Summer 2018 The Drum

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summer 2018

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Historic Tangipahoa parish Training School--nation’s EBR schools relocate 14 principals first vocational school for Blacks to be auctioned


x By deon JohnSon Special to The Drum

KENTWOOD, La--the tangipahoa Parish desegregation lawsuit, filed over 51 years ago in the federal courts in New Orleans, has still not been resolved. In 1911, the Tangipahoa Parish Training School opened as the first Black training school in the nation. Vocational and industrial education offered students specialized training. The school provided teacher training so that the graduated could staff the Black schools in rural towns throughout the South. The training school was the beginning of secondary public education for Black in South.

Big Boss comes to Village, page 3

fouRteen SChoolS in eaSt Baton Rouge parish will have new principals staring this month. Here’s a list: O.W. Dillon • STACY BRADFORD, principal of Broadmoor High. BradThe nation’s first Black owned the building, one of which was ford was principal of East St. vocational training school will named for him. The scholastic John Preparatory Academy be auctioned off Aug. 29 in year 1911-12, marked the bein Laplace. ginning of the Training School Kentwood, La. • J O COX, interim principal Movement as far the Slater at Brownfields Elementary. Fund is concerned. Professor Professor Armstead Mitch- A.M. Strange wrote to Dr. James Cox was previously Brownell Strange was born in 1884 H. Dillard, general agent for the field’s assistant principal. in Waterproof, Louisiana. He John F. Slater Fund (a philan• CHRISTAL AGUILLARD-SYLearned his college degree from thropic fund for the advanceVAIN, principal of CedarAlcorn College, where he fin- ment of Negro education), soliccrest-Southmoor Elemenished in 1902. Strange came to iting aid for a Black school that tary. Aguillard-Sylvain was Tangipahoa Parish via Collins, would be located in Kentwood, most recently principal of Mississippi. He came to Kent- Louisiana. Professor Strange eswood, LA in 1910. Strange joined tablished Kentwood’s first trainJohn L. Ory Magnet School several local white businesses, ing school for Blacks. in Laplace. and donated money to establish • LADARRION JACKSON, princiIn 1917, Professor Oliver WenKentwood Industrial School for dell Dillon came to Kentwood pal at Forest Heights AcadBlacks. He raised the money, emy of Excellence. Jackson purchased land, and erected x please see historiC, pg 8

meet the candidates, page 6

airport’s inclusion gets national attention, page 8



was previously principal of Ryan Elementary. ROB HOWLE, principal at Lee High. Howle was most recently principal of the STEM Magnet Academy of Pointe Coupee in Morganza. ESROM PITRE, principal at McKinley High. Pitre was most recently executive director for Athlos Academy of Jefferson Parish. TONGELIA ROWAN, principal of McKinley Middle. Rowan was previously assistant principal at Istrouma Middle. MELVIN HOLLINS, principal of Ryan Elementary. Hollins was previously dean of students at Glasgow Middle. SHARON SIMS, principal of x please see prinCipaLs, pg 3

2 / summer 2018


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New business comes to the Village of Tangipahoa x By

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VILLAGE OF TANGIPAHOA - - Village of Tangipahoa Mayor Trashica Robinson along with the board of aldermen and special guests gathered July 17 to break ground on a Big Boss Travel Plaza and Bella Rose Estates, a combination convenience store and restaurant to be located off Highway 440. “We’ve worked hard for the past two years to bring new business to the Village of Tangipahoa,” said Robin son. “It’s been more than 20 years since a new business came to the Village. New business means more sales tax,” said Robinson. “In the


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Breaking ground for Big Boy Plaza in the Village of Tangipahoa from left to right, Darrell, Martín, Clara Faultz, Ann Smith, Ricky Coleman, Deborah Cyprian, Shelia Martin, Parish President Robby Miller, Mayor Keysha Robinson, Nick Joseph, Eunice Harris representing Entergy, Brenda Nevel, and Mason Foster. Photo by eddie pondS.

process (the businesses) create some local jobs.” She said, “This is a good location, travelers can leave the interstate get a quick breakfast, gas up, and con-

tinue to work.” “When this project is completed it will bring economic benefit to the town, she said. 

Village of Tangipahoa Mayor Keysha Robinson at the Big Boss Travel Plaza construction site. Photo by eddie pondS.

