Celebrating 500 issues

Page 1

THE DRUM Because coMMunity news Matters


CommemoratiVe issue 2018


numBer 502

500 issues



with THE DRUM publishers Carrie and eddie ponds

unity leads to spiritual growth for churches, page 9

drumroll, page 7

x please see, pg 8

Congratulations to Mr. Eddie Ponds and The Drum 500+ issues of community news for Ponchatoula and Baton Rouge

Mayor Bob Zabbia cityofponchatoula.com

empowering others with hiV, page 11

2 www.thedrumnewspaper.info / speCiaL CommemoratiVe 2018



eddie PondS Founding PubliSher

CArrIe PONDS assistant publisher



City News Editor


Community Reporters and Writers




pagination/Design Katrina ellis edwards photographers


Editorial Assistant



Executive producer Let’s Talk About it: The Ed Show


News deadline: Sundays at 8pm news@thedrumnewspaper.info

phone: (225) 927-3717 ~ (985) 351-0813







– Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome



Thank you for significantly publishing community news

“I know how miserable traffic is in our city – and just like you I hate wasting time sitting in it. My MOVEBR plan is the largest transportation infrastructure project in our history. Please vote YES to MOVEBR on December 8th. It’s time to get Baton Rouge moving.”


speCiaL CommemoratiVe 2018 / www.thedrumnewspaper.info

the opinions found in the drumCall section reflect the ideas of the writer and are not endorsed by the editors or publishers of THE DRUM. to participate in monthly contest, select the sign up button on facebook.com/ thedrumnews. submissions to THE DRUM may be edited for space and clarity and are published at the discretion of the editorial staff. Books and product samples should be mailed to po Box 318013, Baton rouge, La, 70831, attn: eddie ponds twitter: @thedrumnews facebook: thedrumnews iG:thedrumnews member of new american media, Louisiana Black publishers association, national newspaper publishers association, the Jozef syndicate, Citizens resource network, and the Louisiana press association

© 2018 ponds enterprises LLC

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The Louisiana Press Association represents newspapers, news websites, magazines, specialty publications—and the people who publish them in every parish. On behalf of its board of directors and its members, I want to say happy birthday to The Drum’s founding publisher, Eddie Ponds, on his 80th birthday and to congratulate The Drum on publishing its 500th issue. Both are significant milestones that deserve to be commemorated. Both Mr. Ponds and the druM have accomplished much


over these past many years, and both have contributed significantly to the community they serve. Best wishes to Mr. Ponds and to the druM in the years ahead.  Will Chapman Executive Director

Victory! BR citizens speak up, rogue cop is rejected we conSider it a Victory that on November 11, 2018, the citizens of Baton Rouge were able to join with others and stop a rogue--violent cop--from speaking in the city. This victory speaks volumes for us at a time when we have not heard of any justice in the

Alton Sterling case. In fact, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund credited the citizens of Baton Rouge, various leaders, BRPD Chief Murphy Paul, and District Attorney Hillar Moore for stopping a

