Dr. Richard Haymaker, President

Ms. Marjorie Green, Vice President

Dr. Joyce Robinsion, Secretary

Dr. Daniel Yannitell, Treasurer

Rev. Philip Woodland, Immediate Past      President

 

Mr Leslie Burris. Bd. 2005 & Asst. Sec.

Dr. James Cross, Bd. 2005

Dr. Rogers Newman, Bd. 2005

Mr. Tom Clemons, Bd. 2006

Dr. Jehad Mahmoud, Bd. 2006

Ms. Patrice Niquille, Bd. 2006

Mrs. Joyce Robinson, Bd. 2006 & Secretary

Dr. Thelma Deamer, Bd. 2007

Mr. Doug Leyda, Bd. 2007

Dr. Margaret Pereboom, Bd. 2007

Mr. Roosevelt Stevenson, Bd. 2007

Rev. Glorious Wright, Bd. 2007


 

This year the Baton Rouge Council on Human Relations has continued its long tradition of advocating for action on progressive issues that can improve the lives of all people in our community, our state and our country.

 

Note that we now have a website www.brchr.org.   It is current and will be updated regularly.  This report will be posted and one can find much supporting information about the Council there.

Annual Events

 

The program committee this year included,  Marjorie Green, Richard Haymaker (ex officio and convener), Doug Leyda, Jehad Mahmoud, Rogers Newman,  Margaret Pereboom, Phil Woodland, and Glorious Wright.

 

Three Fall Forums in October   In partnership with the Working Interfaith Alliance (WIN), the council cosponsored two well-attended local runoff candidate forums: (1) MetroCouncil District 2 runoff between Ulysses “Bones” Addison and Joe Jenkins on October 18 (attendance 175) and (2) Between Mayor-President runoff candidates Melvin “Kip” Holden and Bobby Simpson on October 25 (attendance 285).

 

The council on October 28 cosponsored with LSU’s Wesley Foundation a Presidential Election Forum featuring speakers Jim Richardson, Director of the LSU’s Public Administration Institute and of Baton Rouge’s Public Affairs Research Council, and Professor of Economics; Margaret Reames, LSU Department of Environmental Studies; and David Sobek, LSU Department of Political Science.  The presentation was balanced and enlightening.  On subjects of their academic expertise, the speakers explained the reasoning for positions of both candidates.            The October 28 panel was followed by partisan presentations by Sean Riecke, Chairman of the Republican Party of East Baton Rouge Parish; and Dana Peterson, Chairman of the Kerry-Edwards Louisiana Campaign.  Both gave lively talks.

 

Powell Reznikoff Humanitarian Awards Dinner,  April 7:    The Humanitarian Award Committee members were Mercedes Broussard, Leslie Burris, Dorothy Crockett, Hallique Dawson,Co-Chair,  Marjorie Green,Co-chair and Dan Yannitell.  The awards this year went to Johnnie A. Jones, Sr. & Martha White, Baton Rouge Bus Boycott activists and  Gertrude “Trudi” K. Meyers, community activist.    Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden was to be our speaker but was unable to return in time from a trip to Taiwan.  His Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, Alfred Williams gave the talk instead. The Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church Bell Choir under the direction of Kathleen Hutcherson performed.   And there was a presentation by Loraine Murtishaw of Ingleside United Methodist Church.      Dorothy Crockett arranged the very fine meeting room at the Blue Cross/Blue Shield center.   A special thanks for this successful occasion in the life of the Council celebrating  the people in the community that serve as role models to all of us. 

 

Annual Meeting:  (June 19, 2004).  The Annual Meeting committee members were Evelyn Albert, James Cross, chair,  Laurabeth Hicks, Rogers Newman and Patrice Niquille.   We had a joint meeting with the Louisiana Council on Human Relations.  The speakers were Professors Raymond T. Diamond and Alfreda Sellars-Diamond on the topic of Brown vs. the Board of Education.  The Oliver-Sigur Humanitarian Awards were presented at the meeting.  The awards went to Wilma Subra, an environmental activist  and to Ernest J. Gaines, renowned writer.

 

Istrouma High Awards:   Joyce Robinson,  served as the Istrouma High Awards committee.  Awards of $50 each went to John Weathers for Academics, to Trinesha Christy for Attendance, and to Michael Dunn for Most Improved.    These students were very gracious in receiving these checks and knew that someone had paid attention to the different behaviors and levels that they had reached by the time they were seniors.

Other Initiatives and Events

 

Voices of Civil Rights Bus Tour Comes to Baton Rouge  Starting in Washington, D.C. and stopping at 39 cities along the route of the 1961 Freedom Rides to Mississippi, this group stopped in Baton Rouge August 26.   The tour, a project of the AARP, included interviewers and journalists.  Among those who told their stories in video interviews were Baton Rouge Council members James E. Cross, Marjorie Green, Richard Haymaker, and Paul Y. Burns.  Storytellers on the program were Johnnie Jones, Sr., Hazel Freeman, Mildred Clark, and Freddy Pitcher.  The History Channel did the filming, planning a one-hour documentary to air in February 2005.          Haymaker, BRCHR President, brought the new BRCHR website, www.brchr , to the attention of the project leaders, hoping it will become a link on their website.  The BRCHR website has our history posted with many stories.  Please log on the Voices website, www.voicesofcivilrigts.org.  Tell your story. Stories will be archived by the prestigious Library of Congress.