PrINCIPALS cont. from page 1


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

summer 2018 /

University Terrace Elementary. Sims was previously associate principal at Lee High. BRANDY WILLIAMS, principal of Wedgewood Elementary. Williams was previously substituting as principal at Forest Heights. BRIAN FOREMAN, principal of Westdale Middle School. Foreman was previously assistant principal at Istrouma High. RICHARD RATTLIFFE, principal at Westminster Elementary. Rattliffe was previously assistant principal at Lafayette Renaissance Charter Academy.

• •

CANDICE MEYERS, principal of Wildwood Elementary. Meyers was previously Wildwood’s assistant principal. PENNIE BRISCO, principal of Winbourne Elementary. Brisco was previously Winbourne’s assistant principal. principal at Lee High. BRANDY WILLIAMS, principal of Wedgewood Elementary. Williams was previously substituting as principal at Forest Heights. BRIAN FOREMAN, principal of Westdale Middle School. Foreman was previously assistant principal at Istrouma High. 

HOMe SCHOOLING TIPS When homeschooling elementary age boys or girls, make sitting optional. They should not be forced to sit all day to “learn.” They should be allowed to stand, walk, or crouch under the table while completing their assignments as long as they are not distracting other students. In the early years of Kamali Academy, we had a young brother who could not sit still. Every time professor Samori Camara, Ph.D., looked around, he was up walking or sitting on the floor with his book open. It took Dr. Camara a while to get out of his “European mind” and allow him to do his thing, in the chair, on the chair, or hanging from the chair. That concession proved valuable to his education.  ONLINE:

summer 2018 /

4 / summer 2018



Rep. James’ licence bill becomes phone app for Louisiana drivers goV. John Bel edWaRdS announCed louisiana’s new digital driver’s license App is available to the public. It will enable an image of a physical Louisiana license to be displayed on cell phones ensuring that Louisiana drivers who have their cell phones will always have access to their license. LA Wallet was created under Louisiana law of Act 625 by Baton Rouge Rep. Ted James. “Most people never leave home without their smartphone and with this App, they will never be without their driver’s license,” said Edwards. “State Police requested a ‘hands-off’ and ‘no-touch’ procedure that would not require them to hold a driver’s phone. Rep. Ted James, who authored the legislation that led to the creation of this app, is to be commended for his work as well as the team of Louisianans who designed it.” The LA Wallet was jointly designed by Louisiana State Police, Department of Public Safety and the Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV). It was developed by Envoc, a Louisiana-based software development firm. The entire development team is made up of graduates of Louisiana universities. LA Wallet is the first digital driver’s license app to be fully launched in the United States. While there are other apps


“Rep. Ted James, who authored the legislation that led to the creation of this app, is to be commended for his work as well as the team of Louisianans who designed it.” Gov. John Bel Edwards

in development, LA Wallet is the only app with a fully-functioning, open to the public version in the Apple App store. LA Wallet is free to download, but an in-app purchase of $5.99 activates a citizen’s license or ID for legal acceptance. The digital license is valid for the life of the user’s license issuance. Once a user’s physical license expires, they must renew

their license with the OMV and purchase a new digital license through LA Wallet. “OMV is proud to make this App available to the public,” said OMV Commissioner Karen St. Germain. “The safety of the app has been tested with all industry-standard security measures and with pin number protection it is protected from anyone accessing a user’s license information. Also, it does not track nor ask to track the user’s location at any time. If a user’s phone is lost or stolen, the user can simply log in to online portal to unlink their license information from their mobile device.” The user’s license information is always up-to-date. If a user updates their address or any other information before their license expires; the app will notify them that something has changed. They will not need to purchase a new license. Instead, they only need to unlink then relink their license. ONLINE:


To be included in the DRUMROLL section, submit your accomplishment and photo to 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 DrumRoll at


Read these headlines at

Local campers Skype with Kenyan girls, visit Baton rouge Mayor Sharon Broome

Turner to receive Slim Harpo Blues Award


Blues, soul and funk musician Henry Turner Jr. has used his musical platform to celebrate philanthropists and musicians in the Baton Rouge area. The city is awarding him with the 2018 Slim Harpo Blues Award, Thursday, November 15 at 6 p.m. at Time Out in Baton Rouge.  Read more online.

School for autism opens in Baton rouge

Welcome to the Park Forest Community The Emerge School for Autism will welcome its first class of students on August 16, 2018, as the first tuitionfree school for children with autism spectrum disorder in the state of Louisiana. The school’s mission is to educate students with ASD using therapeutically focused evidencebased strategies grounded in the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and Universal Design for Learning enabling children to reach their full potential and transform their lives.  Read more online.