former Oklahoma cop Betty Shelby from speaking at the 2018 Southeastern Homicide Investigators Association Conference. On September 16, 2016, Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old motorist, was shot and killed by police officer Betty Jo Shelby in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was unarmed. She was acquitted of first-de® gree manslaughter in the shooting and retired months later. She was invited to speak at Save 75%* on the conference about, “Surviving Omaha Steaks the Aftermath of a Critical Incident”. The NAACP sent a letter Friday to the Association expressing concerns, and Baton Rouge activists called on the community to email the association and demand The Family Gourmet Feast that they uninvited Shelby. When 2 (5 oz.) Filet Mignons the association did, the NAACP Plus, 4 more 2 (5 oz.) Top Sirloins Legal Defense and Educational Burgers 2 (4 oz.) Boneless Pork Chops Fund released a statement thankFREE 4 Boneless Chicken Breasts (1 lb. pkg.) ing the Baton Rouge “for stand4 (3 oz.) Kielbasa Sausages ing firm and speaking out,” wrote 4 (4 oz.) Omaha Steaks Burgers 4 (3 oz.) Potatoes au Gratin Sherrilyn Ifill is president and 4 (4 oz.) Caramel Apple Tartlets director-counsel of the NAACP OS Seasoning Packet Legal Defense and Educational 55586WZJ Fund, Inc. $ 99 $199.91* separately Combo Price Let’s keep speaking up and *Savings shown over aggregated single item base price. Limit 2 55586 pkgs. Your 4 free burgers will be sent to each shipping address that includes being vigilant, Louisiana. Baton 55586. Standard S&H will be added per address. Flat rate shipping and reward cards and codes cannot be used with this offer. Not valid with other offers. Expires 2/28/19. All purchases acknowledge acceptance of Omaha Steaks, Inc. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Visit omahasteaks.com/ Rouge can be a model of peace terms-of-useOSI and omahasteaks.com/info/privacy-policy or call 1-800-228-9872 for a copy. ©2018 OCG | Omaha Steaks, Inc. | 18M1531 and justice.  1-855-521-2195 ask for 55586WZJ a.g. duVall ii www.OmahaSteaks.com/love74 baton rouge

Give a little



speCiaL CommemoratiVe 2018 / www.thedrumnewspaper.info

4 www.thedrumnewspaper.info / speCiaL CommemoratiVe 2018


perfect time for dialogue on neglected mental health issues x by

Vernon a. williaMS

black PreSS uSa

there iS no PerFect tiMe to bring up this subject. But this is as good of a time as any. You would have to be literally living under a rock to ignore it. Mental health challenges in America are increasing at a meteoric rate. Traditionally, the holiday season can be stressful for any American. It’s much worse for those who already have issues. In this column, I want to do two things. First, we will examine good advice for anyone to adhere to during this season of the year. Secondly, let’s take a look at the tender, loving care needed for those who struggle throughout the year. Here are the tips for the general public when it comes to avoiding the holiday blues: • Stick as closely as possible to normal routines. • Make sure you get ad-

equate sleep and rest. • Take time for yourself, but don’t isolate yourself. Spend time with supportive and caring people. • Eat and drink in moderation. The last thing you want to do is turn to alcohol, or drugs, for a boost. • Get in a little exercise even if you normally don’t. Do the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Park farther than closer at the mall. Take short walks. For each day, stay organized by a “to do” list. Outside distractions and extra activities can complicate life. This can help keep it together. Set reasonable goals and expectations for holiday activities such as shopping, cooking, entertaining, and partying. Overplanning sets you up for failure. Set a budget from the outset

ment will pass and – for everything. life will return to a How much to spend closer state of noron eating out? How malcy. Even then, much to spend on these are good rules entertainment? to follow to maintain Gift purchases? that necessary balDon’t overdo it. ance. Carve out some “me too” time. Get And whatever you away to yourself do, don’t let people and listen to music make you feel bad or find other ways williaMS for any reason. Someto exhale. Relaxtimes imagination ation is key to balcan become the most ance during a time formidable barrier between of hustle and bustle. Never compare what you do our thought process and true or don’t do, to others. If some- peace of mind. Sometimes they one you know well is doing way – whoever they may be – really more, getting way more, giving aren’t talking about you. And way more, let them do them. even if “they” are, in the end, You do you. Holiday joy is not what does it matter. Keep in mind that people a competitive sport. When we ignore sensibili- who care about you most are ties, the risk of fatigue, tension, those you should care about loneliness, sadness, loss, frus- most. Resist the temptation to be tration and isolation become real. Just let go and let it flow. weighed down in fear during Remember this mo-

x please see hoLidaY, pg 15


Read these headlines at theDrumNewspaper.info

Crump, other attorneys fight HIV-drug maker

You know your FAMILY. We know SENIOR LIVING. Together, we will find the RIGHT PLACE. INDEPENDENT LIVING • ASSISTED LIVING • MEMORY CARE A Place for Mom has helped over a million families find senior living solutions that meet their unique needs. Our Advisors are trusted, local experts who can help you understand your options. Here’s what’s included with our free service:

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A federal lawsuit filed agains tGilead Sciences accuses the drug maker of intentionally withholding safer HIV drugs. Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump and other partners assert that Gilead is withholding a safer HIV drug from hundreds of thousands of patients in order to extend the profitability of the patent it held on an older, more risky drug. The tactic, Crump said, unjustly affected patients in the Black, minority, and LGBT communities.  Read more online.

