the next generation for life’s journey. Although, the characters are dogs, their humanistic approach to spirituality and community is one we can all relate to. In this beautiful story, you will find disparity, hope, inspiration, and a quest to salvage your own family history and hold on to the greatness of family histories,” wrote Ellen Sudderth, the host of ESPresents in Virginia.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017:  Sponsored workshops and a weekend retreat for women. Launched The Parent Anointing seminar for parents, guardians, and individuals who work with children. Conducted workshops for the EBR School System and area churches. Conducted weekly workshop for East Baton Rouge Council on Aging for the elderly citizens who were affected by The Great Flood in August 2016. Published my first children’s book, The Great One, with illustrator Antoine Mitchell.

    What to expect in 2018 from you: Trainings and webinars in emotional intelligence, married couples enrichment, and Sister-to-Sister.

    Personal resolution: To leave this natural world empty so that I might enter the spiritual world full.

    Life/business motto: “Helping Others to Help Themselves”

    Business resolution: To better my clients emotionally so that they might live their best lives.

    What is your #1 priority right now?  Service!

    Best advice you’ve ever received?  Live Your Best Life Now!

    Role Model: Maya Angelou

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward?
    A deciding moment always comes on the heels of challenge. With that being said I think many of my deciding moments  have come when I felt I had little choice other than to choose to try. During the times of sickness, fear of consequences or getting beyond challenges that would inadequately define me if I failed, or just plain pride are the unctions that made me move forward to conquer the challenge. After the victories I knew that it was God who presented the URGE to give the challenge my best shot at conquest. The results have produced much humility in the recognition that it is God who gets the glory for every victory, beginning with the decision to even attempt the conquest of the challenge in the first place.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? Gospel

    What are you reading?  Butterfly Rising in my Soul by D. Renee Hamilton

    What’s entertaining you?  I go to the moves regularly. I like to watch “The Good Doctor” series.

    ONLINE: www.barbaragreenministries.org 

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Searching for the Louisiana Young Heroes of 2019

    Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge are looking for the 2019 Louisiana Young Heroes. A Young Hero is an exceptional young person who has excelled in academics, given significantly of themselves through public service, overcome adversity, or inspired others through their deeds and strength of character.

    Nominations are now being accepted for the 24th annual Louisiana Young Heroes.

    Nominees must be Louisiana students enrolled in an academic institution or homeschool program, and cannot be older than 18 years of age. Nominations and supporting materials are submitted through the online form at lpb.org/heroes. Previous winners are not eligible. The deadline for entries is November 30, 2018. Louisiana Young Heroes Day will be Monday, April 15, 2019. This year’s honorees will receive a $1,000 tuition assistance grant and other special awards.

    Submit a nomination at lpb.org/heroes.

    Read more »
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    Sandbag locations open in preparation for rain

    In anticipation of Tropical Storm Gordon, the Baton Rouge City-Parish announces additional sandbag pickup locations, below. Residents are advised to bring their own shovels.

    City-Parish maintenance crews are currently checking major out falls throughout the parish for drainage canal blockages. Tree crews are prepared to respond in the event of fallen trees.

    At this time, river stages are not predicted to rise above flood stage. However, drainage crews are closely monitoring river levels throughout the parish.

    For more information, follow @RedStickReady on Facebook and Twitter and download the Red Stick Ready mobile application – free on Apple and Android devices.

    WHERE:

    Airline Highway Park
    17200 Airline Highway
    Baton Rouge, LA 70810

    Alsen Park
    601 Old Rafe Meyer Road
    Baton Rouge, LA 70807

    Doyles Bayou Park
    7801 Port Hudson-Pride Road
    Zachary, LA 70791

    Flannery Road Park
    801 Flannery Road
    Baton Rouge, LA 70815

    Hartley/Vey Park
    1702 Gardere Lane
    Baton Rouge, LA 70820

    Lovett Road Park
    13443 Lovett Road
    Central, LA 70818

    Memorial Sports Complex
    1702 Foss Street
    Baton Rouge, LA 70802

    St. George Fire Department Headquarters
    14100 Airline Highway
    Baton Rouge, LA 70817

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    Women! A Week-Long Celebration kicks off October 5 in Baton Rouge

    The Women’s Council is a network of organizations and individuals committed to enhancing our community by connecting, promoting and empowering women. Women’s Week is a week long celebration October 5-14th. There are 115 free events during the week dealing with important issues including healthcare, education, family, community, economics, business, sports, arts and humanities as well as offering fun and interesting activities.
    With the kickoff luncheon being held October 5th from the Marriott Hotel in Baton Rouge, this year’s theme, “Coming TogetHER,” promotes collaboration, partnerships, and to strengthen the links of the chain of women who have continued to make our city/state dynamic!

