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    Baton Rouge to celebrate a musical, community champion during Henry Turner Jr. Day Oct 28.

    A few months ago, a middle-aged Black man with his gray beard lending a distinguished air to his casual summer attire walked into the deli section of a popular South Baton Rouge grocery store. The server recognized him and said how much she had enjoyed his music at a recent outdoor festival. She then commented that she had also seen him on TV trying to “stop folks from smoking,” adding jovially as he left the counter, “You got it going on, Mr. Henry, keep it up!”

    For Henry Turner Jr., musician, performer, producer, entrepreneur, community activist, this unaccustomed neighborhood recognition was especially gratifying. But as the Henry Turner Jr. Day Music Festival on October 28 approaches, sincere humility radiates from a face as familiar to movers and shakers in downtown Baton Rouge as to longtime fans who have followed Turner’s musical career since the ’70s when he was a founding member of the popular R&B cover group, Crystal Band.

    Henry Turner Jr. Day was initially proclaimed in 2015 by then Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden and was endorsed this year by Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. “This celebration is not just about me,” Turner said. “It’s a conscious effort by the political sector to recognize a music entrepreneur with a strong community spirit – and all the grassroots musicians who have been true ambassadors for our culture.”HTJr Day Proclamation

    Turner’s true fans and new enthusiasts generated by Turner’s social media presence, have embraced Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor– the signature Louisiana Reggae/Soul/Funk/Blues group he formed some 30 years ago– with almost cult-like fervor in anticipation of this month’s festival in Downtown Baton Rouge.

    Over the past three decades, Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor has undergone changes in personnel, genres and format, but remained true to its roots. Turner drives an audience-friendly repertoire with his guitar mastery and earthy baritone –  from blues to funky uptempo numbers; from cool jazz to soulful ballads

    With more than 16 singles and eight CDs under its belt, Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor consistently delivers a crowd-pleasing show, whether at Turner’s intimate Listening Room,  open-air venues, or at one of the Ultimate Louisiana Parties he takes across the country to popularize his state’s rich culture.

    Henry Turner reggae IIIAs a multiracial dashiki-clad band, Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor found an early home at Tabby’s Blues Box on North Blvd., the internationally known music Mecca presided over by one of Turner’s mentors, the legendary Tabby Thomas. In fact, his Listening Room on North St., opened in 2014, was modeled after Tabby’s concept of showcasing local, regional, and national talent.  On Thursday nights, diverse audiences including worldwide tourists come to enjoy the Listening Room All-Stars and home-cooked soul food.

    Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor was introduced to the road when they brought their Louisiana Reggae-Soul sound to the Annual Bob Marley Festival, but stopped touring in June 2015 when veteran drummer Ronnie Houston died. Turner returned home determined to bring a fresh new approach to the local music scene.

     

    Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor

    Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor

    “It’s been quite a journey,” Turner said during a recent interview. Growing up on North 36th Street with his parents and older sister Irene, his love of music emerged early on. “When I chose the guitar, my dad got me lessons encouraging me not to neglect the business side, since he and my mom were both business owners.”  And well respected in the community for their tradition of helping others, Turner said.

    “When people see me today as a music entrepreneur and someone who truly cares about people, that’s the legacy of Henry and Mattie Turner,” he said. “That’s what motivates me to mentor young musicians, to join the Smoke-Free initiative, and to support organizations such as Families Helping Families.”

    As the founder of Hit City Digital Records, he releases and distributes his and other artists’ music globally while operating a recording studio. He said his parents would be proud that he has combined his artistry with the art of marketing

    These days, Turner is selling his enthusiasm for the new Baton Rouge with the “Baton Rouge Theme Song” which has been released as a single. “I just wanted to give my city the gift of a theme song that would celebrate what it means to all of us.” And on Henry Turner Jr. Day, you can be sure it will do just that.
    By Hedi Butler
    Special to The Drum

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    Meet Renee Horton–another hidden figure

    Renee Horton, PhD, remembers spending many nights gazing at the stars as a child growing up in Baton Rouge, wondering if there was anything beyond our universe. Her interest in space was stimulated during family trips to Biloxi, Mississippi, to visit her uncle, who was in the Air Force. The family would stop at the rest area outside of the John Stennis Space Center — where a replica of the moon lander was located. “I played around it, pretending I was exploring space. One day, I decided I wanted to be an astronaut,” Horton wrote  in an online feature at NASA.gov.

    She joined the Air Force ROTC program and, during her physical, learned that she had significant hearing loss. Later, Horton was diagnosed with a hearing impairment which prevented her from applying to be an astronaut. But, she learned she could still play an important role in sending crews to space.

    The Space Launch System is the first flight program Horton worked on at NASA.  Many SLS parts — including the SLS core stage — are made of metal, including the largest rocket fuel tank ever built, and metallic materials and welding are my areas of expertise. As an engineer at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, she is helping build metal rocket parts that can withstand the extreme forces of launch and space travel, and will send astronauts farther away from Earth than they’ve ever traveled before. “Our team at Michoud is making history every day as we build this extraordinary new rocket. We’re moving one step closer to launching the most powerful rocket in the world, and it’s exciting to watch all of it come together,”  she wrote.

    At her father’s influence, Horton earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Louisiana State University. She loved math, and he thought engineering would be the best way for her to use her talents. She said she later switched to being a scientist because of her desire to learn and investigate. “Physics is my passion,” she wrote.  “I’m the first African American — and first in my family — to earn a doctorate in material science, with a concentration in physics, from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.”

    Horton enjoys photography, mentoring outside of work, writing poetry, and reading.

     

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    New Orleans native Adam Rodney ranked #1 Epee Fencer in the US

    NEW ORLEANS - New Orleans native Adam Rodney will represent the United States and his hometown of New Orleans, La. at the World Fencing Cup in Heidenhiem, Germany.  According to a recent announcement by the United States Fencing Association, Rodney is the #1 ranked Epee Fencer in the United States following his accomplishments at the December North America Cup in Richmond, Virginia this past weekend.

    After earning a bye in the first two rounds, 

    Rodney recorded three victories in the third round of pool play action and in the table of 64 he upset the No. 3 seed Yeisser Ramirez in a tightly contested 14-13 bout. He then cruised past his next two opponents to advance to the quarterfinals to set up a showdown with Zeyad Elashry. 

    In a back-and-forth bout on the strip, Rodney won the final touch to take a 15-14 triumph and moved to the semifinals. Next up, he defeated Lewis Weiss, 14-9, to advance to the championship, before falling to Jacob Hoyle in the finals to take home a silver medal.

    Rodney is a member of The Peter Westbrook Foundation in New York, a not-for-profit organization that uses the sport of fencing to enrich the lives of young people from underserved communities in the New York metropolitan area. Founded in 1991 by legendary sabre fencer and Olympic bronze medalist Peter Westbrook, the foundation is committed to empowering participants with essential life skills. The St. John’s alum competes as a member of the New York Fencer’s Club.

    Rodney, who was a close call to make the 2016 Olympic Team, has since represented the United States in the World Cup in Bern, Switzerland.   Rodney also roared to a Silver Medal finish in the North American Cup Championship in Detroit Michigan in November.  He is a graduate of the famed St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, and St. John’s University. Many of his matches are featured on you tube and fencing promotions. 

    Rodney, who always identifies himself as a New Orleanian, but fences with the Olympian Peter Westbrook in New York and as a member of the New York Fencer’s Club, was a close call for the 2016 Olympic Team. He has been selected to represent the United States in the World Cup in Bern, Switzerland later this month.  He is also scheduled to visit Cuba in an exhibition.

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    Youth to Watch: Jason Holliday Jr.

    Every year, The Drum presents individuals who our readers need to watch and take note of. For 2017, we begin with youth to watch. Because of their leadership skills, gifts, talents, and personality, twelve Louisiana youth have been selected as Youth to Watch in 2017. “These youth show exceptional character and work ethics. They have vision and ability to be successful with excellence.”