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Joan Lunden, journalist, former host of Good Morning America and senior living advocate.

ViaAir now offers low-fare, nonstop flights from BTR to Austin and Orlando-Sanford.

Ponchatoula celebrates student outreach program

V ISIT The City of Ponchatoula again participated in the national “Lights On Afterschool” event with its “Family & Friends Night” at the Ponchatoula Community Center for a time of celebrating the growth and positive results of its own after-school program. Read more online.


Congratulations to THE DRUM on publishing 500 issues!



STATE Gov. John Bel Edwards hosted a reception to launch the start of the Council on the Success of Black Men and Boys. Edwards signed legislation creating the Council, Act 103, during the 2018 Regular Legislative Session earlier this year. The bill was authored by State Rep. Ted James of Baton Rouge. “I am excited that we are beginning the important work before us because we understand all of our children need champions,” said Edwards. “These members have been charged with recommending ways in which we can grow pathways of opportunity for more of our children to pursue higher education, develop job skills that are in high demand, connect with careers that can sustain families for a lifetime and live lives that they can be proud of.” The Council will issue its first report by February 2019.


Longtime radio personality and community activist Janelle Chargois, who was the smooth voice of one of Acadiana’s radio’s signature shows, “The Open Line”, on KJCB 770-AM, died Friday, following a lengthy illness, family and friends of Chargois confirm. She was 68. Before her retirement in 2016, Chargois was the station’s CAO, General Manager, and a radio personality. She started Lafayette’s first Martin Luther King Jr. parade, the annual African American History Parade and was the first African American woman to receive the Louisiana Association of Broadcaster Gold Mic Award.


The City of Ponchatoula is updating its adjudicated property auction processes

by implementing the proven technologies of CivicSource, the leading online auctioneer of tax-distressed real estate. CivicSource has provided the City of Ponchatoula with an online tax certificate sale platform since 2011. The City’s new adjudicated property auction platform will be an invaluable asset to the City, improve existing protections for homeowners and provide tremendous benefits to Ponchatoula property investors. The online adjudicated property auctions will eliminate blight while restoring significant, annually recurring revenues to the City from property taxes that had previously gone unpaid. “We are looking forward to our partnership with CivicSource to help return previously vacant land and properties back to use and commerce,” explains Ramona Tara’ Umbach, Tax Collector for the City of Ponchatoula. CivicSource specializes in digitized due diligence, ensuring all homeowners, heirs, and persons of interest affiliated with a tax-delinquent property have been adequately notified and given ample opportunity to redeem the property before it qualifies for an adjudicated property auction. All adjudicated properties for sale at CivicSource.com went unsold in a tax sale and have not been redeemed. The City’s new, technology-driven property auctions will take place online at CivicSource.com, allowing bidders to conduct property research and participate in the auction from any internetready device whether at home, work or a public facility. CivicSource.com offers numerous innovative investor tools including access to auction legal research, integrated Google and GIS parcel maps, a proxy bidding feature, customizable watch lists and a sliding close function preventing last-second, online bid sniping. Visit CivicSource.com to view a complete listing of qualified tax-delinquent adjudicated properties or to nominate properties for auction. The properties are listed for $0 plus closing costs. Both commercial and residential properties are available for purchase.  ONLINE: CivicSource.com

6  www.thedrumnewspaper.info / SPECIAL COMMEMORATIVE 2018

Happy 80 Birthday and congratulations on publishing 500 issues! th

Unity leads to spiritual growth for Black, White congregations during transition x By Brian Blackwell

SPECIAL COMMEMORATIVE 2018 / www.thedrumnewspaper.info 7


To be included in the DrumRoll section, submit your accomplishment and photo to news@thedrumnewspaper.info. Make sure your full name and details of your accomplishment are provided along with a contact phone number. Send photos as .jpeg or .tiff 300dpi files. Read more on these recognitions at www.thedrumnewspaper.info.