Baton Rouge-local and Avon Representative STARSKY CLARK will be starring in iconic beauty brand Avon’s upcoming campaign. From top-sellers to accomplished leaders, Avon’s Campaign 19 will feature all real-life Avon Representatives as models in their newest catalog, launching August 21. A former Marine, Clark works as a fulltime pharmacist. St. Mark United Methodist Church recently welcomed Rev. SIMON CHIGUMIRA as its new pastor. Chigumira comes from the New Orleans District and is an elder with the United Methodist Church in the Louisiana Annual Conference. A minister for 15 years, he is enrolled in the doctor of ministry program at Asbury School of Theology focussing on organizational leadership. Eunice, Chigumira;s wife of 37 years, is an ordained minister serving Roberts United Methodist Church in Denham Springs. Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus SEN. BETH MIZELL has been elected as chair of the Women’s Caucus. She has served in the Louisiana Legislature since 2016 and currently serves on the Senate’s Commerce and Consumer Protection and International Affairs Committee, Education Com-



mittee and the Retirement Committee. She also serves as vice-chair of the Vocational & Technical Education Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Women and Children. Mizell has authored legislation on human trafficking, student health and wellbeing and helping women impacted by domestic violence. Other Women’s Caucus Officers who will help lead the Women’s Caucus are: SEN. SHARON HEWITT, REP. BERYL AMEDÉE, SEN. REGINA ASHFORD BARROW, REP. KATRINA JACKSON, REP. BARBARA CARPENTER, REP. POLLY THOMAS, AND REP. BARBARA NORTON. The Women’s Caucus is comprised of the women legislators who are currently serving in the Louisiana Legislature. Their mission is to prepare the next generation of women leaders and serve as the premiere voice and leading monitor of issues, legislation and policies which impact women. There are presently 21 women who serve in both the Louisiana Senate and the Louisiana House of Representatives. A 2017 Scotlandville Magnet High School graduate, Seaman Apprentice CRYSTAL PAUL is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the world’s largest international maritime warfare exer-


cise, Rim of the Pacific. Paul is a culinary specialist aboard USS Dewey, currently operating out of San Diego, California. A Navy culinary specialist is responsible for cooking for the entire crew. Louisiana Center for Health Equity president ALMA C. STEWART received the NAACP Dr. William Montague Cobb Award “For her outstanding efforts to advance health policy, health advocacy, and social justice in the State of Louisiana.” The award was presented at the NAACP Annual Convention in San Antonio, July 16. This award is given annually in recognition of the legacy of Dr. William Montague Cobb, who served as the President of the NAACP from 1976 to 1983, to honor individuals and organizations that have made a significant impact in the field of health. Stewart has served as the state health committee chair for the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP since 2014. She also organized the Campaign for Healthcare for Everyone Louisiana in 2013 to advocate for statewide policy change and build grassroots momentum to implement Medicaid expansion by 2016.

SeVeRal loCal CaMpeRS Spend a summertime of learning and fun by participating in a local program called, Camp U.N.I.T.E.D. over the past few weeks. Camp U. N. I. T. E. D. (Uplifted, Nurtured, and Inspired Together Each Day), they had the opportunity to participate in daily workshops that focused on leadership development, healthy nutrition and body image, time management skills, communication skills, internet safety, and community/public service. The girls’ primary focus was on the three paths to empowerment as they start their journey into middle school. Their unique journeys began with discovering their individual personal power or the power within. Then, they moved to the power of team or the power of reaching across to work with others. The final path was the power of community/public service or the power of reach-

ing out. The highlights of their camp were a 90 minute Skype session with girls their age in Migosi, Kenya, Africa and a field trip to City Hall to meet with Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, Councilwoman Tara Wicker, and Councilman Chandler Loupe. Each girl received a certificate of commendation signed by Mayor Broome and was also given the opportunity to visit the new Metro-Council chambers where they were allowed to participate in a mock Metro-Council meeting. These girls have experienced a unique summer filled with awesome opportunities. Participants visiting Baton Rouge City Hall and Mayor Sharon Weston Broome were: KAYLEIGH TRAN, HEAVEN ADAMS, MCKENZIE MILTON, MADISON LATHERS, AARIONNA BARG, TYRA PORTER, HAVEN FRANKLIN, BROOKE BUTLER, NYRIELLE DAVIS, AND ADELAY SMITH.