    Meet: Jason Holliday Jr., 17

    Brusly High School

    Parents: Jason Holliday Sr. and Ledidra Carter

    College and career choice: I am currently undecided about what college I want to attend. I want to become a professional football player or professional basketball player.

    Biggest accomplishments: Being selected as 1st Team All District Basketball, 1st Team All District Football, and All-State Athlete for 2016-2017.

    I was named WAFB’s player of the week last month! I was selected to represent Louisiana in the EPS Texas vs. Louisiana Bowl being played at the AT&T stadium in Dallas, Texas, as well as selected by Louisiana High School Athletic Association to play in the Red Stick Bowl in Baton Rouge. I have been playing sports since the age of four and I attend the AAU Junior Olympics in track and field on the 4×1 relay team for Eagles Wing Track Club  in 2009.

    I also attended the ESPN World Wide of Sports AAU basketball national championship in Orlando, Florida with the AAU team Tarheels Select. We won the championship in 2012. I returned to the national championship in Las Vegas with another AAU team, Elfrid Payton Elite Basketball team 2013.

    10 Jason HollidayWhy was this “big” for you? Because I worked extremely hard to be recognized as one of the best athletes in my district and in the state of Louisiana.

    Life aspirations:  I want to be a professional athlete.  I want to give back to the people who helped me and kids who look up to me, be a positive role model.

    What is your motto, core belief, or favorite quote?  My motto is, “Go hard or go home!”  I believe that there is always someone out there as hungry for success as I am and willing to work as hard as I do, so that makes me work even harder.

    Mentors? My mentors are my mother and  Coach Marc Brown, they both push me to be the best I can be in whatever I do and never let anyone tell me that I CAN’T do something!

    Goals for 2017:  To graduate from high school and sign a full scholarship to the school of my choice.

    What are you reading? “The Mind of Champions” by Jim Afremow

    What music are you listening to? Rap,  Hip Hop, and R & B.

    Hobbies: Play basketball and football and video games.

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    Youth to Watch in 2017

    Every year, The Drum presents individuals who our readers need to watch and take note of. For 2017, we begin with youth to watch. Because of their leadership skills, gifts, talents, and personality, twelve Louisiana youth have been selected as Youth to Watch in 2017. “These youth show exceptional character and work ethics. They have vision and ability to be successful with excellence.”

    Meet:

     

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    Youth to Watch: Alexandria ‘Chef Alex’ Bellanger

    Every year, The Drum presents individuals who our readers need to watch and take note of. For 2017, we begin with youth to watch. Because of their leadership skills, gifts, talents, and personality, twelve Louisiana youth have been selected as Youth to Watch in 2017. “These youth show exceptional character and work ethics. They have vision and ability to be successful with excellence.”

    Meet Alexandria “Chef Alex” Bellanger, 9
    School: Central Intermediate
    Parents: Al and Dorsey Bellanger

    College and career choice: I want to be top in my class like my grandmother. My ultimate dream is to become a doctor who also cooks. So I want to own my own hospitals, yes hospitals and I would like to own a bakery.

    Biggest accomplishments: Oh goodness! Where do I start? I have several. Some of my biggest accomplishments are cooking for and serving the homeless for Thanksgiving, donating my hair to the “Locks of Love” foundation, being live on air with Graham Ulkins on WAFB, cooking live in my home on NBC 33, and achieving A B Honor Roll.

    Why was this “big” for you? I would have to say that cooking and serving the homeless for Thanksgiving made me really happy. It felt good to show others that people do care. I love putting a smile on others’  faces and I loved to hear them talk about my cooking and how good it was. Donating my hair to the Locks of Love foundation was BIG for me, because I knew it would make someone smile again and that brings me joy knowing that little me could do that for someone. Being on WAFB & NBC 33 was really big… I mean what average 8 year old at the time can say that they had camera crews setup in their home while they cook. It was an awesome experience. Achieving A B Honor Roll was a big deal to me because it means that all of my hard work is paying off.

    Chef Alex

    Chef Alex

    Life aspirations: I want to be known as the little girl with a big heart. I want to become a doctor and help people all over the world, as well as being known as a famous chef.

    What is your motto, core belief, or favorite quote? Everyone that knows me knows my motto is “The magic always starts in the kitchen”. For my helping this is where it all begins, family time and good eating.

    Mentors: My parents are my biggest mentors. They both tell me that I can be whatever I want to be and if possible help me to achieve it. My dad has helped me build my grilling skills, along with whipping up a scrumptious bowl of grits. My mom mentors me by not only sharing her love for cooking by teaching me cooking skills but teaching me to love the unique young lady God has created me to be.

    Goals for 2017: My number one goal of 2017 is to release my debut cookbook Spring 2017 and have a Spring and Summer book tour.

    What are you reading? “No Ordinary Sound: A Melody Classic,” “Beforever,” and “American Girl”. I am really enjoying this book. It covers the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

    What music are you listening to? Since Christmas is my favorite holiday. I listen to Christmas music year round. There’s something about it that just makes me happy. Right now Mariah Carey’s holiday channel on Pandora is on repeat.

    Hobbies: What do you do for fun? I love cooking and working on new recipes, attending the theatre, traveling, swimming, dancing, reading, antique shopping and arts and crafts.

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    Youth to Watch: Frederick Bell Jr. 19

    Every year, The Drum presents individuals who our readers need to watch and take note of. For 2017, we begin with youth to watch. Because of their leadership skills, gifts, talents, and personality, twelve Louisiana youth have been selected as Youth to Watch in 2017. “These youth show exceptional character and work ethics. They have vision and ability to be successful with excellence.” Meet Frederick Bell Jr., 19

    School: Louisiana State University
    Parents: Freda Mason and the late Frederick D. Bell Sr.
    Career choice: Law, politics and government

    Biggest accomplishments: Being elected the youngest Louisiana Delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention; being elected the state-wide president of the Louisiana Senior Beta Club; and founding the Louisiana High School Democrats.

    Why was this “big” for you? These three accomplishments were “big” to me because of their unlikely nature. For the 2016 DNC, I was only 18 years old, and I was a part of the delegation that featured Governor John Bel Edwards, Congressman Cedric Richmond, Sen. Mary Landrieu and many other prominent political figures from our state.

    For the Beta Club, it was a huge undertaking for everyone involved at my school at the Iberville Math, Science and Arts Academy – East. It took me learning how to mobilize a team around an unlikely campaign. And being the chief executive of a state-wide student organization, caused much media attention that I wasn’t used to. This also presented me what a unique opportunity to serve like I had never before.

    And for the Louisiana High School Democrats, I was happy to found this state-wide organization that got hundreds of young people engaged in the political process. This organization is still operational today and is continuing the work of advancing democratic principles and moving America forward.

    Life aspirations: I am currently majoring in mass communication with a concentration in political communication and minoring in international studies. Upon graduation from LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, I plan to pursue a master’s degree in public policy. Communities are the bedrock of this country, and they often rise or fall together. My goal is to help uplift communities that need it the most, because I believe the quest to perfect our union does not end just because our personal lives and communities are doing well. We are all in this together.

    After completing a master’s program, I hope to earn a law degree to better prepare myself to be an agent of change. In an ever-changing world where globalization is constantly changing the landscape of our daily lives, it will be crucial to have the wherewithal to be able to navigate through new issues as they arise.

    With a master’s degree in public policy, I will be able develop and construct policy decisions that aims to better the lives of others. With a law degree, I will be able to understand and interpret the law in a way that will make me an effective advocate for important issues. And with a mass communication degree, I will be able to communicate in a way that policy analyst will understand as well as the single mother who has little time to pour through tedious policy papers.

