Gift Giving for the Culture

This pandemic’s push has birthed House of Favor–a brand that fuses faith and culture with gift-giving.

Shreveport floral designer Sharon Johnson heads to the Tournament of Roses Parade

At 11 years old, Sharon Johnson would decorate and create flowers from construction paper. “As I grew older, my passion for flowers continued to grow. It’s kind of in my DNA to be attracted to flowers,” said the Shreveport native.

Value of one: a 9-11 hero’s marker celebrates life, soothes personal grief

My dad and my hometown’s 9-11 fallen hero will be forever connected by their military service and the tiny plot of land in Lake Charles, La., they will share in perpetual care.

‘A true jewel of Shreveport’ has passed

Cynthia Hightower-Jenkins

“Cynthia Hightower-Jenkins was a true jewel of Shreveport who shared her wisdom and generosity with countless organizations and causes. She will be remembered for the compassion and love she always showed to others,” said Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins after the unexpected death of one of the city’s most revered and elegant businesswomen. The wife of … Continue reading

With filmmakers’ help, Scotlandville steps onto the international stage

Elders and leaders of the Scotlandville community in Baton Rouge often reminisce of a time when the area flourished with businesses, competitive schools, professional residents, and violence-free entertainment. They remember Scotlandville’s history as a successful community that was once the entry point for the slave trade and home to a cotton plantation. Only one Black … Continue reading

‘I hated, hated science’ until STEM NOLA

“My parents are happy for me and proud of me. They see that I have a passion for what I want to do.  This really feels like the way that I can help change the world,” said 17-year-old Jaelyn Carr

Supporting natural hair in La, a state without the CROWN Act

Nicollette M. Davis got her first hair relaxer when she was 5 years old. In her early 20s, she decided to cut off her chemically treated hair and return it to its natural state—a journey of self embrace with many emotional and physical ups and downs, she said. The movement to embrace natural hair has been … Continue reading

Someone etched her legacy in stone, shared it with free books and prayer

Rosa Audery Haney Plaza

Someone etched Rosa A. Haney’s legacy in stone then shared it with free books and prayer in the Eden Park community. With broken doors and soiled books, these free libraries have been added to a growing list of libraries in need of repair. Pensiri Elves are prepared to help.

Louisiana’s oldest Juneteenth celebrations return amid COVID, on heels of holiday legislation

In 1976, Baton Rougeans first celebrated Juneteenth with a parade. Then annual celebrations occurred sporadically in the capital city until historian Sadie Roberts-Joseph began hosting annual celebrations consistently in the late 1980s. Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, is a holiday celebrating the 1865 emancipation of all African … Continue reading

Rep. Jones pushes bill to extend early voting

A bill to extend early voting from seven to 10 days during presidential elections was approved unanimously by a House committee Wednesday, March 5. Rep. Frederick Jones, D-Monroe, offered his bill after the record voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election. Louisiana saw over 2.1 million people vote in November, and 986,000 of them voted … Continue reading

Larry Irvin is shaping the future, making teaching cool again

Brothers Empowered to Teach CEO Larry Irvin Jr. selected as a TED2021 Fellow

Norris Henderson, a long-time criminal-justice advocate, continues push to increase funding

In this spring’s legislative session, criminal justice advocates will be pushing for increased funding for public defenders and for changes in policing practices. Norris Henderson, the founder of Voice of The Experienced, a non-profit known as VOTE, said both areas represent crucial steps in reforming the state’s justice system and making it fairer for minorities. … Continue reading

Songs for Mama: Grieving son creates project a year after COVID loss

Ronaldo Hardy foursixtwenty

Grieving son creates music project dedicated to the experience of losing his mother to COVID-19. Ronaldo Hardy, of Baton Rouge, hopes to help others heal from similar losses.