6 / summer 2018

Meet the candidates vying for votes in Tangipahoa’s November 6 election

summer 2018 /

Important dates for upcoming election The following is important information for the Nov. 6, 2018 Open Primary/Congressional Election:




Secretary of State (One to be elected)

Howard Kearney, Mandeville, Libertarian, White Male

R. Kyle Ardoin, Baton Rouge, Republican, White Male

Tammy M. Savoie, New Orleans Democrat, White Female

Heather Cloud, Turkey Creek Republican, White Female

Steve Scalise,Jefferson,Republican ,White Male

‘Gwen’ Collins-Greenup, Clinton Democrat, Black Female A.G. Crowe, Pearl River, Republican, White Male ‘Rick’ Edmonds, Baton Rouge, Republican, White Male Renee Fontenot Free, Baton Rouge, Democrat, White Female Thomas J. Kennedy III, Metairie, Republican, White Male Matthew Paul ‘Matt’ Moreau, Zachary, No Party, White Male Julie Stokes, Metairie, Republican, White Female

U. S. Representative 1st Congressional District (One to be elected)

Lee Ann Dugas, Kenner, Democrat, White Female ‘Jim’ Francis, Covington, Democrat, White Male Frederick ‘Ferd’ Jones, Ponchatoula, Independent, White Male

U. S. Representative 5th Congressional District Ralph Abraham Archibald, Republican, White Male Billy Burkette, Pride, Independent, American Indian Male Jessee Carlton Fleenor, Loranger, Democrat, White Male Kyle Randol, Monroe, Libertarian, White Male

Member of School Board - District A (One to be elected)

Walter Daniels, Amite, Democrat, Black Male Jonathan Foster, Amite, Democrat, Black Male Janice Fultz Richards, Fluker, Democrat, Black Female




Member of School Board - District B (One to be elected)

Christina ‘Chris’ Cohea, Hammond, No Party, White Female

Rodney Lee, Loranger, Independent, White Male

E. Rene Soule, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

‘Tom’ Tolar, Kentwood, Republican, White Male

‘Mike’ Whitlow, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Male

Member of School Board - District C

Member of School Board - District G

(One to be elected)

(One to be elected)

Robin Abrams, Independence, Republican, White Female

Alvon Brumfield, Hammond, No Party, White Male

Janice Reid Holland, Independence, Democrat, Black Female

Jerry Moore, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

Member of School Board - District D (One to be elected)

Terran Perry, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

Betty C. Robinson, Hammond, Democrat, Black Female

Member of School Board - District I (One to be elected)

Phillip David Ridder Jr., Tickfaw, Republican, White Male

Rose Quave Dominguez, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Female

Glenn Westmoreland, Hammond, Republican, White Male

Arden Wells, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Male

Member of School Board - District F

John H. Wright Jr., Ponchatoula, Democrat, Black Male

(One to be elected)

‘Randy’ Bush, Ponchatoula, Republican, White Male



Mayor City of Hammond (One to be elected)

Oscar ‘Omar’ Dantzler, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male Jim ‘J.’ Kelly Jr., Hammond, Democrat, Black Male Peter Michael Panepinto, Hammond, Republican, White Male

Mayor Town of Kentwood (One to be elected)

Rochell Bates, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male Irma Thompson Gordon, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female Michael ‘Mike’ Hall, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male Herbert Montgomery, Kentwood, No Party, Black Male

Chief of Police - Town of Kentwood (One to be elected)

Gregory ‘Big’ Burton, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male Michael Kazeroni, Kentwood, Republican, Black Male


Council Member District 1, City of Hammond (One to be elected)

Kiplyn ‘Kip’ Andrews, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male Carl R. Duplessis, Hammond, No Party, White Male ‘Chris’ McGee Sr.,Hammond, Democrat, Black Male

Council Member District 2, City of Hammond (One to be elected)

Carlee White Gonzales, Hammond, Republican, White Female Craig Inman, Hammond, Republican,White Male ‘Josh’ Taylor, Hammond, Republican, White Male

Council Member District 3, City of Hammond Janice Carter, Hammond, Democrat, Black Female Devon Wells, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male ‘Brad’ Wilson, Hammond, Democrat, Black Male




Council Member District 4, City of Hammond

Shannon R. Kazerooni, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

(One to be elected)

William Lawson, Kentwood, Republican, White Male

Sam Divittorio, Hammond, Republican, White Male

James Robbins, Kentwood, No Party, Black Male

Justin Thornhill, Hammond, Republican, White Male

Michael L. Sims, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

Council Member District 5, City of Hammond

Steven J. Smith, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

(One to be elected)