    Frederick Bell Jr and Former President Bill Clinton

    Frederick Bell Jr and Former President Bill Clinton

    Furthermore, I am a lover of all things Louisiana and believe our state has its challenges, but potential. It will take a new generation of leadership to lead Louisiana in a new direction. I hope to play a part in this work.

    What is your motto, core belief, or favorite quote? Motto: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

    Core belief: “Do the most good.”

    Favorite quote: “One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world.” –Barack Obama

    Who are you mentors?:  Frederick D. Bell Sr. – Although my father passed away three years ago, when he was with us he instilled in me the will and drive to be as ambitious and determined as I could be. This is part of what drives me to set high goals, and accomplish them.  Christopher J. Tyson has been my mentor for the past year and I asked him to do so because he is on a path similar to one I plan to take. He has gotten a master degree regarding public policy and a law degree from the Georgetown Law Center. He is a law professor at LSU Law Center and ran for Louisiana Secretary of State in 2015. He is a family man with a bright political future. In addition to these activities, he also leads a very active and positive role in his community. He and his work deserve admiration.

    Goals for 2017: Finish my second semester at LSU and become a summer congressional aide for Congressman Cedric Richmond.

    What are you reading? “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The New York TimesThe Advocate, and the New Orleans Times Picayune.

    What music are you listening to? The Weeknd and R&B.

    Hobbies: What do you do for fun? I like to write, spend time with family and friends, and be a total political nerd.

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    Harris, Hogan to serve on state’s domestic violence commission; others named to boards

    Gov. John Bel Edwards has made new appointments to several Louisiana boards and commissions. Announced through a news release Oct 10, the appointees are:

    Fredrick H. Miller Jr., of Kenner, was reappointed to the Kenner Naval Museum Commission. Prior to retiring, Miller worked as a bay foreman for the Northrop Grumman Shipyard in Avondale. He will represent the commission as a resident of Kenner. The Kenner Naval Museum Commission was created to acquire, lease, transport, berth, renovate, equip, operate, maintain and exhibit the aircraft carrier USS Cabot-Dedalo and any other property acquired for use as a permanent naval museum and to adopt rules and regulations for the use of such museum and its properties.

    Leslie J. Hill, of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Volunteer Louisiana Commission. Hill works for the Louisiana Department of Education. She will serve the commission as a designee of the Superintendent of Education. The Volunteer Louisiana Commission serves to encourage community service as a means of community and state problem-solving, promote and support citizen involvement in government and private programs, develop a long-term comprehensive vision and plan for action for community service initiatives in Louisiana, act as the state’s policy-making body for the Corporation on National and Community Service, and serve as the state’s liaison to national and state organizations that support its mission.

    Daphne Y. Washington

    Daphne Y. Washington

    Daphne Y. Washington, of Grambling, was reappointed to the Louisiana Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Washington works as a speech-language pathologist and professional in residence for Louisiana Tech University. She will serve the board as a practicing speech-language pathologist, as required by statute. The Louisiana Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, created by the legislature, provides regulatory authority over persons offering speech-language pathology and audiology services to the public in order to safeguard the public health, safety and welfare; to protect the public from incompetent, unscrupulous and unauthorized persons; and from unprofessional conduct by speech-language pathologists, audiologists and speech-language pathology assistants.

    Robert N. Harwell, of Mangham, was reappointed to the Tensas Basin Levee District. Harwell is the former mayor of Mangham. He will represent Richland Parish. The Tensas Basin Levee District provides flood protection for a large portion of Southeast Arkansas and Northeast Louisiana. The district serves to construct, operate and maintain flood control structures including 434 miles of levee, 361 miles of flood control channels, 135 floodgates, 7 storm water pumping stations and 15 dams (weirs). The district also regulates and permits all activity on or near these flood control works, performs maintenance including mowing levees, repairing levees with earth moving equipment, dredging channels, spraying channels for brush control, performing mechanical repairs to pumping plants, flood gates and heavy equipment.

    Gerald S. LaCour, of Cloutierville, was reappointed to the State Plumbing Board. LaCour works for Bilfinger Industrial Services, Inc. He will represent the board as a journeyman plumber. The State Plumbing Board is responsible for protecting all persons who use and rely upon plumbing and medical gas piping systems for personal or commercial needs, and for affording protection against incompetent, inexperienced or unlawful acts by persons who perform work on plumbing and medical gas piping systems. The board qualifies and examines applicants for plumbers’ licenses and serves, licenses and enforces the law.
    Tamiara L. Wade, Ph.D., of Baton Rouge, was appointed to the Amite River Basin Drainage and Water Conservation District. Wade is a NCAS program manager and Astro Camp program lead at the NASA Stennis Space Center and will serve as a representative of East Baton Rouge Parish. As required by statute, she was nominated by a legislator representing East Baton Rouge Parish.
    The Amite River Basin Drainage and Water Conservation District serves as a multi-parish authority to mitigate flood damage in the Amite River Basin. The Commission works to accomplish flood control measures by facilitating cooperation between federal, state, and local governing bodies to foster floodplain management, maintaining and operating structures built under the auspices of the Commission, and coordinating river management within the basin.

    James R. Corley, D.V.M., of Sunset, was appointed to the Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Corley is the president and owner of Acadiana Equine Hospital. As required by statute, he was nominated by the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association. The Louisiana Board of Veterinary Medicine is responsible for examining and determining the qualifications and fitness of applicants for licenses to practice veterinary medicine in the state. The Board investigates complaints against licensees and disciplines licenses.

     

    Twahna Harris

    Twahna Harris

    Lila Hogan

    Lila Hogan

    Twahna P. Harris, of Baton Rouge, and Lila T. Hogan, of Hammond, were appointed to the Domestic Violence Prevention Commission. Harris is the founder and director of The Butterfly Society Domestic Violence Organization and a membership executive with Girl Scouts of Louisiana East.

    Hogan is an attorney and partner at Hogan Attorneys and was the first director of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services in Hammond. The Domestic Violence Prevention Commission assists local and state leaders in developing and coordinating domestic violence programs. The Commission makes recommendations with respect to domestic violence prevention and intervention and develops a state needs assessment and a comprehensive and integrated service delivery approach that meets the needs of all domestic violence victims.

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    Woman to Watch: Blair Imani Brown

    Last year, when hundreds of students gathered at LSU by candlelight in response to the Mike Brown indictment decision, it was the organizing work of Blair Imani Brown and Peter Jenkins. The event became the catalyst for the group now known as Baton Rouge Organizing, and Brown, Shamaka Schumake, Majdal Ismail, Zandashé Brown, Aryanna Prasad, and Leonela Guzman became co-founders. Soon after, they organized a Die In on LSU’s campus, an #ICantBreathe A Rally for Eric Garner on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol, a rally for Victor White III, a Google Hangout about Freddie Gray, while providing support for events outside of Baton Rouge including a Die In and Solidarity March in Lafayette. They have also organized to push for animal rights and push against homophobia and sexism.

    But those efforts at social justice only seem to reveal the tip of Brown’s passion for equality, giving meaning to the work she has begun around human rights. The budding lawyer said she’s learned how important it is to change policies. “I’m a nerd about the civil rights movement,” she said. “I’m enchanted by it and it’s transferred into an urgency to be part of changing how we think of things through law. The push right now is education because (we) don’t have the ability to initiate public policy.”

    At 21 years old, Brown has stepped up to address the daunting, and often times risky, challenge of fighting for equal rights and fair treatment of all humans. Her demands have lead to her being threatened by email, followed to her apartment, and called a N*gr B. They have also lead to changes at LSU. For one, Brown was able to have the Odell S. Williams African American Museum included on in the Department of History’s internship program.

    “When I found out about the museum was not a part of the program, I was confused and I spoke to professor… What kind of failure of the institution is this?” she said with a laugh. “But I believe it was just miseducation and they sincerely did not know and were not overlooking. It was important that they acknowledged it and willingly corrected it.” Now the university can introduce students to the city’s only public museum dedicated to Black history.