Behind ‘Jozef Book and Brew’: What we’ve been reading, brewing, and enjoying

The Jozef Syndicate is a cooperative of creators, writers, illustrators, journalists, artists…mostly importantly, we are readers. Well-read, pleasure seeking, erudite readers. We select the books as part of our Jozef Book and Brew. We recently took on a challenge to use a reading journal while we indulge. Some of us have while others tapped out … Continue reading

Author honors sister with children’s adventure

Tyra T. Wilson has released her first children’s book, A’Tiffa’s Mystery Adventure, an adventure story that helps young readers develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The Ponchatoula native penned her first book in the honor of her late sister, A’Tiffa Wilson, who lost her battle to breast cancer in November of 2017. Published in late 2020, the … Continue reading

Showing the world its Blerds and -ish

There is a podcast for Black nerds that broadcasts out of Baton Rouge. It’s Blerd-ish!. It’s hilarious. That’s it. That’s the story. Well, there is more to it than that, of course, but words in an article alone could not fully capture the experience listeners and guests have when Keith Cooper and Mark Wallace take … Continue reading

Chad Barnes Jr. advocates for young patients, OLOL hospital

Every year, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals chose a champion to serve as the ambassador for their local hospital. For Baton Rouge, that champion is Chad Barnes Jr, the 2020-2021 CMN Ambassador for Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. He is the spokesperson for the children’s hospital and helps host events and raise money for kids who … Continue reading

Don’t make another mistake, Snoop Dogg, read the ballot

Intense get-out-the-vote momentum is growing for November third, the day we Americans will cast our votes and “claim” who we want to serve as our 46th president. For first time voters like rapper Snoop Dogg who mistakenly believed he was not eligible to vote, the day has more significance than many media are reporting since many states have multiple races on their ballots. In Louisiana, each vote will critically impact city councils, judgeships, and the state constitution. First time voters will make a difference. But, do they understand that? And will they read the ballot? Organizations like the Baker-Zachary Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, and PAR Louisiana have released voter info and are hosting forums to help voters understand amendments.

Parenting during this pandemic requires an ‘anointing’ many already possess

With today’s coronavirus pandemic, parents and grandparents are facing a crisis never before seen. From dealing with health fears, sharp shifts to virtual learning, job losses, and political protests, parenting youth today–in a world that’s vastly changing–has become more challenging and overwhelming. Nearly half of parents of children under age 18 said their stress levels … Continue reading

An artist’s angst: Using fan art for honor and release

George Floyd by Antoine Mitchell

Louisiana artist Antoine GHOST Mitchell chose art alchemy and fan art to process George Floyd’s murder and erupting protests. This feature is Pensiri: A Talk with Antione Mitchell

Painting protests and pandemic: From canvas to masks

It’s not folk art, but Tedism. It is the unique style of art and storytelling by Ted Ellis. For nearly 30 years, Ellis’ art unfolds and celebrates the traditional values of Black culture and lifestyle. He has beautifully captured that lifestyle on large canvas and prints. In the energy of this year’s drastic lifestyle changes for … Continue reading

Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith awarded national fellowship

Louisiana Poet Laureate and Southern University professor John Warner Smith has been awarded the prestigious Academy of American Poets’ Laureate Fellowship, given to honor poets of literary merit serving in civic positions around the country. Smith joins 23 other poets around the country who received a Laureate Fellowship. He received $50,000 as part of the award to produce … Continue reading

When it’s time to ‘see someone,’ online therapy could be the best choice

From her virtual private practice in Baton Rouge, Shameka Mitchell Williams helps people who are overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted. Her focus is singular: help them recover from pernicious experiences and toxic relationships.

Shreveport native wins Pulitzer Prize

Shreveport native Jericho Brown ((born Nelson Demery III)has won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his collection “The Tradition,” which the Pulitzer board deemed “a collection of masterful lyrics that combine delicacy with historical urgency in their loving evocation of bodies vulnerable to hostility and violence.” His poetry has been featured in The Bennington Review, Buzzfeed, … Continue reading

Eight Southern University leaders join health equity task force

Southern University System will have eight representatives on Governor John Bel Edwards Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. The task force, which will meet for the first time on Friday, April 24, will focus on research and actions to improve health outcomes and equity for the state’s residents in response to COVID-19. The group’s progress … Continue reading

1,095 days and counting: One doctor’s frustration unfolds into Instagram excellence