Special to The Drum

Manuel Pigee III boldly prayed in 2015, asking God to lead United Believers Baptist Church to a rebirth at a new property. After three years of fasting and praying, God presented the steadily growing African-American congregation with the opportuPigee nity to move into a facility the church, which was still a campus of utilized by Oakcrest Baptist Church, a predominantly Caucasian Franklin Avenue. Four years later, on April 15, 2015, congregation, whose Sunday morning worship attendance was in steady de- the congregation voted to rename itself United Believers Baptist Church, adoptcline. Since United Believers Baptist ing Psalm 133:1 as its mission – “Behold Church said, “Yes,” in January to shar- how good and how pleasant it is for ing the campus, the congregation has brothers to dwell together in unity.” During their three-year search for a seen God move in more ways than they new home, the congregation was introever imagined. “When I became pastor of the church, duced to Oakcrest Baptist. At one time, that congregation had I said to them I want you to know I am praying God would do something no as many as 600 participating in Sunday mornone could ing worship, take credit but as the for — that demographGod would ics around get the glothe neighry,” he said. borhood “The way changed, He opened attendance the door steadily deand soclined, with lidified this fewer than partnership Rev. Charles Bennett and Rev. Manuel Pigee III. Photo by 20 attendhas generJohnny Morgan ing last year. ated a great After a spirit of joy and peace. We are overwhelmed by meeting among representatives of the two churches, in June and then anothGod’s grace.” United Believers Baptist Church was er in October, Oakcrest Baptist leaders formed after Hurricane Katrina forced told Pigee God was leading them to alFranklin Avenue Baptist Church in New low United Believers Baptist to share Orleans to meet at three separate loca- the space, which is located on Greenwell tions, including the Baton Rouge cam- Springs Road in Baton Rouge. “They told us we were the church that pus. Within a year, many members of could reach the community for years to the Franklin Avenue congregation re- come, and they wanted to work out an turned to New Orleans, but a remnant agreement with us to gracefully phase of around 100 stayed behind, growing out,” Pigee said. “I said to my people this to 136 in 2017. x Please see UNITY, pg 10 In 2011, Pigee was called as pastor of

Brown Master Sargeant Bianca Brown retired Nov. 3 with 30 years federal civil service and 34 years in the U.S. Air Force. State Rep. Barbara Norton acknowleged the occasion as Bianca Brown Day. Brown also received proclamations from Gov. John Bel Edwards and Senator W. Jay Luneau. According to her husband, Tony Brown, she has “commuted from Woodworth, to Barksdale AFB in Bossier, 282 miles a day for more than 15 years. She has driven 1.1 million miles in that time she says for God and Country.” North Baton Rouge Economic Development District’s Board of Commissioners unanimously appointed Jerry Jones Jr. as its executive director on Nov. The 35-year-old is the former economic development director for St. John Parish. He has



10 years of experience in business recruitment and retention, project development, and administration, management. Angela Nichols Young, Ph.D., of Lake Providence, has been selected for inclusion in the upcoming Trademark Women of Distinction 2018 Honors for demonstrating dedication and professional excellence. She is CEO of Healthy Minds Counseling Angency and the House of Hope for Boys in Bastrop. 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. She currently serves as a fellow in the Food Systems Leadership Institute. Her career has focused on educating and improving the lives of small farmers and their families. The George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award honors distinguished College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni who have demonstrated outstanding achievement or leadership by making signifi-

Pierson cant, influential, or innovative contributions to society. She was recognized Oct. 26 during the annual Honors and Awards Ceremony in Iowa. Gregory Pierson was appointed assistant director of aviation of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport by Mike Edwards, the director of aviation. Pierson has 12 years of airport management experience, and has servered as computer/electronics systems manager, PC LAN specialist, and IT Manager. His airportwide 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 is a graduate of Scotlandville

Williams Magnet High School, Southern University, and the University of Pheonix. Chief Judge Felicia Toney Williams, of Tallulah, will be inducted Dec. 13 to the Second Court of Appeals in Shreveport. On Oct. 4, Williams became the first Black chief judge of the Second Circuit, which serves 20 parishes in North Louisiana. She has served four years on the Louisiaiana Judiciary Commission, and chair of the Louisiana Conference of Court of Appeal Judges. She was elected unapposed to a third, 10-year term. She is married to attorney Moses Junior Williams. She had three children Rhonda, Myra and Justin, and two grandchildren Christian and Camryn.