    Through Baton Rouge Organizing, Brown and the other leaders galvanized students to push the LSU police department to change how it identifies suspects on the campus wide alert system. The police would announce that the suspect was a “Black male wearing a hood” and the group used that in a 15-person demonstration on the campus where they wore hoodies and held up signs that stated “He fit the description.” The demonstration included students and the university’s director of diversity. They also sent a letter to the LSU PD requesting that they “respond responsibly”.

    “(We used a) combination of the wide spread social media presence and main stream media and LSU media,” Brown said, “It was something that couldn’t be ignored.” The system now offers more detailed descriptions on campus alerts.

    “Education is the best vehicle for awareness and change,” she said. As her awareness of injustices increased, Brown said she began noticing that the women around the world had similar experiences, “I founded Equality for HER a women’s empowerment organization dedicated to bring awareness to women’s health, education, and rights…and to address the intersections of one’s identities that constitute their being.”

    She has been able to work with women as far away as Latin America, Egypt, and Lagos.

    “I feel that too often we are made to choose one part of identity in order to join a given group. For example there’s often a narrative that I must divorce my heritage as a Black person in order to “focus” on women’s rights or conversely remove my identity as a women in order to work on LGBTQ or minority rights. While this narrative is unfortunately very prominent, I think I have proved it to be false.”

    For that, Blair Brown is a Woman to Watch.
    image

    Blair Imani Brown, 21
    LSU Student
    Founder and President, Equality for HER
    Co-Founder, Baton Rouge Organizing

    Hometown: Pasadena, CA

    Moves made: In January 2014, As I began my efforts with Equality for HER, I simultaneously worked as the assistant organizer of the Louisiana Queer Conference in 2014 with student activist Michael Beyer…I developed an intersectional presentation on dating violence. I was able to do a few presentations at Louisiana State University, develop a web module about Breaking the Cycle on EqualityforHER.com, and provide commentary about Louisiana’s issues with domestic violence for media outlets…After the decision was announced not to indict the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, Peter Jenkins and I used social media to bring the Baton Rouge Community together for a candlelight vigil in less than 24 hours. The Baton Rouge Organizing Facebook group turned into an amazing phenomenon. With Equality for HER, we have just finished our Women’s History Month features where in we feature a variety of multicultural women achievers that have made contributions to our society. However, perhaps the most inspirational endeavor I have been a part of is the work with the family of Victor White III…and getting a petition circulating on Change.org urging the New Iberia coroner to change the cause of death from suicide to homicide. This petition was delivered (to the coroner’s office) on the anniversary of Victor White Iasi’s death. More than a year after his mysterious death we still await justice for Victor White III.

    What to expect from you: This year began with all eyes on Baton Rouge Organizing. We have been able to initiate, sponsor, and promote various protests around many issues. We have held rallies, demonstrations about racial profiling, vigils for “Our Three Winners” Deah, Yusor, and Razan who were victims of Islamophobia. Shortly after the (Victor White III) petition’s delivery, I visited Howard University Law School, and I made the decision to attend there in the fall…Working with Rev. Victor White Sr. and his family has further encouraged me to pursue a legal career, so that much like Attorney Marilyn Mosby, I can be apart of the systematic change required to root out the racism and corruption within the court system…I continue to organize events surrounding social justice issues.

    What music are you dancing to? Anything from Motown Records. I love the empowering message of the protest songs of the ‘60s and ‘70s. I have also found a renewed appreciation for the rap music of the ‘90s.

    What are you reading? “Death of a King” by Tavis Smiley

    Mentors and Role Models: My mother, Kristina Brown, she has taught me strength and resilience. My father, DeWalt Brown, is someone who I also admire because of his commitment to social justice and belief in humanity. The person who I both identify with and aspire to emulate is Attorney General Kamala Harris. I also look up to Representative John Lewis, Dr. Terrence Roberts, and Melissa Harris Perry.

    Personal Resolution: My personal resolution for 2015 is to find a balance between my efforts in social activism and my academic career. I have resolved to take on less projects while cultivating leadership skills in my peers. I have also become committed to being an advocate of causes that I may not directly identify with. I have recently converted to Islam and getting closer to God has given me a lot more strength and helps me give up my fears and worries to him.

    Company Resolution: With Equality for HER, we will be transitioning the brand under the leadership of Sophia Herzog as we work in collaboration while I am starting my first year of law school.

    Life motto: To create and implement change and to advocate for all marginalized people.

    Where to find you online? www.BlairB.com or on LinkedIn.

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    Woman to Watch: Erika Green

    Erika Green prides herself on hanging her shingle out fairly quickly as a lawyer, community activist, and juvenile justice advocate, but she still faces the daunting challenge of balancing a burning desire for community and the demands of private practice.

    “I intentionally try to provide as many resources, programs, and events to my community (in) the north Baton Rouge area,” she said. In fact, Green has led thousands of participants for the MLK Day of Service, BREC’s Black History Program, and political forums.  “I use each organization I am in to promote inclusion and encourage youth. I think that’s the hard part of my life—juggling speaking engagements, community organizing and full time business.”

    After sitting under great mentors and working in two law offices while she was a student at Belaire High school and Southern University Law Center, Green credits her abilities as a successful lawyer and organizer to the consistent training she received throughout her time at Southern.

    She has volunteered in private law firms, the East Baton Rouge Public Defenders Office and gained a strong connection with Juvenile Court. She is a board member of  Gloryland Educational Resource Center, The Butterfly Society, LLC. (A domestic violence nonprofit), and JK Haynes Charter Schools.

    She can be seen actively advocating for justice and equality of services for residents. “I love the city and that’s why I do what I do,” Green said.

    The Baton Rouge native is a family lawyer who doesn’t back down from high-profile criminal juvenile cases or hot-button issues.  For that, she is a Woman to Watch.

    Meet Erika Green, 30:

    Juvenile Criminal Conflict Attorney for the East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Court, family law attorney at the Office of Erika Green, LLC, and Child in Need of Care Attorney with Southeast Legal Services.

    Moves made: Recipient of the Daniel Ellis Byrd Community Service Award by the Louisiana State NAACP Conference; chaired the 3rd Annual MLK Day of Service with more than 1,500 volunteers in the Scotlandville area; organized a high school lecture series on racial profiling, voting, conflict resolution, and the juvenile justice system along with the NAACP Baton Rouge Branch

    What to expect in 2015: Continuing to be an advocate for children in the juvenile system; connecting the North Baton Rouge Community with more programs and services; and co-chairing a city-wide Black Lives Matter Summit Baton Rouge Delta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. on August 22.

    Personal resolution: To use my position—whether it is as an officer in an organization, committee member, or board member—to help produce tangible results and programming that will ultimately effectuate change in this city.

    Life/business motto: “Passion Drives Greatness”

    Business resolution: I desire to grow the consulting portion of my business for nonprofit and faith-based organizations, and do more speaking engagements especially to young people.

    Role Models: Stephanie Brown James. She is young, tapped into community needs and issues, and committed to empowering young women.

    What are you dancing to? Mali Music “Yahweh”; and India Arie “Just Do You”

    What are you reading? “Hard Choices” by Hillary Clinton and “Black Robes, White Justice” by Bruce Wright

    Online: www.eglawoffice.net

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Woman to Watch: Angela Myles

    On any given day, conversations with Greensburg , La. native Angela Myles can veer from excitement about the young 4-H club members she mentors to worry about the unkept community garden tucked away at St. Helena College and Career Academy and  closed for the summer. If you stick around her for a while, the talk moves from one of her nine Godchildren and church VBS plans to a lively discussion on the  extraordinary cattle and goats roaming  small farms throughout St. Helena parish and the teenage farmers preparing to compete in the next statewide livestock show or cookery competition.