Louise Bostic, Hammond, No Party, White Female Steven Leon, Hammond, Republican, White Male

Council Member(s) Town of Kentwood (Five to be elected)

Gary Callihan, Kentwood, Democrat, White Male Irma Clines, Kentwood, Democrat Black Female Tre’von D. Cooper, Kentwood, Independent, Black Male Xavier D. Diamond, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male Antoinette Harrell, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female Terrell ‘Teddy’ Hookfin, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male

Paul Stewart, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male Tonja Thompson, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female John Williams, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Male Audrey T. Winters, Kentwood, Democrat, Black Female

Council Member(s) Village of Tickfaw

x Oct. 9

The deadline to register to vote in person or by mail is Oct. 9 (deadline advanced one day because of Columbus Day Holiday).

x Oct. 16

The deadline to register to vote through the GeauxVote Online Registration System is Oct. 16.

x Oct.23-30

Early voting is Oct. 23-30 (except Sunday, Oct. 28) from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

x Nov. 2

The deadline to request an absentee by mail ballot is Nov. 2 by 4:30 p.m. Voters can request an absentee by mail ballot online through our Voter Portal or in writing through your Registrar of Voters Office (other than military and overseas voters).

(Three to be elected)

‘Mike’ Fedele, Tickfaw, Other, White Male ‘Steve’ Galofaro, Tickfaw, Other, White Male Guy J. Ribando, Tickfaw, Democrat, White Male Jimmy Sparacello, Tickfaw, No Party, White Male

x Nov. 5

The deadline for a registrar of voters to receive a voted mail ballot is Nov. 5 by 4:30 p.m. (other than military and overseas voters).


8 / SUMMER 2018

AIRPORT cont. from page 8


Facing the Nation: Making inclusion a priority at the BR airport x By

Airport is changing and becoming more inclusive.

Zenobia Reed

The Drum Contributing Writer

Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport and its commission chairman Cleve Dunn Jr. are facing two national nominations for being catalysts for diversity inclusion. This first-time praise comes from the Airport Minority Advisory Council, the only national, non-profit trade association dedicated to promoting the inclusion of minorities and women in Cleve Dunn Jr., Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport Commission Chair contracting opportunities within aviaEarlier this month, Dunn discussed the nominations tion and aerospace industries. and the airport’s work with minority-owned and womDunn has been nominated for the AMAC Advocate of the Year Award and the AMAC Inclusive Leader en-owned businesses. (Read this story in its entirety at Award. As a result, the airport earned the nominations as well. The advocate award recognizes an outstanding spokesperson, educator, innovator, advocate,  and THE DRUM: Since this is the first time you and strategic partner with AMAC for diversity inclusion. the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport have The leadership award honors an organization for been nominated, what does this nomination demonstrating diversity inclusion within its corporate say for the BR Airport? DUNN: It simply says that the leadership has structure of procurement and employment. changed and the culture at the Baton Rouge Metro

WHO TO WATCH: Steven C. Baham

Steven C. Baham, 40, is a computer scientist and owner of Baham Laboratories, LLC, in Baton Rouge. A native of Slidell, Baham is the son of Les and Eva Baham. As a child, he and his brother, Michael, wanted a Nintendo game system, but their father wanted them to build computers to play video games instead. Since 1994, Baham has been gradually building clientele as a technology consultant. He established Baham Laboratories, LLC in 2004, and today the company has more than 600 clients and nearly 30 business IT service agreements in Baton Rouge, Hammond, New Orleans, and Slidell. Moves made from 2015 to 2017: The 2016 flood was challenging because with my home office damaged, I had to learn to operate with a small amount of equipment with minimal space. Even so, we were able to build a custom e-mail cloud server for Baham Labs clients with special security features, recover valuable data for clients who had their office computer flooded. What to expect in 2018 from you? My biggest topic I keep reinforcing is digital security. I think most people don’t take it seriously until something really bad happens to them. It’s my job to help protect and educate people/organizations on how to protect

SUMMER 2018 / 9

themselves. When you’re a person like me who sees the worse things happen to some people online, it makes it easier to explain to others the steps they should be taking. I still have a few surprises for 2018 that I can’t reveal yet, but watch our social media accounts in the next couple months. Role models: My parents are my main role models. What is your #1 priority right now? I have a small team finishing the data wiring for the new Geico building in Baton Rouge. That’s my priority since the next business steps will take place after that.s complete. Best advice you’ve ever received? Prepare yourself for what you want to do in the future, as well as prepare yourself the best you can for what might happen. What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward? It took me missing a wedding anniversary, and my daughter’s birthday one year because a client didn’t follow my advice… which lead to a system crash which they expected me