    Read more »
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    ‘Finding Your Voice’ opens Sept. 6 featuring local artist in juried show

    LOCAL GALLERY TO FEATURE NATIONAL JURIED SHOW: FINDING YOUR VOICE

    Kelwood Contemporary Art, the Baton Rouge studio/gallery opened in 2015 by artist Jennifer Carwile, will hold a show called Finding Your Voice, featuring socially inspired work by forty seven artists from around the country. The public is invited to opening night, Thursday, Sept. 6 from 5-9 pm. The gallery is located at 8202 Kelwood Ave.

    Carwile’s inspiration for the show came with the realization that we are living in a period where it seems like people are finding their voice, and yet there is no conversation. The dialogue between disparate voices is not happening. Art can provide an opening to the discourse by showing issues through a new perspective and telling stories through a voice you hadn’t yet heard. The intention with this show is to give voice to the full spectrum of stories and experience. Through a series of gallery talks and community discussions she hopes to start dialogues to promote understanding.

    Local artists include Keith Douglas, Therese Knowles, Monica Santaella, David Hernandez, and Jennifer Esnault from Baton Rouge; Pippin Frisbie-Calder, Barriane Franks, and Antoine Prince from New Orleans; Elisa Gauthreaux from Covington; and Taylor Overby from Lafayette.

    Kelwood Contemporary Art is open from 1-5 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and by appointment. The public is invited to the following events:
    Show Opening Reception, Thursday, September 6 5-9 pm
    Gallery Talk : A Brief History of Art as Social Commentary, Sunday, September 23
    Gallery Talk: Exploring Identity through Art, October 7 from 2-4 pm.

    Image: Racial Profiles; Traci Mims; 2017

    Read more »
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    Study looks at whether exercise improves older African-Americans’ memory

    Scientists at LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center are recruiting participants for a study on dementia prevention in older African Americans.

    The project is unique because few studies to date specifically developed behavior change interventions for older African Americans that target preventing dementia, said Robert Newton Jr., who designed the project with Owen Carmichael, Ph.D.

    “The goal of Program for the African American Cognition and Exercise (PAACE) study is to increase our knowledge of the effects of behavior change programs on dementia prevention,” Newton said. Study participants will be randomly assigned (flip of a coin) to one of two behavior change programs:

    • A 12-week physical activity program, which includes weekly physical activity sessions; or
    • A 12-week successful aging program, which includes weekly small group seminars.

    Each program will take place in a community setting.

    Pennington

    Pennington

    “African Americans experience dementia, or severe problems with thinking skills that impact the ability to live independently at a higher rate than members of other ethnic and racial groups. Behavior change programs are safe, well-tolerated, and have shown some promise in reducing risk factors for dementia,” Newton said. “We hope to reduce people’s risk of developing dementia.”

    However, before Newton and Carmichael could study the effects of behavior change interventions, they first had to develop a program in which older African-American adults would participate. While there have been several interventions developed for African-American adults, those plans were not specifically designed for older African Americans.

    “Our first aim is to gather information directly from older African Americans, aged 65-85, about the kinds of activities they want to engage in and use this information to develop behavior-change programs,” Newton said. “Our next aim is to determine if the interventions will be effective in a group of older African Americans.”

    If the behavior change programs work as intended, Carmichael and Newton may be able to achieve their final aim – determining if the intervention affects participants’ thinking skills.

    Newton is an associate professor and director of the Physical Activity and Ethnic Minority Health Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical. His primary focus is examining how physical activity and exercise training interventions affect the health of African-American adults and children.

    Carmichael is an associate professor and director of biomedical imaging at Pennington Biomedical. His research focuses on brain aging.

    Funding for the study was provided by BrightFocus Foundation, a nonprofit supporting research on Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration and glaucoma.

    For more information about the study or to participate, visit here, call 225-763-3000 or email clinicaltrials@pbrc.edu.

     

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Lashley means business in the Big Apple

    Growing up in Franklin, La., LSU graduate Victor Lashley may have come from a small town, but he’s making a name for himself in New York City.