    In fact, Myles’ conversations are much like her smile and personality: broad, bright, and full of energy. The 34-year-old extension parish chair supervisor for the LSU Ag Center is working passionately in agriculture–a career many people expected to be replaced by machines and technology. And she’s using the national 4-H model to teach it to a new generation along with lessons on nutrition, technology, rockets, and leadership.

    A self-described farm girl, Myles said she wanted to go to the military but instead earned two degrees from Southern University in agriculture family consumer science and in education leadership. She now plans specialize in youth development and earn a doctorate in education leadership.

    This summer she is teaching a STEM camp,  taking a group of  preteen 4-H’ers camping in Polluck, La.,  and traveling to Baton Rouge with high schoolers who will attend the 4-HU’s Clover College and compete in ATV, computer simulation, and forestry challenges.

    “I love what I do,” said Myles who started her 10-year career at the Southern University Ag Center and the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service as a parent educator then as a youth specialist.

    “My church is where I started being a leader for my community. I would like to thank the late Rev. Stanley J. Carter for his leadership and helping to mold me into the person I am today. I have to tell all of my parents in St. Helena Parish thank you for trusting me with your child and helping me to make this a great program a success for your child and their family,” she said. For that, she is a woman to watch.

    Meet Angela Myles, 34
    Professional title: Parish Chair and associate extension 4-H Agent St. Helena Parish with the LSU Ag Center

    Hometown: Greensburg, LA
    Moves made in 2014: Reached out to youth in areas of, 4-H youth development through livestock, club meetings, Jr. Leader Club, cookery contests, nutrition, gardening, camps, character development, reading literacy projects, STEM projects, and reaching youth through and in schools.

    What to expect from you Expect for youth in St. Helena Parish to live by the 4-H slogan “To Make the Best Better”. We will attend 4-H camp, 4-H U at LSU, STEM Summer Camp, Louisiana Outdoor Skills and Technology (LOST) Camp, Challenge Camp, 4-H club meetings, robotics club meetings, livestock meetings, and character development.

    Personal Resolution: To read a new book every other week with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies. Develop and maintain website for different companies. Donate to a needy organization in the state of Louisiana whether if it’s items, money, or time.

    Professional Resolution: Seek more professional development from the LSU Ag Center.

    Life/business motto: LSU Ag Center Mission Statement: to innovate, to educated and to improve lives. My personal motto is to have a “The sky’s the Limit” approach to life. Never be afraid to dream big and do bigger, you know that you can do anything you set your mind to.

    What music are you dancing to? Gospel, I love to give God praise through singing and dancing!

    What are you reading? The Spirit of Leadership by Myles Munroe 7 Habits of Effective Leaders by Steven Coyey, and The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown.

    Mentors or Role Models: My mother Mary E. Hickerson was my role model until her death in 1990. My other role model was my adoptive mother Margaret P. Overton until her death in 2013. At this point in life, I look up to my oldest sister, Cynthia, for support and advice. I have developed to become my own role model and I consider myself to be a role model to many youth in my community and across the state of Louisiana.

    ONLINE: Rockets to the Rescue featuring Angela Myles.

    Read more »
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    Woman to Watch: Lue Russell

    Lue Russell, Th.D., is a passionate lionhearted woman. As chapter chairwoman of the National Congress of Black Women and state organizer with the PICO National Network, Russell fights for equality, justice, and change within the Black community throughout in Louisiana.  She is also the pastor and executive overseer of ministry fellowship at Hearts of Fire Ministry in Hammond, La.

    Born in Tunica, La., Russell attended Xavier University and Trinity Christian University.  Beyond her formal studies is the conviction she has to help her community grow. 

    “It is not even as simple as ‘I want to be a leading voice.’ It is not and never was my desire. I’d much rather simply be home and be my husband’s wife and my children’s mother, but . . . I am a minister of the gospel and have been called to an assignment and I am answering my call. God has a way of taking you places you can’t even imagine, and he prepares you. He does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” 

    Russell said she finds her joy in answering her call to help the Black community. This has allowed her to create initiatives to meet the needs of her community, and to hold leadership positions in several national as well as local programs. For that, she is a Woman to Watch.

    Meet Apostle Lue Russell, Th.D., 56.  (Read “Called to Fight, serve, and minister” by Hailey Zamora)

    Professional title: Chapter chairwoman, National Congress of Black Women, Greater Baton Rouge Region Chapter, state organizer, The Micah Project/PICO National Network, and founder, Hearts of Fire Ministries and  Hearts of Fire Five Fold Fellowship Alliance where I serve as chairman of the Board.
           
    What music are you dancing to? “God is on Your Side” by Leandria Johnson and Mississippi Mass Choir.  I love Gospel and ‘60s Soul music.  

    What are you reading? The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Fit for YOUR Assignment by Reina Olmeda

    Mentors or Role Models: Dr. E. Faye Williams, Prophetess Debra Morton

    Moves made : Appointed statewide Organizer for Micah Project and PICO National Network working to organize people of faith around social issues that affect families of color in Louisiana particularly childhood obesity and mass incarceration.  

    Appointed Host Committee Chairwoman, for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and was instrumental in securing this Conference to be held in Baton Rouge July 23-26, 2015.

    Organized and structured the Greater Baton Rouge Region Chapter of the National Congress of Black Women

    Organized, coordinated and hosted a Summit on the State of Families of Color in Louisiana at Southern University Feb 27, 2015.  Work began in 2014 including the commission and oversight of a study by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Southern University that verified the structured injustice and deep rooted racist inequalities that drives many of the problems in communities of color.  The Summit was called to develop solutions to the problems the study revealed.

    What to expect from you: I will be working to organize a Clergy Table of Leaders that will serve as the voice of the people of Baton Rouge as we prepare to address unjust public policy and laws that govern mass incarceration in this state.  At the same time I will be working to mobilize congregations and pastors to work with their members and community to prepare them to vote by assuring they are registered, trained on how to vote and then transport them to voting polls.  Teaching as many as we can reach the necessity of voting that we can build power across this state.

    Will continue my work with the National Congress of Black Women to move forward in serving Black women and their children by removing or addressing barriers that prevent families of color from doing well.  Our focus is to assure that all communities of Louisiana have healthy children and thriving families.

    Celebrating my 10-year pastoral anniversary May 31, 2015.

    Personal Resolution: My personal resolution is to continue to march for justice, to love and enjoy family and friends as much as possible and to stand with my husband, Rev. Terry Russell, in our ministry and works across the state.  To spend as much time as possible with my two daughters, an attorney and a network administrator.

    Business/Company Resolution :
    To build our Chapter of the National Congress of Black Women to be one of the most impactful and active chapters in the country.  To create a movement for justice as I work to organize faith leaders across the state and to reach souls for Christ through our ministry, Hearts of Fire!

    Life/business motto: Success is to be measured not so much by what one has attained in life as to the obstacles he has had to overcome while trying to succeed recognizing that only what you do for Christ shall last.

    Where to find you online?
    Dr. Lue Russell on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

    Read more »
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    Woman to Watch: Sevetri M. Wilson

    Throughout Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Sevetri Wilson is quickly becoming the business leader who needs no introduction. Not because of the uniqueness of her name–which means “of royalty”–but because of the aggressive growth of her company, Solid Ground Innovations LLC, and its vast list of successful projects.

    She has been named a top 40 under 40 by both the Baton Rouge Business Report and the Baton Rouge Black Professionals Association. Her work has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration and included in USA Today, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Inc Magazine, and ESPN.

    image

    Sevetri Wilson

    Wilson and the SGI team manages strategic projects for the Tyrus Thomas Foundation, CC’s Coffeehouse, Aetna Better Health of Louisiana, Chicken Shack, Simple Joe’s Cafe, First Financial of Baton Rouge, and BR MetroMorphosis–to name a few.

    While, Wilson generally stays quiet on most projects until they are completed, she recently shared with her 8,500-plus social media followers that SGI is beginning a “new journey” and used hashtags #newproducts and #techstartups.