THE DRUM: What were the specific actions/ programs you initiated or completed that encourages minority opportunities at the Baton Rouge airport? DUNN: During my time on the Baton Rouge Metro Airport board of commissioners there has been no new program rollout to encourage minority opportunities. What I chose to do as a commissioner for the past 5 years and now the chairman of the board is to aggressively advocate for inclusion and diversity in every thing that we do at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport (BTR). That includes assuring that minorities receive jobs and career advancement opportunities at the airport, making sure minority owned and disadvantaged businesses are in our pipeline for contracting opportunities, and making sure that we are exposing children from our community to the aviation industry. As a result, our administration is more culturally diverse than it was five years ago, BTR is much more visible in the community and BTR is supporting more North x Please see AIRPORT, pg 11

to fix on those days respectively. I think when I realized that I could tell people what they HAD to do to improve their data systems, and if they refused, I could tell them to sign off on a form showing that I wasn’t liable for what might happen, was when I realized I had more power over how I could run my business. Personal resolution: More vacation time Business motto: “We organize digital chaos.” What music are you listening/dancing to? I’m enjoying my 80s station on XM radio. What are you reading? Currently a lot of technical information online. What’s entertaining you? I love going to the movies! I’m also a Marvel movie fan, and a lifelong Star Wars fan. ONLINE:

Baton Rouge businesses, organizations and non profits than ever before. Sean Joffrion, director of fine arts at the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, said, “Because of Mr. Dunn’s passion for showcasing Baton Rouge and what it has to offer, he advocated for one of Baton Rouge’s premier schools, McKinley Middle Magnet, to have wall space in Baton Rouge Metro Airport. This space allowed our diverse multi cultural population the opportunity to showcase art work which depicted the students interpretation of Louisiana and its culture.... Cleve is an amazing guy who knows the importance of having relationships between our community and business.”

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

THE DRUM: What had been barriers for diversity inclusion at the airport when you arrived as a commissionTHE DRUM: What is the er? How are you leading or asstatus of the airport as a sisting the commission and the growth opportunity for busiairport leadership in removing nesses and North Baton those barriers? Rouge? DUNN: In my opinion leadership DUNN: I’m a native of North sets the tone and creates the culture Baton Rouge, and I’m very pasfor any business or organization. sionate about the areas growth The leadership team has to be pasand development, as well as the sionate about an issue or project people of North Baton Rouge beand get buy in from the rest of the ing benefactors of that growth and staff and/or team members in order development by improving their Joffrion for that initiative to be implementquality of life through jobs and ed successfully. Our barrier at BTR contracting opportunities. We was that our leadership was not have some 4,000 jobs at the airpassionate enough about inclusion and diversity port and hundreds of contracting opportunities as we needed to be to bring about a culture of there as well. I will make sure that people living inclusion at BTR. That is why I lead the charge in in and around North Baton Rouge are aware of advocating for a national search for us a new avi- the job and income opportunities and do what ation director. I felt it was very important for us we can to help them get those opportunities. to evaluate the best and brightest aviation professionals around the country; who could develTHE DRUM: Who are you acknowledgop the land surrounding the airport, grow our air ing as you receive this nomination? service by adding airlines and destinations and DUNN: I do not accept this award nomination work with our board of commissioners to create alone. I accept it on the behalf of all the current a culture of inclusion at the airport. The airport’s and former Baton Rouge Metro Airport board of aviation director search committee, made up of commissioners who have advocated for minorthree metro council members and myself as one ity-owned and disadvantaged businesses while of four airport board commissioners concluded serving on our commission. Finally, I’d like to our work on July 9. After vetting the group of thank the Baton Rouge Metro Airport adminis39 candidates, conducting video interviews, re- tration and numerous staff members who have viewing their resumes and several in person in- been committed to inclusion and increasing the terviews; we narrowed the group down to three participation of minority owned and disadvancandidates that the committee chose to recom- taged business enterprises. mend to the metro council. The metro council is Winners of the AMAC awards will be anscheduled to choose a director from the group of nounced during the 34th Annual Airport Busithree finalists in the weeks to come. ness Diversity Conference in Seattle, Washington, Aug 21-25. ONLINE: THE DRUM: You are now in your secONLINE: ond term on the commission and first