    “My very first day in New York City was the day I moved here for my summer internship. I packed my bags, got in a cab and pretended to know the address that I gave my taxi driver,” said Lashley.

    Lashley said the internships and connections he made at LSU set him on a path for success.

    “The College of Business has a lot of good partnerships with a lot of different companies, so they would come into the Finance Club and with a lot of opportunities for internships or careers and JP Morgan was on my radar. I just worked with the Olinde Career Center to be a qualified candidate. I applied and started interning when I was a sophomore.”

    During Lashley’s first summer at JP Morgan, he worked in the prime brokerage operation within their investment bank. Lashley returned to JP Morgan for a second summer, this time working in treasury services. After graduating from LSU in 2012, he became an official employee of JP Morgan, working as a sales associate.

    “Every 6 months I went to a different role, so during my first two years I had four different jobs. And then after that program finished, I placed permanently in trade finance and that involves importing, exporting, and working capital transactions internationally.”

    Lashley has since worked his way up to vice president of global trade at JP Morgan.

    “The day-to-day responsibilities are connecting U.S. customers with either a buyer or seller in an international market. So, (working with) a U.S. manufacturer selling to an emerging market or a U.S. company that’s sourcing or purchasing somewhere overseas,” Lashley said.

    While a student at LSU, Lashley majored in business marketing with a minor in leadership development.

    “I did a program in the Honors College called LASAL (Louisiana Service and Leadership), which is all about partnering with Louisiana locally to address poverty and coastal land loss, so it was a combination of two unrelated topics that gave me a very diverse experience in terms of class and activities.”

    Lashley said that experience at LSU, along with everything he learned through his various internships, has helped him get where he is today. And he’s not the only LSU graduate who is enjoying success in New York City.

    “LSU gives you the world in South Louisiana. It’s definitely very cultural, very rich in spirit and the LSU brand will stay with you for the rest of your life. I meet people in New York City who may recognize my class ring, or maybe purple and gold when I wear it, and it’s a connection that’s always there.”

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

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

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

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

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

    By Darryl Robertson
    Baton Rouge

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  • ,,

    Local campers visit Baton Rouge City Hall, Mayor Broome

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

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

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

    Read more »
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    New business comes to the Village of Tangipahoa

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Nominate Baton Rouge area volunteer activists by August 10

     

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

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

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

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

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

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    Local businesswoman to be featured in Avon campaign

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

    Starsky’s tips for success:

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

     

     

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    NAACP honors Stewart with Cobb Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

    About Louisiana Center for Health Equity

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

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    Plenty of Time!

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

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

     

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    Inaugural Black Out Loud Conference releases full schedule

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

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

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

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

     

    SCHEDULE 

     

    Friday, August 10 (Healthcare Gallery and Wellness Spa)

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

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

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

    8 p.m.  Howard Hall comedy set #2

    8:15 p.m.  Mixer w/DJ Automatik

    9:30 p.m. Closing remarks/announcements

     

    Saturday, August 11 (McKinley Alumni Center)

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

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

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

    11:10 a.m.  Transition

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

    Noon  Welcome from Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome

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

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

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

    3 p.m.  Keynote Address by Van Lathan

    3:45 p.m. Closing remarks/announcements

     

    Sunday, August 12 (McKinley Alumni Center)

    11 a.m.  Doors open for brunch

    11:10 a.m. Welcome

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

    Noon  Media Talk With Maxine Crump

    12:45 p.m. Closing remarks/dismissal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sean

    Sean Joffrion

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

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

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

    Baton Rouge Airport Commission Chairman Cleve Dunn Jr.

    Baton Rouge Airport Commission Chairman Cleve Dunn Jr.

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

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

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

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

    Lauren Smith Marrioneaux

    Lauren Smith Marrioneaux

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

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

    Cleve Dunn Jr

    Cleve Dunn Jr

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Zenobia Reed
    The Drum contributing writer

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Airport commission chair nominated for two Catalyst awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Baton Rouge Community is invited to attend.

    Submitted by Mada McDonald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Meaghan Ellis
    The Drum Contributing Writer

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  • Southern University Baton Rouge maintains accreditation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: www.sualumni.org

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

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

    Dr. Bernard Harris talks with Summer STEM Lab campers .

    Dr. Bernard Harris talks with Summer STEM Lab campers .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Southern University System Board approves student fee increases across campuses

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

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

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

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

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    Jordan joins Urban Congress on African American Males

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Son shares father’s legacy of Cook’s Theatre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Who to Watch: Dawn C. Collins

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

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

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

    Personal resolution:  Seize the Day.