    She is an accomplished musician, a sought-after business branding consultant, and strategist who manages capital campaigns, sports philanthropy, and event planning, among a slew of other services.

    For this, she is a woman to watch. Meet Sevetri Wilson, 29

    Professional title: CEO, Solid Ground Innovations, LLC

    Hometown: Hammond, LA

    Resident: Dual Residency in Baton Rouge and New Orleans

    What music are you dancing to? When I want to dance around my home, maybe while cleaning or something, I always turn on Whitney Houston’s “I Want to Dance with Somebody”

    What are you reading? I am currently reading “Leaning into Leadership”.(She set a goal to read one business book a month for 2015 and shared her reading list at http://www.sevetriwilson.com/sgireads2015/ )

    Mentors or Role Models: My mother, Shirley M. Wilson, is and will always be my #1 role model

    Moves made in 2014/Accomplishments: Started a spin off tech start-up from one of our company’s service lines was in my opinion my accomplishment. In addition, for the fifth consecutive year, I continued the upward growth of my company in revenues and staff. In 2014, our company, SGI, celebrated five years in business. I suppose I could talk about some of the awards and recognitions but truly without those accomplishments, I would not even be recognized.

    <em>Personal Resolution: Try to balance work and life to the best of my ability

    Business/Company Resolution: Continue to grow quality clientele and sales, continue to innovate our service lines, and ensure operations work for our team members to execute to the highest of our capability.

    Life/business motto: When all else fails, do what is right.

    Where to find you online? You can find me via all social media platforms at @sevetriwilson ; organizations can also book me for speaking engagements via my website at www.sevetriwilson.com

    Read more »
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    Woman to Watch: Alma C. Stewart

    With the Louisiana Legislative session in active mode, this health care advocate is busy mobilizing Louisiana citizens and elected officials around all health equity issues from funding the Affordable Health Care Act, expanding Medicaid, and improving citizen’s access to health services.

    When Louisiana legislators in both the House and Senate Health and Wellness committees voted against two bills that would expand Louisiana’s Medicaid program so the working poor could get government-funded health insurance, Alma C. Stewart was there along with several hundred other advocates.

    In fact, if there is a conversation on state or national health care policies, Alma Stewart, is in the room or leading the discussion. For that, she is a Woman to Watch.

    Meet Alma C. Stewart
    Age: A Baby Boomer.

    Professional title: President and Founder of Louisiana Center for Health Equity and talk show host of “Today’s Health Topics” (which airs on WTQT 106.1FM every Monday at 7pm). I am also the CEO and owner of A. Charles Stewart Consultants.

    Organization: Louisiana Center for Health Equity
    The Louisiana Center for Health Equity works to address the increasing disparities in health and health care across Louisiana. A statewide nonpartisan, nonprofit IRS 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt, organization established in January 2010, LCHE is the only statewide non-profit organization in Louisiana with a mission solely of addressing disparities.

    Hometown: Natchitoches, LA, the “City of Lights,” and reared in Germany during the sixties.

    Moves made in 2014/Accomplishments: I lead two phenomenal collaborative initiatives. Over the past two years, I have organized the Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone – Louisiana, a broad diverse group of organizations and individuals fighting for expanded access to healthcare for ALL Louisianans. The Campaign is leading policy advocacy and grassroots efforts to close the coverage gap by allowing low income, mostly working, adults to obtain healthcare insurance through federal Medicaid funds as authorized by the Affordable Care Act. I also convened the Together We Are More Adolescent Health Collaborative, a community effort that implemented the inaugural Youth Peace Olympics to promote healthy living and help curb youth violence in Baton Rouge.

    What to expect from you in 2015? I am very pleased that the Louisiana Center for Health Equity will be celebrating our fifth anniversary. This is a monumental milestone for an organization that is making an impact throughout the state of Louisiana. Our Anniversary Celebration will highlight LCHE’s accomplishments. We will continue building momentum for better access to healthcare and closing the coverage gap, and addressing inequalities that affect individuals and families in Louisiana.

    Personal Resolution: To live a lifestyle that praises Jesus Christ and to enjoy His blessings, especially my family and friends.

    Company Resolution: To work to improve healthcare and health outcomes in Louisiana with a focus on inequalities through collaboration, community engagement, education and advocacy.

    Life motto: To joyfully and diligently be of service as a resourceful resilient advocate for health equity in Louisiana.

    What music are you dancing to? Variety

    What are you reading? Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History 1513 – 2008 by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. This book intrigued me because it is such a thorough historical collection. Initially, I was especially interested in learning more about what I missed as a child during the sixties when my family and I lived overseas because it was during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. I believe understanding history is important, especially for our youth.

    Mentors or Role Models: I have been fortunate to have people throughout my life that encouraged and coached me in different areas that were and still are enormously helpful. There are several people whose advice I value and seek for various purposes. Those who probably have the most influence are those who share spiritual wisdom and guidance as I strive to be Christ led.

    Watch her online at www.lahealthequity.org and or on facebook as alma.stewart.39

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    Men to Watch: Leroy ‘Bro. Jay’ Vallot, 50s

    Media Activist with Reel Talk Radio Show, Digital Soul Media, and Community Defender TV Show

    Location: Lafayette, LA

    Moves made in 2014: successful radio talk show on KJCB and also getting access to more events for the TV show

    What to expect in 2015: more dynamic guests and interviews for media

    Personal Resolution for 2015: finish open projects

    Business/Company Resolution for 2015: mentoring / educating our young people about acquiring our own media outlets

    Life/business motto: “Information is Power!”

    Mentors: My father Leroy Vallot Sr.and TV producer Khadijah Assata Rashad on Community Defender

    What music are you dancing to? R&B, Southern Soul and old school

    Online: www.digitalsoulmedia.net

     

    Louisiana is home for many talented, intellectual, cultured, and politically savvy people. THE DRUM staff and editors have identifi ed the people to watch in 2015 from Ponchatoula and Hammond to Baton Rouge and Lafayette. We introduce them to you here and encourage you to follow these leaders. Read about them all at MEN TO WATCH 2015.

     

    Read more »
  • Men to Watch: Chancelier ‘xero’ Skidmore, 43

    Executive Director of Forward Arts in Baton Rouge

    Hometown: Plaquemine, LA

    Role Models: My mother, Patty Smith, Dr. Ray Sibley, Gerri Hobdy, Dr. Susan Weinstein, Anna West, Mary West, Gaylynne Mack, Renee Chatelain, Sam Singleton, Dr. Isaac Greggs, Thandor Miller, Paul Griffi n, Laura Mullen, Mike Foster.

    Moves made in 2014: I finished writing a book, “upBEAT DOWNbeat”. It’s a collection of poems about my life as a musician.  I also starting writing commercials for a media company.

    What to expect in 2015: I plan to get back into competing as a slam poet and start writing another book.

    Personal Resolution for 2015: I make resolutions more often than once a year, but my latest one was to publish the manuscript I wrote.

    Business/Company Resolution for 2015: Continue to foster personal and social transformation through critical engagement and creative practice.

    Life/business motto: Everyone is doing their best, with what they know.

    What music are you dancing to? I listen to lots of classic/contemporary soul. Right now, my favorite album is “Black Messiah” by D’Angelo.

    What are you reading? I just started on “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age Of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander; “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson; and “God Is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens.

    Online: www.xeroskidmore.com

     

    Louisiana is home for many talented, intellectual, cultured, and politically savvy people. THE DRUM staff and editors have identifi ed the people to watch in 2015 from Ponchatoula and Hammond to Baton Rouge and Lafayette. We introduce them to you here and encourage you to follow these leaders. Read about them all at MEN TO WATCH 2015.