10 / summer 2018


HISTOrIC cont. from page 1

Old dormitory to take charge of the one-room, one-teacher, two months a year school. That year Dillon received $1,000 from the Brooks Scanlon Lumber Co. and the Natalbany Lumber Co. in order to hire three other teachers and extend the school term to a full nine months for 200 students. In 1919 the school board appropriated $1,000 to construct a twostory, five-classroom building at the school. Another $1,200 was spent to purchase 85 acres adjoining the school. Professor Dillon appealed to the local board to buy a machine, and to make cement blocks. After securing the machine he implored Black people in the area to supply labor. They made 40,000 cement blocks, one at a time and erected a building for educating area children. According to the genealogy research of Leonard Smith III and local historian Antoinette Harrell, Professor Strange was one of seventeen children born to Tillman and Millie Hunter Strange. His brother Tillman moved to Chicago and became a physician. Professor Strange started other schools and colleges in the South. He helped many young Black students get their education. Harrell’s research revealed that the greatest gospel singer Mahalia Jackson performed at the school in the 60’s. Many of the students who attended the school were the children of sharecroppers and farmers who

wanted their children to get an education. Having the school auction would create a massive void in the community. Deon attended every meeting to address this situation with the Tangipahoa Parish School Board and hasn’t had much success. “How could they auction off our legacy?” He asked. “Our ancestor worked with the sweat, tears, and blood to build this school,” said Deon. Basketball star LeBron James opened the free “I Promise” school in Akon, Ohio. The school offers free uniforms, transportations, access to a food pantry for their family. Professor Strange and Professor Dillon did the same thing in Kentwood. They solicited the support of the community who gave their resources and labor to build the oldest Training School for Blacks in the Nation. “Today the school is up for auction and has caused a great deal of pain and heartaches for the African American community,” said Deon Johnson, Execute Director of O.W. Dillon Preservation Organization. “They’re auctioning off our legacy and history,” said Deon. “A lot of sweat and hard work built this school,” he said. “Professor Oliver Wendell Dillon and men of the community made the very bricks and mortar to build the school. Please help us to keep this historic school and preserve our legacy.”

SuBSCRiBe online at

summer 2018 /


La. based social network expects to bring $26 billion back into urban communities

Death in East Baton Rouge parish prison too common

x By

x By

the dRuM Staff

BELLE CHASSE, La.--Building Economic Advancement Network (BEAN) is aligning strategic investments, incentivized business transactions and cutting-edge technology to increase economic power in urban communities. The company is scheduled to launch the intuitive BEAN app this fall. According to BlackNews. com, this launch sets a precedent as the first social network dedicated to the economic advancement of urban communities by leveraging commerce and blockchain technology. “The platform allows users to easily connect with businesses and professionals from all over the world that are committed to making a positive economic impact in urban communities. BEAN’s intuitive app leverages the latest breakthroughs in blockchain technology, enabling users to monitor their daily economic impact, while earning BEAN coins for their transactions,” states a corporate press release. BEAN is founded by Darren Walker, 33, of Belle Chasse, a real estate investor who oversees a multi-million dollar portfolio. He recently starred in the DIY Network’s show, ‘Louisiana Flip N Move,’ where

he and his wife, is not realized Lucy, demonwhere it matstrated their real ters most - in estate and renoAfrican Amerivation prowess can neighborthroughout Louhoods. BEAN’s isiana. social network His partner will counter Derek Fitzpatthat trend by rick is a designconnecting er, technology consumers expert and apand businesses plication develin a manner WalKeR oper who has led that positively multiple, awardimpacts urban winning studios communities.” as a creative director. His deep BEAN expects to facilitate understanding of design and $26 billion back into urban technology is at the forefront of communities by using its platBEAN’s platform. form to redirect a minimum of Fitzpatrick’s expertise in 2% of African American spendbranding, 3D/2D, animation, ing. motion graphics, visualization, BEAN has set aside 16% of architecture and industrial de- its shares for private investsign has been instrumental in ment. Now through Decemproducing creative, animated ber 31, 2018, individuals and and branding assets for major investors can purchase BEAN corporations, new products, shares with equity in accorbusiness services and start-ups. dance with the U.S. Securities BEAN partner Michael Long Exchange Commission’s (SEC) is a corporate attorney who rules under the Jobs ACT, Title specializes in corporate and III, Regulation Crowdfunding securities law, venture capital, (Reg. CF). joint ventures, real estate deBEAN is offering shares for a velopment, debt, mergers and minimum investment of $250 acquisitions, and various areas and maximum investment of of corporate law. $107,000. Facilitating BEAN’s Walker said, “BEAN is at Reg. CF offering is truCrowd, the forefront of an economic a U.S. crowdfunding portal aushift. We are leveraging re- thorized by the SEC. For every sources, partnerships and investment during the initial investors from diverse back- Reg. CF offering, investors will grounds and demographics to also receive BEAN Coin tokens, drive economic advancement which will be used as cryptoin urban communities. African currency on BEAN’s social netAmericans have the 16th larg- work. est buying power in the world and are major contributors to the United States GDP, yet so much of that economic power


