NEWSLETTER OF THE

LOUISIANA COUNCIL                                                                                                                        BATON ROUGE COUNCIL

ON HUMAN RELATIONS                                                                                                     ON HUMAN RELATIONS

Volume 40, Issue 2                                                                                                                                          Volume 39, Issue 2

Paul Y. Burns, Interim Editor                                                                                                                Second Quarter, 2004

 

Annual Meetings Held June 19

                The joint annual meeting of LCHR and the Baton Rouge Council was held June 19 at University Presbyterian Church, Baton Rouge.  The morning program, arranged by John V. White, was a discussion of: Brown v. Board of Education and Human Relations.  Panelists were Professors Raymond T. Diamond, Tulane Law School, and Alfreda Sellars-Diamond, Southern University Law Center.  James E. Cross presided and 28 persons attended.

                After lunch Patricia Rickels presented LCHR’s Oliver-Sigur Humanitarian Award to Ernest J. Gaines, Oscar; and Wilma Subra, New Iberia.  Subra is an environmental chemist and president of Subra Company, an environmental consulting firm she founded in 1981.  She serves on a number of Environmental Protection Agency national advisory committees.  She has worked for many years for environmental justice, particularly in the petrochemical corridor around Baton Rouge.  Gaines, a retired ULL Writer-in-Residence, is well known for his novels, “The Autobiography of Jane Pittman,” “A Lesson Before Dying,” and others.  Through his work he has conveyed the insidious effects of racism, without moralizing.  The recipients responded appropriately.

                Business meetings, LCHR then the Baton Rouge Chapter, were held after the awards presentation.  LCHR Board members elected: Class of 2004 re-elected to class of 2007: Eva Baham, Slidell; Thelma Deamer, Baton Rouge; Kathleen Sparrow, Lafayette; John Mikell, Lafayette; Huel D. Perkins; Baton Rouge; Ted Hayes, Lafayette; Peter Bonhomme, Breaux Bridge.  New members for class of 2007: Richard Haymaker and Elnur Musa,

                BRCHR officers elected were Richard Haymaker, President & Membership Secretary; Marjorie Green, Vice President; Daniel Yannitell, Treasurer; Joyce Robinson, Secretary; Leslie Burris, Assistant Secretary.  Board members elected to the class of 2007: Thelma Deamer, Douglas Leyda, Margaret Pereboom, Roosevelt Stevenson, Glorious Wright.  The Treasurer reported that income from dues and donations during the fiscal year 2003-04 was $1,770, and expenses were $2,054; the bank balance as of 6/04 was $836.  President Haymaker distributed copies of his annual report.

 

LCHR Board Holds April Meeting

                The Board of Directors of LCHR held its regular April meeting in the office of Dr. Patricia Rickels on the ULL campus in Lafayette.  Treasurer Paul Burns presented a financial report showing the council was in good shape: April 3 balances were $376.09 in checking and $1,707.50 in a Money Market Certificate.  It was decided to hold the annual meeting Saturday, June 19 in Baton Rouge.  Baton Rouge members of the Board were asked to plan the meeting.  Board members noted that June 19 is “Juneteenth.”   Recipients of the Oliver-Sigur award were selected The third quarter Board meeting was planned for July 17 at the home of Doris and M. Overton White in Plaisance. 

 

What is Juneteenth?

                Few white folks and not all blacks can answer this question.  Juneteenth began as a celebration of the end of slavery in Texas.  On June 19, 1865, A Union Army general arrived in Galveston, Texas. He announced that the Civil War had ended and that all slaves were freed through President Lincoln’s 1963 Emancipation Proclamation. 

                That evening, thousands in Galveston danced, sang, and feasted.  Other southern cities began to celebrate on June 19.  On January 1, 1980 Juneteenth was designated an official state holiday in Texas.  Now, Juneteenth is celebrated throughout the U.S. with parades, picnics, ball games, and family reunions.

 

Death of Dr. Ralph Mason Dreger

                Professor Emeritus of Psychology at LSU, and ordained Methodist minister, Dr. Dreger died May 7 at age 91.  Words are inadequate to describe Dr. Dreger’s contributions to LCHR and to the Baton Rouge Council on Human Relations.  He was one of the first members of LCHR in 1964, and in February 1965 he was cofounder of the Baton Rouge Council.  He was on the LCHR and BRCHR Boards continuously until he reached the age of 80, serving as president of LCHR, chairman of the BRCHR, and chairman of a number of committees. His dedicated work as newsletter editor of the BRCHR extended over a long period of years, and he was known in Baton Rouge for his frequently published letters to the editor of The Advocate.  Most of them dealt with human relations.  Once, when

his friend Paul Burns mentioned these frequent letters, Ralph rejoined, “Actually, they only publish half of the letters I submit!’  Dr. Dreger began his activism against discrimination when he spoke out against the internment of

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Japanese-Americans during WW II.  He received the Benjamin Smith award from the Louisiana ACLU Foundation and the Powell-Reznikoff Humanitarian award from the BRCHR,

 

Memorial Donations Received

                Donations in memory of Dr. Ralph Dreger, Mrs. Dorothy Newman, and Mrs. Kathleen Burns have been received and much appreciated by the Louisiana Council on Human Relations.