    Read more »
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    Men to Watch: Donney Rose

    Program Director/Teaching Artist

    Forward Arts, Inc. in Baton Rouge

    Moves made in 2014: Organization granted official 501(c)3 status, coached Baton Rouge National Poetry Slam, and was published and featured in Nicholls State universty’s literary journal, Gris Gris.

    What to expect in 2015: Chapbook of poetry, “The Crying Buck,” which deals with Black masculinity/vulnerability; the facilitation of Black Men Talk Baton Rouge, an African-American male dialogue group which will serve as a physical space to host regular discussions on various issues affecting the Black community locally and abroad

    Personal Resolution for 2015: To take care of my body as I have been recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; to continue to move my art/voice forward by taking on that which isn’t always comfortable.

    Business/Company Resolution for 2015: To continue to effectively serve in my role as program director for Forward Arts and to help shape it into one of the premier youth arts organization/literary arts organization in the country.

    Life/business motto: Plan for tomorrow but don’t feel entitled to it. Make the present count.

    Role Models: Xero Skidmore, Anna West, Sue Weinstein, and Ava Haymon

    What music are you dancing to? Grooving currently to “Black Messiah” by D’Angelo

    What are you reading? mostly news editorials, blogs and random books of poetry

    Online: www.donneryrose.com

     

    Louisiana is home for many talented, intellectual, cultured, and politically savvy people. THE DRUM staff and editors have identifi ed the people to watch in 2015 from Ponchatoula and Hammond to Baton Rouge and Lafayette. We introduce them to you here and encourage you to follow these leaders. Read about them all at MEN TO WATCH 2015.

    Read more »
  • Men to Watch: Bishop Samuel McGill, 42

    Presiding Bishop All Nations Church

    International in Hammond, LA

    CEO of All Nations Radio, LLC.

    Moves made in 2014: Launched All Nations Radio which sky-rocketed to being the #1 Gospel Internet Radio Station and received 2015 Stellar Award Nomination for Internet Radio Station of the Year first ever for Hammond, LA and we hope to bring the award to Hammond, LA in March of 2015.

    What to expect in 2015: In 2015 we expect All Nations Radio to launch the fi rst live gospel morning show in Hammond which will highlight a business spotlight of the week which is design to bring awareness to every business in the Northshore by having a business representative to be live on the morning to share about their business and how it impacts the community.

    Personal Resolution for 2015: To be an even better husband, father and pastor.

    Business Resolution for 2015: To continue to build grow an awesome multicultural congregation with All Nations Church International and also to have All Nations Radio be the station that touches hearts through top quality gospel music and Christian programming that reaches the world and puts Hammond, LA on the map around the world. Also to have all of Hammond and the entire Northshore with our free app for All Nations Radio on the phones and devices as is our goal for the entire world, truly being All Nations Radio.

    Life/business motto: “Real Ministry For Real People” is our church motto. “Going Out Into All The World With The Best In Gospel Music” is our radio station motto. My life motto is “What you went through didn’t make you bitter it only made you better.”

    Role Models: Bishop Charles H. Ellis, III

    What music are you dancing to? I don’t dance

    What are you reading? “Homiletics” by Prof. M. Reu D.D.

    Online: www.allnationsradio.net

     

    Louisiana is home for many talented, intellectual, cultured, and politically savvy people. THE DRUM staff and editors have identifi ed the people to watch in 2015 from Ponchatoula and Hammond to Baton Rouge and Lafayette. We introduce them to you here and encourage you to follow these leaders. Read about them all at MEN TO WATCH 2015.

    Read more »
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    Men to Watch: Lemar Marshall, 54

    Hammond City Councilman-District 4

    Practice Administrator at North Oaks Obstetrics & Gynecology, LLC 

    Location: Hammond, LA

    Moves made in 2014: Re-elected to the Hammond City Council; started the Hammond Youth Education Alliance; Became a White-Riley-Peterson Fellow studying after-school policy at the Riley Institute at Furman University; started two pilot sites for the launch of our citywide after-school program; was honored by Southeastern Louisiana University College of Education for my commitment to education improvement in Hammond; and served as head coach for U11 Hammond Hurricanes Basketball and won five, fi rst place awards during our 2014 season.

    What to expect in 2015: Just recently was honored by the Tangipahoa Public Library with the 2015 Service Award. I plan to be a very successful on the Council. I want to see us implement a citywide afterschool program for middle and junior high level students. I will be working on several ordinances to enhance the overall quality of life in Hammond communities, and I will support the work needed to be done to start a Greenville Park Revitalization Initiative.

    Personal Resolution for 2015: Stick to a healthier lifestyle, lose 40 pounds, and spend more time with my family.

    Business Resolution for 2015: Accomplish our NCQA National Committee for Quality Assurance Certifi cation.

    Life/business motto: It does not matter who makes the decision as long as it is the right one.

    Role Models: My grandmother and Uncle Sam Rouse

    What music are you dancing to? Stuck in the ’80s

    What are you reading? “How Children Succeed” by Paul Tough

    ONLINE: www.facebook.com/lemar.marshall

     

    Louisiana is home for many talented, intellectual, cultured, and politically savvy people. THE DRUM staff and editors have identifi ed the people to watch in 2015 from Ponchatoula and Hammond to Baton Rouge and Lafayette. We introduce them to you here and encourage you to follow these leaders. Read about them all at MEN TO WATCH 2015.

    Read more »
  • Men To Watch: Nathan Haymer, 36

    Southern University Director of Bands

    Location: Baton Rouge

    Moves made in 2014: Named director of one of the most famous marching bands in the nation. Assisted with The Southern University Marching Band’s Documentary, “The Band Plays On” produced by The Rouge Collection Magazine in partnership with the SU Band. The documentary explores the exciting history, challenges, legacy and current day issues of the SU Band. It truly reveals why the Southern University Human Jukebox Marching Band is celebrated as a national treasure. This documentary is for those who are interested in history, music, Louisiana culture and just an exciting time.

    What to expect in 2015: I expect to lead a band that achieved just about everything imaginable to the next level through a rigorous marketing and branding efforts

    Personal Resolution for 2015: Seize the day!

    Business/Company Resolution for 2015: Capitalize on every opportunity to market the SU Band

    Life/business motto: You can’t be as good as, but better than!

    Role Models:: Lawrence Jackson, retired SU Director of Bands, and former Congressman Cleo Fields

    What music are you dancing to? As a musician I dance and move to the beat of various genres of music and lead the world renowned SU Human Jukebox Marching Band. Human Jukebox was coined from our ability to play many many genres of music

    What are you reading? The Advocate and The Rouge Collection Magazine

    Online:www.humanjukebox.com

    Louisiana is home for many talented, intellectual, cultured, and politically savvy people. THE DRUM staff and
    editors have identifi ed the people to watch in 2015 from Ponchatoula and Hammond to Baton Rouge and
    Lafayette. We introduce them to you here and encourage you to follow these leaders. Read about them all at MEN TO WATCH 2015.

    Read more »
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    Men To Watch: John Gray Jr, 34

    Musician with Continuum Music Educator at The Dunham School

    Location: Baton Rouge

    Moves made in 2014: Baton Rouge Symphony’s Teacher of the Year; The Links Role Model of the Year; Selected to the 2015 class of the BR Chamber Leadership program; and Louisiana Magazine’s Louisianan of the Year.

    What to expect in 2015: Looking forward to another great festival season with my students. Spring semester is what I like to call our football season for the various bands that I direct at the Dunham School; Also looking forward to recording a new album with The Michael Foster Project.

    Personal Resolution for 2015: Find more balance in my personal and professional lives….connect with family and friends more….invest more in the culture of Baton Rouge and South Louisiana.

    Business/Company Resolution for 2015: Develop a tighter advertising marketing game plan for reoccurring projects and raise the level of professionalism in every aspect of our business dealings.

    Life/business motto: If my life was a book or a movie, I’d like for it to be interesting and inspiring enough for people to read or watch it! So everyday, I’ve got to work, play, and love with passion and discipline!