    Life/business motto: Integrity. PERIOD.

    Business resolution: Uplift community.

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

    Best advice you’ve ever received? Breathe

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

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

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

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

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

    Website: DawnChanetCollins.com

    Social media: facebook.com/littleorganizerthatcould

    @DDCollins76 on both Twitter and Instagram ℜ

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    Historic independent police monitor bill heads to Governor’s desk

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

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

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

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

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

    COMPLETE HCR 98

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

    By On Notice 4 Justice

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    Judge Piper Griffin named Louisiana Judicial Council Chairperson

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

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

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

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

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    Southern University wins in NIS national oral and poster competitions

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

    Oral Presentations

    Irene Lewis   1st Place Agricultural Sciences undergraduate

    Kirstin Brooks 2nd Place Psychology undergraduate

    Gagandeep Kaur 1st Place Environmental Tox. graduate

    Poster Presentations

    Prathusha Bagam 1st Place Environmental Tox. graduate

    Demario Vallier 2nd Place Poster Biology graduate

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

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

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

     

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

     

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    Interview with Donney Rose on Black Out Loud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    IWE Festival returns to Baton Rouge with May 26th Kickoff 

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: www.iwefestival.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Christine Assaf
    Progressive Social Network of Baton Rouge

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

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

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

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

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

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    COMMENTARY: Push for new constitution is suspicious

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

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

    Sincerely,

    Jay Morris
    State Representative / District 14
    Monroe, La

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Mayor Broome launches Buy Baton Rouge program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    For more information about Senate Bill 365, click here.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Perkins has been appointed as library’s PR director

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

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Alumni host annual crawfish boil, music festival, May 5

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,

    Kina Kimble appointed commissioner of 19th judicial court

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

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  • ,,

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

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

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

    YES
    NO

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

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

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

    YES
    NO

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

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

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

    YES
    NO

    Capitol High School EBR Tax Opposition

    Read more »
  • ,

    SU, BRCC sign articulation agreement for STEM students

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

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

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

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

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

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Angela Rye to speak at Southern University Spring Commencement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Senator Regina Barrow
    Louisiana Legislature

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

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome
    East Baton Rouge Parish

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

    Rev. Lee T. Wesley

    Rev. Lee Wesley

    Rev. Lee Wesley

    Together Baton Rouge 

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

    State Representative Randal L. Gaines

    Randal Gaines

    Randal Gaines

    Chairman, Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus 

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

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

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

    Donovan Hudson
    Attorney

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

    Ernest Johnson JD
    Former President, Louisiana NAACP  State Conference

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

    This can still happen legally!

    What We Need!

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

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

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

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

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

    Colleen Kane Gielskie

    Colleen Kane Gielskie

    Colleen Kane Gielskie

    Assistant Director, ACLU of Louisiana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Sateria Tate
    NBRNOW Blue Ribbon Commission

    Read more »
  • ,,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    An open letter to the citizens of Baton Rouge

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

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

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

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

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

    Sincerely,

    Raymond A. Jetson
    Chief Executive Catalyst
    MetroMorphosis

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    Temple honored by Boys and Girls Club

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

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

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

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

    Friday, April 27th

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

     

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    Discover world of space with Renee Horton

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

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

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

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

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    COMMUNITY EVENT: Celebrate National Minority Health Month

    Submitted news

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Attorney General Jeff Landry

    Attorney General Jeff Landry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By Michele McCalope
    The Drum contributing reporter

    Read more:

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

    Attorney General to give update on Alton Sterling case

    ‘I am that next legacy’

    Department of Justice statement on the Alton Sterling investigation

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

    Dialogue necessary to move beyond fear

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

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

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

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

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

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

    Sessions during the symposium will include:

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

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

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

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

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

    ONLINE: www.suagcenter.com/symposium.

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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  • ,,

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

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

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

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

    Tara Melancon

    Tara Melancon

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

    The issue has become increasingly relevant.

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

    Read more at The Crime Report by Julia Pagnamenta.

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  • ,,,

    Nurses focus on ‘community medicine’ to restore healthcare desert

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

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

    exterior_460w-300x300

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

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

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

    IMG-4407

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

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

    DSC_8414

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    IMG-4228

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

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

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

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

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

     

    By Candace J. Semien
    Jozef Syndicate reporter

    Photos by Hodge Media Group

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