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

x By Kathryn J. Martin The Drum Contributing Writer

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. 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 Eddie Ponds, Videographer long, sometimes rough roads it took to get so Further puzzling to youth was far in the world of methat on Saturday nights, teenage dia. boys, all friends from both races, Born in the Millville enjoyed hanging out at Billups Gas area of Ponchatoula 80 Station but they just couldn’t go to years ago, little Eddie school together! was fourth in a famRegardless of color, many young ily of ten children and people got jobs out in public before grew up in a far differthey were old enough. Eddie’s was ent world than today. doing dishes in Little Ory’s diner In a time when Italwhere he worked all through high ians could not live in school. Ponchatoula and had After graduation, it was off to to be out by sunset, the Army durBlacks could not walk ing the Viet Nam on the sidewalks if a era, where he was white person, even a Eddie and Carrie Ponds in Ft. Benning, child, was there. Georgia, and HaIn the Ponds’ home, waii for Advanced a high standard of living was instilled by teaching Jungle Training. Just before he and by example. Both parents had third-grade eduwas sent to fight, the situation cations and stressed the importance of education changed and he returned home to and solid work ethic. A family of faith, they walked marry Carrie Wells. For two years together to services at Millville’s Star Valley Baptist he worked at the sawmill until folChurch. lowing his father-in-law in conEddie attended the Ponchatoula Colored School struction. Three times the salary, before going on to Hammond’s Greenville Park High but some of the work in those days School. Ponchatoula High School was just across was brutal. the tracks -- but Blacks weren’t allowed to cross the After telling his wife he’d retracks. ally 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 showed 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. 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

Eddie Ponds, High School graduate

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 in to 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. Leaving 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

Eddie Ponds, Photographer

Eddie and Carrie Ponds with daughters Michelle and Sharon

SPECIAL COMMEMORATIVE 2018 / www.thedrumnewspaper.info 9

Eddie Ponds, Army man

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. Mr. 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. Eddie 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!

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UNITY cont. from page 6

is a great privilege the Lord has allowed us to walk alongside this aging congregation. With the racial divide that is happening in America, it’s amazing to see an aging Anglo church willing to partner with an African American plant as God allows us to escort them to glory.” Charles Bennett, pastor of Oakcrest, said the relationship between his church and United Believers Baptist has been pleasant. “We felt we had a choice,” Bennett said. “We could let the buildings not being used to deteriorate, or, we could look for a group we felt good about coming in to use the facilities; and, we wanted a Southern Baptist group in here.

Our people are very open and appreciative by the way they have come in and made a difference for Christ.” Tommy Middleton, director of missions for the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge, applauds the members of Oakcrest for seeing the need for ministry in its facility for generations to come. “To the credit of Oakcrest and the leadership and sensitivity of United Believers, it’s turned out to be almost a textbook of how it’s supposed to be in terms of support, cooperation and love,” he said. “ “In many churches throughout our state and national conventions, churches go through

seasons of great growth and then that season passes,” he continued. “If there is not a renewal and a shift to address cultural changes in the neighborhood, that trend continues downward. When they recognize how to correct it or change it over to another church, it allows for a vibrant Gospel witness to continue in that area. Sometimes we hang out with stubbornness — you’ve got to let it go.” Since moving into the new building, United Believers Baptist has spent most of its time upgrading the property and building relationships with residents of the neighborhood. Members have spruced up

the landscaping, restriped the parking lot, installed lights in the parking lot, and placed monitors and additional lighting inside the worship center. Ministry efforts at its new campus have included a spring revival featuring Middleton and Franklin Avenue Baptist Pastor Fred Luter, a Mother’s Day tea and door-to-door visitation. Future ministry plans include a class to prepare young boys and girls for adulthood and after-school tutoring on Wednesdays. “One piece of feedback from the community is they want a place for children to go for spiritual enrichment and learn practical life skills,” Pigee said.