 

Special Event Honors Civil Rights Attorney Johnnie Jones, Sr.   The Council publicized the an event  “Challenges to Law and Life: Portrait of a Pioneer Civil Rights Attorney” was the title of a special event honoring Johnnie Jones, Sr. at the Southern University Law School on November 5.  Jones was the lead attorney for the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott, he  represented the original plaintiffs in the EBR Parish school desegregation case, and defended students who held Baton Rouge’s first sit-in.  A longtime friend of Paul Burns, who related  memories of Johnnie at the special event, Jones served on the Boards of Directors of the Baton Rouge and Louisiana Councils on Human Relations.  He responded movingly to the accolades.

 

Citizen Lobbying  with Southern Mutual Help Association   In October, members of the Baton Rouge Council sent letters opposing the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) proposed changes which will hurt low-income Louisiana citizens.  The action was requested by Sr. Helen Vinton, Southern Mutual Help Association, New Iberia, one of LCHR’s sister organizations.

 

Cooperation with a New Civil Rights Organization, Equity!Baton Rouge  Several members of the BRCHR board are working closely with Equity!Baton Rouge, incorporated in May 2004.  The new organization has a similar mission: “To build unity and racial justice throughout the Baton Rouge community.”  Its origins can be traced to programs of the Casey Family Foundation in Baton Rouge, which over the last decade has sponsored “Undoing Racism” workshops provided by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond.  LCHR will serve as fiscal agent for Casey Foundation grant funds until Equity!BR obtains 501(c)(3) status, projected to be in mid-2005.

 

DeBose Competition,  30th Anniversary  Southern University has hosted the Tourgee DeBose National Piano Competition for 30 years in Baton Rouge.   The Council helped publicize the event.

 

WXOK radio show  Our board member Rev. Glorious Wright has a weekly radio show on WXOK 1460AM on Sunday mornings at 10:00AM.  Council Members Richard Haymaker and Hallique Dawson have been guests on the program  publicizing events and activities of the Council.

 

Meeting with Congressman Richard Baker  The Baton Rourge Council took the lead in organizing a meeting of a number of  organizations with Congressman Richard Baker as a citizen lobbying effort of about 12 community leaders to ask that the federal budget not be balanced on the backs of the poor.  On Mar. 22, 2005,  we met with the congressman for 30 minutes.

 

Letters to Public Officials   The president of the Council sent letters to  the following public officials as directed by the board:   A congratulatory letter to Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden;   A thank you letter to Gov. Blanco for signing Executive Order No. KBB 2004-54, State Prohibition Against Harassment and Discrimination.  In particular we appreciate including “sexual orientation” along with race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation or disabilities;  An advocacy letter to Superintendent of Schools Charlotte D. Placide concerning the appointment of an educational leader that would promote the ideals of the Council.  The letter was drafted by Council board member Patrice Niquille.

 

Continuing activities of Abraham’s Salon – Noah’s Pudding   Muslims   from Turkey living in Baton Rouge invited members of the University United Methodist Church  and other friends  to share in their traditional “Noah’s Pudding”  Festival,  Saturday,  March 5,  7:00 PM in the Fellowship Hall of University United Church.  The evening was an outgrowth of the  “Abraham Salon”  sponsored by the  Greater Baton Rouge Federation of Churches and Synagogues and co-sponsor-ed by the BR Council  starting two years ago.  It is hoped the evening helped to tear down barriers of fear and suspicion,  and build bridges of understanding and trust. There was a brief discussion of the points of similarity and difference among the three monotheistic religions claiming Abraham as father,  Jewish, Christian and Muslim.

 

YWCA  Racial Justice Award Program.   The Council was a partner for this, the 12th annual award breakfast.   The award went to Maxine Crump who has had a lifetime of service to eliminate racism.  She was a driving force for many years for the YWCA’s Dialogues on Race. The focus was to redefine racism in its institutional context and to explore its impact in day-today Baton Rouge life.  Over 400 people have participated in the dialogues.   Maxine was the first black woman to reside in the LSU dormitories.   She was also the first black anchor on WAFB television.    Willie Johnson was the speaker on the topic The Power of Dialogue.

 

Children’s Coalition:  The Council continues to be amember of the Children’s Coalition of Greater Baton Rouge with a reduced membership fee negotiated by Richard Haymaker.

In Appreciation

 

I wish to thank the many officers and board members who have been mentors to me.   The large number of names in italics in this report indicate the breath of commitment in the Council.   On behalf of the Council I wish to express our gratitude to all of you and for other contributions including:

 

Joyce Robinson  and  Leslie Burris for taking careful minutes of all meetings,

 

Dan Yannitell for keeping records of our funds.

 

Joyce  Robinson and Thelma Deamer  of the membership committee,

 

Thelma Deamer, James Cross and Roosevelt Stevenson for the annual meeting -2005,

 

Glorious Wright and Leslie Burris, for publicity,

 

Dan Yannitell  chaired the Nominating Committee, which also included  Mercedese Broussard ,Glorious Wright, Leslie Burris and Laurabeth Hicks.

 

Joe McCarty and Paul Burns for putting out the newsletter,

 

Dan Yannitell, Phil Woodland, Joyce Robinson, Marjorie Green, Leslie Burris, Jim Cross, Rogers Newman and Margaret Pereboom for hosting our meetings,

 

And to the many people who  prepared refreshments for our events.

 

Our Future Efforts

 

In the coming year we are ready to build on the efforts to enhance communications among all organizations in the area that work on racial justice. 

 

It is an honor to be part of the work of the Council, 

Richard Haymaker

June 11, 2005