This page is designated for the opinions and commentaries of staff columnists and community writers to express their personal opinions which do not reflect the opinion of The Drum publisher, staff, nor members of the organization. To submit your opinion email: The editors reserve the right to edit submissions for clarity, space, and style.

ReV. aleXiS andeRSon

Guest Columnist

death in a loCal Jail iS pRetty rare unless you are housed in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. The disturbing part of that sentence is the unfiltered sad, truth that 25 people died in this prison between 2012 and 2016. And these deaths were known and not investigated by any independent entity. What should be the safest, most secure place in the parish is instead by all involved, an unacceptable, destabilized, broken system that doesn’t offer either public safety for the

general public or those employed in or those exposed to this system. More than 25 individuals whose lives had meaning to God, their families and their friends deserve this situation to be addressed. Many claim it is too hard but nothing could be further from the truth. For those families able to muster the resources to get legal representation they can sue but what remains most frightening is the false narrative that continues to live that everyone housed in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison is a hardened felon who has been convicted of a violent crime. The truth is

that 89% of all individuals held in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison have not been adjudicated. That is a fancy way of saying they haven’t been convicted of anything. Many people are incarcerated because of minor non-violent offenses and a very large percentage of those who cannot afford to make bail will plea not because they are guilty but because that is the only way for them to be released. We do indeed have an active and thriving debtors prison system. Some of the deaths were caused be purposeful cruelty such as inadequate basic pro-

tections such as socks and blankets. Some of the deaths were caused by policy and procedures that disrespected the most basic protocols for treating healthcare (including mental illness). Almost all the deaths to some degree were caused by the care and feeding of a mass incarceration industry that specifically requires bodies in the building to make payroll and profit. And none of these deaths should have occurred. On Thursday, July 19th family and friends gathered at the levee in downtown Baton Rouge for a vigil to call for ac-

tion and recognition. These individuals deserved each of their deaths to have an independent investigation as a standard practice of law and policy. Each person who loses their freedom under the authority of the state still retains their right to be treated with dignity. And none of the individuals who died had been sentenced to the death penalty EXCEPT they did receive the death penalty. To learn more about changing the narrative please check out the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Mr. president and the art of the deal the u.S, pReSident ClaiMS to be such a great deal maker. He even has an autobiography titled The Art of the Deal. Does anyone other American citizen wonder why any time Trump meets with a foreign dictator, there are no note takers, and consequently, no official record? Is there any concern by any other American citizen that Trump has secret calls with Putin, and the only way we find out about these secret calls in the United States is through Russian media? Is there any concern by any other American citizen that man who said that he would declare China a currency manipulator in November of 2015, is now so concerned about Chinese jobs being lost that he is willing to ease restrictions on the notorious Chinese phone company, ZTE? By the way, ZTE is considered by United States intelligence to be a security risk, so much so that the

company is not allowed to sell goods on United States military bases. Why are all of his deals with foreign dictators done in secrecy? From the information that is subsequently released after one of these secret meetings or phone calls where there is no note taker, it seems that Trump’s greatest art is genuflection. That is why he left the summit in Singapore with nothing but empty commitments. North Korea left with a promise to halt joint military exercises, and according to North Korea run media, an ease in sanctions. That is why after a secret phone call with Putin, Trump wants Russia back in the G-7, although Russia was ejected for their annexation of Crimea. That is why Trump is concerned with the loss of Chinese jobs and wants to ease restrictions on ZTE in spite of the security concerns of United States intelligence.

There was a time in America when we demanded candor from our elected officials. Under Trump, a mendacious liar, that has changed. Trump insults our nation’s traditional

allies such Justin Trudeau of Canada, Emmanuel Macron of France, and Angela Merkel of Germany. He genuflects to foreign strong men like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, and

Xi Jinping. Trump’s next book should be entitled “The Art of the Kneel”. daRRyl RoBeRton Baton Rouge

12 / summer 2018

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