“We want to do social ministry as a way to create bridges and bring people to the Kingdom through a life-changing relationship with Christ. “I anticipate us really impacting the community and touching the lives of families and youth through our social outreach programs,” he said. “We are integrating ourselves more into the community. More than anything we want to be a lighthouse, where people’s faith is being shaped and they are being taught to practice it.” ONLINE: unitedbelieversbc.org


Empowering others with HIV/AIDS, Mrs. Meta is on the front line x by

candace J. SeMien

Jozef Syndicate reporter

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.” 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

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 Meta Smith-Davis with friends at HAART: HIV/AIDS the client has to do so in seAlliance for Region Two in Baton Rouge cret. “I don’t care if they have to results of an HIV test is frightening for hide 30 pills in 30 different places in ormany people and the team at HAART der to take the medicine, we will figure is focused on supporting people living out how to keep them safe and how to with HIV/AIDS immediately. “We don’t let a client get out the door keep them virally suppressed,” she said. She also shares strategies for safe without helping them,” she said. This type of commitment is a stan- sex based on the individual’s situation dard the executive director, Tim Young, including same-gender sex. This great, established at HAART. “He’s by far one grandmother takes particular care of of the finest men I’ve ever worked with. clients who appear to be in violent relaHe’s fine human being,” she said. The tionships. “Disclosing an HIV-positive non-profit organization is the largest in diagnosis to a partner can add to or even the state that offers a continuum of ser- start a violent relationship. So we counvices for people with HIV/AIDS includ- sel our clients very carefully. We don’t ing primary health care, medications, want a situation to escalate because one housing, employment assistance, test- partner believes they can harm the other who is HIV-positive.” Her job, then, ing, and prevention education. Just after Smith-Davis was diagnosed becomes to get the client to be as honest in 2001, she walked into the HAART with her as possible. Especially, since office for case management. She didn’t it is required by law to disclose HIVknow anyone with HIV and needed help positive status prior to having sex. “This and support. “There was nobody. I felt is required for the rest of their lives or disconnected from the world. (HAART) they will face criminal charges and be labled a sex offender.” felt like home,” she said. The self-described to’ up from the She returned to HAART for ongoing flo’ up, ex-con, drug-addicted, home-

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Jan 18 - 21, 2019 | 8 AM - 4 PM Winbourne Avenue from N. Acadian to BREC Howell Park Register Early! mlk2019.paperform.co Mayor President Sharon Weston Broome

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less 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. 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.

Congratulations ~ on ~

500 issues

Gail Hurst Community Advocate, New Roads, LA


speCiaL CommemoratiVe 2018 / www.thedrumnewspaper.info

12 www.thedrumnewspaper.info / speCiaL CommemoratiVe 2018

grambling State University approved to offer cybersecurity degree


x by Stacy M. brown nnPa newSwire correSPondent

Business is sweet in Zachary

graMbling State uniVerSity haS been aPproved to offer the state’s first Bachelor of Science degree in cybersecurity. The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors provided their approval and support for the university’s program, according to a news release. The next step in the process is approval from the Louisiana Board of Regents. Students will be eligible to begin enrolling in the program in fall 2019. “With the vision of your team and the support of this Board, we are confident Grambling is prepared to educate cybersecurity professionals the market is demanding,” said Board Chair Al Perkins. “These graduates will be equipped with highly sought-after skills to protect us as technology becomes more prevalent in our daily lives.” Grambling State faculty member, researcher and a member of the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission Yenumula B. Reddy, Ph.D., has been spearheading the new program’s development.