By all accounts, every day of February is laced with creative lessons on Black history. From teachers decorating their classroom doors with fantastical imagery to daily posts of famous quotes and musical introductions by Black artists, the month is full of presentations of Black success. But few -—if any—- have matched the diligence of Rani … Continue reading

ON-AIR: Broadcasters and hosts covering COVID Louisiana

According to the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, there are more than 300 broadcast journalists in the state. From them, Jozef Syndicate staff selected four journalists and two news talkshow hosts who are using their platforms to keep listeners engaged and updated especially during the coronavirus pandemic. These shows are eye-openers and help Louisianians feel as … Continue reading

Training Junior Cosmetologists

Dana Hayes, a native of Port Allen, was inspired to start and create Junior Cosmetology because of her mother, Ora Lee Breax Williams, who was a hairstylist. Now, at 40-years-old, Hayes has taken that interest and passion into a classroom where she teaches young girls how to care for, protect, and have pride in their natural, healthy hair. … Continue reading

Muralist immortalizes architect Julian T. White, LSU’s first Black professor

Robert Dafford painting Julian White

When Julian T. White joined LSU’s faculty in 1971 to teach architecture, he paved a way for people of all backgrounds to have equal opportunity. The mural in the collets atrium honors the legacy of the first Black professor at Louisiana State University.

A Louisiana girl with California wine

Dawna Jones, Ph.D., remembers having an amazing childhood in Opelousas with her parents, Randolph and Priscilla Darjean, and three siblings. But one distinct memory may have unintentionally guided the 43-year-old plant pathologist into the winemaking business. “My mother dabbled in making various fruit wines when I was very young, but I do not remember assisting in the process aside … Continue reading

Kristen Downing’s art — fueled by social, political climate — will exhibit at SU

Kristen Downing uses her art in the way protesters use their voice, leaders use their influence, and nations use their power.

‘The American Audit’ exposes America as a 400-year-old business and its toll on Black citizens

Donney Rose’s provocative project, called ‘The American Audit,’ gets to the root of Black American’s dehumanization and explores the why and how. The performance is Feb. 28 at the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge

Students, teachers use self-efficacy to master learning, show the world ‘we are intelligent’

Education scholars like Erin Wheeler Ph.D., executive director of College Beyond, and Calvin Mackie Ph.D. of STEM NOLA have said a student’s “belief” is critical for their success. This belief, which is called “self-efficacy,” is the belief in one’s ability to complete a chosen, specific task. Because this belief “fuels students,” it is part of the education model at T.M. Landry College Prep in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Separate, unequal, and dismal: Urban League rekindles leaders’ commitments to improve public schools 

The Urban League of Louisiana released an equity report examining the quality of Baton Rouge public schools and identifying gaps in outcomes, access, and excellence. Calling the findings “dismal” and “concerning,” several education stakeholders were present at the McKinley Alumni Center for a press conference and panel discussion to present data from the Advancing Educational … Continue reading

Minister addresses controversy around latest R&B release ‘Emoji’

We really have to unlearn what we have been trained to believe is Ministry. We’ve been taught that ministry is Worship music only…. My God is not in a box and if God is really going to reach this generation then Chance the Rapper is just as important as Tye Tribbett. Kanye West is just as anointed as Kirk Franklin. 

BJT Ledet’s ‘The Christians’ features 1960s Louisiana love story

With much anticipation,B.J.T Ledet,a Baton Rouge educator, has released the first a new adult, religious romance trilogy: The Christians. The Christians, book one, follows the life and love of Mary Jean Woods, a young, Christian woman in 1960 South Louisiana as she maneuvers through self-discovery, unrighteousness, and betrayal in hopes to find a true spiritual identity. … Continue reading

Toni Morrison, Baton Rouge’s bench and ‘seeing myself’

Toni Morrison’s work impacted the lives of many people, including my own. As a Black student at predominately White university, it was hard for me to see myself on the required texts by Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton. It wasn’t until I took a course called, “Toni Morrison and Others,” that I saw myself.