    Role Models: Alvin Batiste, my parents, and too many more to mention What music are you dancing to? AS OF NOW, I’m jammin to D’Angelo’s new album “Black Messiah”

    What are you reading?
    “FREAKONOMICS: The Hidden Side of Everything” by Steven Levitt and Steven Dubner

    Online: www.jgrayjazz.com

     

    Louisiana is home for many talented, intellectual, cultured, and politically savvy people. THE DRUM staff and editors have identifi ed the people to watch in 2015 from Ponchatoula and Hammond to Baton Rouge and Lafayette. We introduce them to you here and encourage you to follow these leaders. Read about them all at MEN TO WATCH 2015.

    Read more »
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    Men to Watch 2015

     

     

     

     

     

    Louisiana is home for many talented, intellectual, cultured, and politically savvy people. THE DRUM staff and editors have identified the people to watch in 2015 from Ponchatoula and Hammond to Baton Rouge and Lafayette. We introduce them to you here and encourage you to follow them.

     

     

     

    John Gray Jr, 34john gray web
    Professional title: Musician with Continuum Music
    Educator at The Dunham School
    Location: Baton Rouge
    Read more about John

     

     

     

    Nathan B. Haymer, 36Nathan Haymer
    Professional title: Director of Bands
    Organization: Southern University
    Location: Baton Rouge
    Read more about Nathan

     

     

     

    Lemar Franklin Marshall, 52Lemar MArshall
    Professional title: Hammond City Councilman-District 4/Practice Administrator
    Organization: City of Hammond/North Oaks Obstetrics & Gynecology, LLC
    Location: Hammond
    Read more about Lemar

     

     

     

    Bishop Samuel McGill III, 42sAMUEL mCgILL
    Professional title: Presiding Bishop and CEO of All Nations Radio, LLC.
    Organization: All Nations Church International & All Nations Radio
    Location: Hammond and Ponchatoula
    Read more about Samuel

     

     

     

    Donney Rose, 34donney Rose
    Professional title: Program Director/Teaching Artist
    Organization: Forward Arts, Inc.
    Hometown: Baton Rouge
    Read more about Donney

     

     

     

    Chancelier “xero” Skidmore, 43Xero
    Title: Executive Director
    Organization: Forward Arts
    Hometown: Plaquemine, LA
    Read more about xero

     

     

     

    Leroy “Bro. Jay” Vallot, 50s Leroy Vallot
    Professional title: Media Activist
    Organization: Real Talk Radio Show, Digital Soul Media, and Community Defender TV Show
    Location: Lafayette, LA
    Read more about Leroy

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  • ,

    WHO TO WATCH: Attorney Alfreda Bester

    There is never a typical day for Alfreda Tillman Bester.

    She is the people’s lawyer.

    But let her tell you, while it helps others, she believes that her legal work also brings her closer to God. “Whatever I’m able to do to help someone who doesn’t have a voice or doesn’t know how to navigate the system is my blessing,” she said. “It is a commitment that I have to the community that I can only say is a gift that God gave me,” she continued. “I love what I do because I get to help people resolve conflicts. It’s a blessing for me and it’s a ministry to me.” And it’s something she said she’s always known she’s wanted to do, except for the intermission of a brief childhood dream to become a physician.

    Incidentally, she credits Sunday school for teaching her everything she knows about life and human interaction, preparing her for a career in law. And also instilling the notion that there is a remedy for lack of knowledge and so she went forth, earning an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, MBA from McNeese State University, and juris doctorate from Southern University Law Center. All of the education coupled with her communal-caring has led her to tackle some of Baton Rouge’s biggest issues.

    The most notable of her recent work is the fight to preserve representative government at the East Baton Rouge Parish school board. That task included a lawsuit to maintain the districts as they were and continual opposition of the reduction in the number of school board districts.

    As an attorney, Bester said she agrees with the popular American idiom “freedom is not free,” and in regards to her community, warns that it is an easily forgettable phrase when one doesn’t understand rights. “You have to learn what your rights are and you have to know how to assert them,” she said. “If you don’t have someone to be that voice for you, then you need to find an organization.” Bester, who works with the NAACP, said the group, popular for its civil rights era work, is the organization to help.

    “We work for people who have no voice,” she said. “Everyone associates the NAACP with representing the rights of only Black people and that is just not the case.” Bester also encourages the community to lay its own groundwork, assuring that there is a task for everyone who is willing to improve their surroundings, be it letter-writing or making phone calls. “It’s about us becoming the village again,” she said. “Understanding that we are our brother’s keeper and until everyone – everyone in the community is free – until everyone has the rights that every other person has, none of us will be free.”

    And in restoring that village, Bester said it’s important not to wait to consult an attorney, but to call as soon as conflict arises.

    By Leslie D. Rose
    The Drum Newspaper

    Read more »
  • WHO TO WATCH: Myeshia Carter

    MYESHIA CARTER IS A 22-YEAR-old native of Baton Rouge. She grew up in a single parent home with seven siblings, where she was number six of her mother’s eight children.

    Growing up, Carter’s family was not always financially stable as they had to live on Section 8 Housing and other forms of government assistance for the majority of their lives.

    Carter did not come from a strong educational background neither her mother nor her six older siblings finished high school. Noticing this constant cycle of school drop outs, her siblings becoming single parents at young ages, and living on government as- sistance, at age 14, Carter decided she would break that cycle.

    She became the first of her sib- lings to attend high school. At Belaire High School, Carter was able to do extracurricular activities like play in the band and be on the slam poetry team. It is on the slam poetry team that she found an outlet, a way to let go of the pent up worries and anger about her home life.

    Writing poetry became Carter’s refuge as she let the world know her story. She became one of the six slam poets from Baton Rouge to compete nationally at Brave New Voices for two years consecutively. Competing at Brave New Voices gave Carter a chance to leave Ba- ton Rouge and travel throughout the United States where she was introduced to so many different people.

    That was the defining moment for her because she saw that there was a whole world out there waiting for her to explore and learn from. Travel- ing to these different places helped her to figure out that she wanted to leave Baton Rouge for college to learn more about the diverse world around her and find her place in it.

    During her se- nior year of high school, she became a fellow of the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, where she was able to have men- tors to help her prepare for college and had access to resources she needed. With constant support from the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, her lifelong mentor Daniel Kahn, the poetry slam team and her peers, Carter became the first of her seven siblings to graduate high school in 2010. But gradu- ating high school was only the beginning as she had other ambitions and bigger milestones to complete.

    Carter also became the first of her siblings to attend college, and to that, she attended one of the top Historically Black Colleges in America, Howard University, where she was an English major and business minor. At Howard, she pursued her dream of working in Corporate America as she spent some time at Google after her freshman year and also worked for PepsiCo Beverages Company as a sales intern her sophomore and junior years.

    After being denied the full internship with Google in their sales department, Carter did not allow that to stop her from achieving her goal to work in Corporate America. She reached out to an organization in her network called INROADS. INROADS is a program that helps minority students get into Corporate America by partnering with different companies.

    Through INROADS, Carter was afforded an interview with PepsiCo. Through each year in college and working for PepsiCo, she realized that it did not matter where she came from, that she did not have to be a product of her environment, and that she is limitless when it comes to defining success.

    On May 10, Carter graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. In July, she will take on her full time role as a sales associate at PepsiCo Beverages Company in New Orleans.

    Graduating college has been one of the biggest accomplishments of her life as she looks back to where she was in the past to where she is now.

    She is very humble that she had programs and peo- ple in her extended family network to motivate and push her. Her goal is to become CEO of a multibillion-dollar company and to be a great entrepreneur. She lives by the saying – “you are limitless for you are the only person who can keep you achieving greater heights.”

    Carter is looking forward to a promising future as she has many more milestones to reach, and she will do so confidently.

    Read more »
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