x by FranceS y. SPencer the druM contributing writer

buSineSS iS Sweet For JoSh and leah collinS who are making history less than one year after opening Great American Cookies and Marble Slab Creamery at 20103 Old Scenic Hwy in Zachary. Zachary Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Scott joked that the Collins were in business for “five minutes” before taking home Minority Enterprise honors, but Josh Collins is a homegrown success story much like Scott. Josh Collins explained that he was born and reared in Zachary and felt it was an excellence business environment for his new franchise. “We chose Zachary for the simple reason that there were not other options like this in Zachary,” Josh Collins said. “We lived in Zachary and we


We celebrate The Drum and thank the staff and publisher, Mr. Eddie Ponds, for continuing to report on important health conditions. Without your coverage, many of our members would not be aware of disease and critical support available in the state. Thank you and may you have continued success in publishing more news.

x please see sweet, pg 14

Happy 80th Birthday and congratulations on 500 issues, Mr. Ponds!

I am so grateful for your vision and leadership over the years that I pay homage to your creation each chance I get. I came to Baton Rouge a budding journalist looking for opportunity and then The Drum took a chance on me. I wouldn’t have the career I have today if it wasn’t for our collective zest of telling the stories our community wants to read. Your investment in community work through journalism and outreach is commendable, appreciated, and to be celebrated. Please continue the amazing work of telling the stories of our communities from within our communities, and growing the legacy that will follow in your footsteps. I know I certainly intend With sincere gratitude, to pass it on. Leslie D. Rose Former Assistant Managing Editor

who not only understand our “We are excited about the work of Dr. Reddy and his charge but offer us expert perspectives and thought leaderteam,” said Grambling State ship.” President Rick Gallot. Leading the University’s fis“Their continuous innovation in research and the cal health initiatives team is classroom are paving the Martin Lemelle Jr. the University’s Chief Operating Officer way for this program. We are and Interim Vice-President of excited for the impact their Finance. leadership and our systemlevel support will have on our The initiative also includes gallot state and economy,” he said. team members who offer experience from higher educaThe news comes on the heels tion, Silicon Valley, and public of an October report issued by the University of Louisiana System that accountancy. “We’re an example of what’s posstated Grambling State University has doubled its fiscal health score since FY sible when we partner,” said Lemelle. 2016, increasing from a 1.30 to a 2.60 as “The key to our successes has been a university-wide combination of collabof the most recent report. The fiscal health score, developed by oration and commitment. We’ve seen the Louisiana Board of Regents, mea- innovative ideas from every area, from sures overall organizational health, fac- our controller’s office to our academic toring in important components includ- units.” ing debt, revenue, and ability to operate. The outputs of these collaborative “It’s been a team-wide effort,” Gal- teams are having a direct impact on the lot said. “As a part of our commitment institution’s bottom-line. Some of those to innovation, we’ve engaged new tal- outputs include: • $1.2 million in annual savings ent and alumni from across the U.S.

Louisiana Lupus Foundation hosts monthly support groups across the state. Visit www.louisianalupusfoundation.org, @lalupusfndn, or call (225) 774-7999 for support.

Happy Birthday and continued blessings to your founder and publisher Mr. Eddie Ponds.

through participating in the Department of Education’s Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program; • Overall expense reduction of more than $6 million; • A 320 percent annual increase in grants from federal and state government initiatives; and • Realizing new revenue opportunities that include an increase in third-party commissions and its “Look for the Label” program which focuses on increasing licensing royalties. “Grambling State University is experiencing a renaissance. Its vastly improved fiscal health is yet another indication of the effective leadership and hard work occurring at all levels of the institution,” University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson said. “From its enrollment numbers to its operations, it’s exciting to see the rapid and significant advancement of this historic institution.”

Happy 80th Birthday and congratulations on 500 issues, Mr. Ponds!

I hope he has as much

happiness and abundance as he’s shared with us all!

Mega congrats to The Drum on 500 issues that have informed and inspired our communities. Lynn Emery, author, Baton Rouge www.lynnemery.com


wishes Mr. Eddie Ponds a happy 80th birthday and congratulates him on reaching the milestone of publishing 500 issues of The DRUM

East Baton Rouge Public Schools

You are a blessing to our community!