Hundreds honor slain civil rights icon, museum founder remembered for living a life of purpose

Hundreds of people including Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, other elected officials, community leaders, and even residents who barely knew Sadie Roberts-Joseph filled the pews at Living Faith Christian Center to say goodbye to a woman who was remembered for living a life of purpose. “What she has done … Continue reading

When Grandpa leaves land, he leaves legacy. Pensiri: A Talk with Nicolette ‘FarmHer Missy’ Gordon

A young pioneer in Internet radio, Nicolette “Missy” Gordon started MissyRadio.com in 2011, trending through an online business model that had only surfaced on the national scene.  The path made sense for a 20-something broadcast journalist who’d been “on the air” with Citadel Broadcasting’s WEMX-FM Max 94.1 for years. From there, she went on the … Continue reading

Invisible Warriors: Photo exhibit reveals the truth behind invisible illnesses

When photographer and writer Leslie D. Rose is told “oh, but, you look good! ” it is not a compliment. For many people living with invisible illnesses, very rarely do they “look sick.” And quite often, there is no celebration in looking like they are disease-free when beneath the surface their bodies are fighting debilitating … Continue reading

‘It made me feel like a failure that I could not protect her’

According to the national Human Trafficking Hotline, 71 cases of human trafficking have been reported in Louisiana since January. One mother of a 13-year-old victim said, “There is a trending behavior of people–especially kids–looking for a certain type of love to fit in that they are being so easily manipulated.

Pensiri: A Talk with Cristian Hardy, co-pastor, Love Alive Church

This feature, ‘Pensiri: A Talk with..,’ is a fascinating spotlight using narrative interviews and quick peeks into the interesting and unique lives of “average” human beings. In this post, Leslie D. Rose talks with Cristian Hardy, pastor of Love Alive Church in Baton Rouge.

Baton Rouge’s Chenese Lewis ‘honored’ to host famed international beauty show

Show makes its Louisiana debut, March 30-April 1 Positive-body image advocate Chenese Lewis will be the mistress of ceremonies on the main stage of the Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show in New Orleans. Lewis, a Baton Rouge native and resident, is a veteran hostess and MC whose career spans more than a decade nationally. She was … Continue reading

The Square Collection gets first public showing in West Baton Rouge

Graduates of Grambling State University, where they met, Lawrence and Gay Square started collecting art 40 years ago. Today, the couple’s private collection is on display at the West Baton Rouge Museum through March 24. The Square Collection features fine art from some of America’s most distinguished artists including 20 centerpieces which are figurative sculptures by the internationally … Continue reading

Women in state law enforcement leave indelible footprints

There are countless Louisianans who have contributed significantly to our state and nation’s history.  They are the trailblazers and pioneers who have left an indelible imprint that continues to inspire. Among the most well-trained law enforcement officers in the country, Black female Louisiana State Troopers are proudly and courageously paving the way for others to … Continue reading

‘A Lucky Man’ wins Ernest Gaines Award for Literacy Excellence

Jamel Brinkley’s  collection of nine short stories has won the 2018 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Set in Brooklyn and the South Bronx where the writer spent his youth before graduating from Columbia University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the stories in A Lucky Man explore the charged, complex ties between boys and … Continue reading

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

At 62, Meta Smith-Davis is often celebrated as a hero for her work with HIV/AIDS. The self-described to’ up from the flo’ up, ex-con, drug-addicted, homeless Black woman living with HIV, says, “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.

Fashions’ ‘Next Big’ designers hail from Baton Rouge

When it comes to fashion destinations Baton Rouge is city that could be at the bottom of the list, but Christopher John Rogers and Oonarissa Brown-Bernard are changing that. Besides dominating the charts this year?  What do Cardi B and Sza have in common? They turn to Rogers for his 80’s glamour meets punk rock … Continue reading

With HIV rates topping the nation, Baton Rouge needs HAART, Open Health, and PreP

In a city with the highest rates of newly diagnosed HIV cases in the nation, is HAART positioned to slow down the spread of the virus that cause AIDS?

Baton Rouge study looks at whether exercise improves memory for older Blacks

Scientists at LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center are recruiting participants for a study on dementia prevention in older Blacks. The project is unique because few studies to date specifically developed behavior change interventions for older Blacks that target preventing dementia, said Robert Newton, Ph.D., who designed the project with Owen Carmichael, Ph.D. “The goal of … Continue reading