 

Louisiana Reluctant to Reform Juvenile Corrections System

                An official of the Annie E. Casey Foundation told Louisiana’s Juvenile Justice Implementation Commission in May that the foundation may withdraw its offer of more than $3 million in services because the state’s administration seems to resist fixing the juvenile Bridge City prison by use of a plan used in Missouri. The Casey Foundation likes the Missouri juvenile corrections system, in which offenders don’t serve in prisons; they are treated in dorms or homes close to their hometowns.

                David Utter, executive director of the nonprofit Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, approved the Casey project.  He pointed out that in Louisiana, 70% of juveniles released from prison return in five years.  He said that in Missouri the five-year recidivism rate is between 10 and 30 %.

 

Rupert Richardson and Marion Overton White Inducted into Halls of Fame in May

                Ms. Richardson, former NAACP state and national president, was inducted into the Louisiana Black History Hall of Fame Museum for an outstanding career in the field of civil rights.  She is a longtime BRCHR member who served a term on its board of directors.  Congratulations, Rupert!

                And congratulations to Marion Overton White, who was inducted into the Southern University Law Center’s Hall of Fame.  Mr. White is a well-known civil rights attorney in the Opelousas area and a longtime LCHR member.  He is perhaps best known to LCHR board members as Doris White’s husband and John V. White’s father.

 

Moratorium Campaign Now Aligned with Equal Justice USA

                Sr. Helen Prejean, founder of The Moratorium Campaign, has announced that after four years this organization is closing its office doors and joining with Equal Justice USA in order to have a unified campaign against the death penalty, which is government-sanctioned killing.  Sr. Helen is working on a second book, The Machinery of Death: an Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in America.

                Equal Justice USA is a project of the Quixote Center, which educates citizens about issues of crime and punishment in the U.S.  The group brings into public focus the racial, economic, and political biases that permeate our legal system, seeking to build support for a humane and effective alternative public policy.  Equal Justice USA operates three programs: Moratorium Now! is its primary campaign, working state by state to mobilize grassroots support for an immediate halt to executions.  The GrassRoots Investigation Project has released a handbook for defendants about the justice system, and The DC Books to Prisons Project donates reading material to prisoners.

                More information is available on the Equal Justice website: www.quixote.org/ejhttp://www.quixote.org/ej

 

Bush’s War on the Poor

                President Bush is acting to benefit economic elites, stealthily undercutting government’s commitments to the least fortunate among us.  He has shifted the tax burden away from the wealthy, and he has created incentives for states to cut back on their relief-for-the poor programs.

                Bush’s economic programs are neither conservative nor compassionate.  The U.S. power structure has ignored the ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr., who sadly told the U.S. Senate shortly before he was assassinated: “The values of the marketplace supersede the goals of social justice.”

 

Women Can’t be Excluded from Country Club Dining Rooms if Public Accommodations

                Julie Lafargue went to the Men’s Grille of Shreveport’s Southern Trace Country Club for a bite to eat.  Denied service, a standard policy because she was a woman, she filed suit.  The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal held that women should not be excluded from country club dining rooms deemed to be public accommodations.  The case may have far-reaching implications.

                About 35 years ago a similar case was litigated in Lafayette, concerning the Petroleum Club, which excluded women from its dining room.

 

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Toxic Waste in Treme?

                Treme is an inner-city neighborhood in New Orleans, between North Rampart and I-10.  A recent gentrification process is turning up some ugly things.  There is anecdotal evidence of cancer clusters near former chemical manufacturing and use areas in Treme.  A thorough investigation is needed.

                A peace and justice group known as “C-3" has recently been formed in New Orleans and is interested in bringing environmental justice to the people of this low-income area. 

 

Racist Laws in Louisiana Negated

                Finally, the segregationist-era laws passed in November 1960 have been erased from Louisiana laws.  A recent law was passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Blanco, repealing these laws, which were held unconstitutional by a federal judge after taking effect.  One law gave the governor the power to shut down public schools rather than force them to desegregate.  It’s about time for Louisiana to really turn its back on segregation!