14 www.thedrumnewspaper.info / speCiaL CommemoratiVe 2018

Sweet cont. from page 12 said ‘what does Zachary not have and let’s bring something to Zachary that it does not have.’” The Collins fondly remembered that their first date was Marble Slab so that make the choice to bring the franchise to Zachary. The roll of the sweet dice has paid off in tremendous ways. “Honestly, it’s been overwhelming,” Josh Collins said. “We broke the franchise record in sales so the initial plans we had were scrapped and we had to go back to the drawing board.” ONLINE: facebook.com/ GreatAmericanSlab

Thank you Mr. Eddie Ponds and THE DRUM for 500+ issues of community news and exceptional coverage


Holidays cont. from page 4

Your dedication and your service to our community is greatly appreciated. May God continue to shed His blessings upon you as you continue to do His will. – Sadie Roberts-Joseph, Founder/Curator Odell S. Williams Now And Then African-American Museum

Happy Birthday and Congratulations, Mr. Ponds. When you were my kind and gentle Science Teacher in 1975, I had no idea that you wore a super-hero cape beneath your suit and tie. Wishing you happiness and contentment and many more years to come. With love and fondness and gratitude, Terri Gouedy Gregory, Covington




speCiaL CommemoratiVe 2018 / www.thedrumnewspaper.info

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the holiday season. Remember the simplicity of the reality that this too shall pass. Keep constantly at the forefront of your thinking the simple truth that 95 percent of those things that we dreadfully fear never actually come to fruition. As alluded to earlier, there are those among friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, associates, parishioners and organizational affiliation facing health challenges all year. If you don’t already know their reality, you can hardly ever tell just by looking. They can be the most attractive, best-dressed, well-educated, articulate, clever, witty, outspoken, creative, and resourceful people in the room. None of those have anything to do with the workings of a troubled mind. Mental illness takes myriad forms. Bipolar disorders. Depression. Anxiety or panic. Schizophrenia. Excessive phobia. Obsessive, compulsive disorder.

Many African Americans suffer symptoms of these illnesses in silence and secrecy. We need to make more of an effort to encourage people to step forward for what is more often than not a treatable – if not curable – issue. Borderline personality disorder. Suicidal or self-harmful behavior. Dissociative disorders. Eating disorders. Post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychosis. Tourette’s syndrome. There is not enough space to delve into each. Perhaps at another writing, we can explore the symptoms, the effects, treatments. For now, the point is to urge one and all to recognize their existence and not to shun those who may be suffering. We need to embrace them on whatever level of familiarity we enjoy with them. Let them know they do not need to hesi-

tate sharing their struggle. The Black community is particularly in need of addressing mental health among our friends, associates and family members. It does no good to offer some surface explanation for what we know is a deeper issue; no bandage to cover a virtual tumor. Finally, many African Americans suffer symptoms of these illnesses in silence and secrecy. We need to make


more of an effort to encourage people to step forward for what is more often than not a treatable – if not curable – issue. The point is, African Americans need to embrace this cause with fervor through the holiday season and the year. There is no better time than now to launch a massive movement in our community encouraging heightened awareness, sensitive and necessary care for our mental health. This article originally appeared in The Chicago Crusader.

16  www.thedrumnewspaper.info / SPECIAL COMMEMORATIVE 2018

Ponchatoula, Baton Rouge mayors recognize Ponds and The Drum Photographed with Eddie and Carrie Ponds are journalist Kathryn Martin, artist Kim Zabbia, and Ponchatoula Mayor Robert Zabbia.

The Drum newspaper publisher Eddie Ponds received proclamations from Ponchatoula Mayor Robert “Bob” Zabbia, Baton Rouge MayorPresident Sharon Broome, and BR City councilwoman Chauna Banks honoring the celebration the 500th edition of The Drum and for “keeping the true history of African Americans.” Ponds and wife, Carrie, received the honors on Oct. 10 in Baton Rouge and on Nov. 4 in Ponchatoula.

Eddie Ponds with Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Broome, Carrie Ponds, and Baton Rouge Councilwoman Chauna Banks.

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