 

BATON ROUGE HUMAN RELATIONS NEWS ITEMS

Baton Rouge Council has a Website

                The BRCHR has a new site on the world-wide web: www.brchr.org.  Managed by President Richard Haymaker, announcements of public and membership events will be posted, as well as links to news articles connected to the Council.  There will be links to the LCHR website and  the LSU Library archive on the BRCHR.

If you have access to the Internet, please look at the site.  In so doing you will help search engines such as google.com find the site; search engines order the search results based on the number of “hits” a site gets.

                The website is a resource for the new “Baton Rouge Advocacy Coalition for Economic and Racial Justice,” an initiative of the BRCHR.  Brief descriptions of member organizations along with contact information and links to their websites are posted.  The Coalition’s founding members include the YWCA of Greater Baton Rouge, Working Interfaith Network of Greater Baton Rouge, the Greater Baton Rouge Federation of Churches and Synagogues, and Bienville House Center for Peace and Justice.  Their information is now posted on the website and will serve as a seed for expansion.

 

Rally for Children on Steps of Louisiana Capitol

                On April 20 the BRCHR cosponsored a rally on the Capitol steps: “Stand up for Children,” in which Governor Blanco spoke.  With Phil Woodland taking the lead, the Council proposed last December that it time its spring forum to coincide with the legislative session, using the theme of funding for children’s issues.  The Council joined the Children’s Coalition and teamed up with them to organize the event.  Seventy organizations joined as partners, the Council being listed as number two behind the Children’s Coalition.  It was the right idea at the right time.  Hundreds of people attended and Governor Blanco fully supported the group’s message.  See the Council’s website for a link to The Advocate story about the event.http://www.brchr.org

 

BRCHR’s “Adopted” School Awards

                Three Istrouma High School students received $50 awards from the BRCHR this spring: Joy Foster Most Improved, Amber Walker Perfect Attendance, and Pam Hughes Academic.  These students were gracious in receiving these checks, knowing that someone had paid attention to their achievements.

 

Interfaith Meeting Cosponsored by Baton Rouge Council

                One of the purposes of the Baton Rouge Council on Human Relations is to encourage better understanding among those of differing religions.  The Council joined the Greater Baton Rouge Federation of Churches and Synagogues in interfaith meetings during April and May.

                The gatherings were appropriately called “Abraham’s Salon,” since the biblical character Abraham is important to Jews, Muslims, and Christians.  Adherents of these three faiths met on every other Sunday afternoon in April and May.  The group focused on a book by Bruce Feiler: “Abraham, Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths.”  Meetings took place at synagogues, mosques, and churches.  Nearly fifty people participated.

                The participants learned from each other.  Bridges of trust and understanding were built.  Plans are to start one or more Abraham Salons this fall and to continue on a monthly basis the group which met this spring.

 

Promoting Unity Between Black and White Fraternities

                Readers will be pleased to learn of an event held in LSU’s Greek Theater this spring.  All LSU’s fraternity

 

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and sorority organizations were invited to participate.  Only seven sororities and one fraternity responded.  Nevertheless, white students and black students sang, danced, cheered, and hugged together.

 

Southern University Diplomas Awarded after 44 Years

                Remember the 1960 sit-ins?  S.U. students helped desegregate restaurants across the country by entering the Kress department store in downtown Baton Rouge and taking seats at the “whites only” lunch counter.  The next day other S.U. students integrated the Greyhound Bus and Sitman’s Drug Store lunch counters.

                No big deal?  It was in 1960.  Arrested for “disturbing the peace,” the students were expelled by then-president Felton Clark. This spring the courageous students received honorary degrees from Southern.

 

Baton Rouge YWCA’s 2004 Racial Justice Award goes to Bill Dickerson

                Dickerson, a 79-year-old Baton Rougean, received this award for working for many years to eliminate racism.  He also has a long history of good works, and he has helped in poor in numerous Third World countries.  He marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Dues are Due

                Dues are due for the year July 1, 2004 - June 30, 2005.  Members of the Baton Rouge Council (a chapter of LCHR) are automatically members of LCHR.  Dues are $20 family, $15 individual, $1 student or low income.  If you joined in 2004, you will not owe dues until July 1, 2005.  Members who paid dues after March 1, 2004 are considered to be paid up through June 30, 2005.  Contributions over and above dues are appreciated.  New members are sought–those who agree with our purposes of equality of opportunity and improved human relations.

                Baton Rouge area: Make out checks to B.R. Council on Human Relations.  Send to: Richard Haymaker, 254 Nelson Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70808.

                Others: Make out checks to LCHR.  Send to: Paul Y. Burns, 2137 Cedardale, Baton Rouge, LA 70808.

 

               

 

Newsletter of the Louisiana Council on                                                                                                            Non-Profit Org.

Human Relations and the Baton Rouge                                                                                                    U.S. POSTAGE

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