“May you live in interesting times.” Our times today, while not as interesting as those in, say 1914, 1939, or 1861, nonetheless well bear out this illustrative, if apocryphal, Chinese curse. One longstanding issue, regretfully overshadowed by subsequent riots and the continuing pandemic, is that there are several military bases throughout the country named after Confederate leaders. That the U.S. Army has a fort named after Robert E. Lee and not Ulysses S. Grant, William Sherman or any of the other generals on the winning side at Appomattox has always amazed me. Even odder, none of the Army posts, save Fort Lee, were named after particularly competent Confederate leaders.
It is unfortunate that proposals to rename the bases are getting caught up with the heavy handed, and occasionally asinine, tearing down of statues and memorials. Attacking a statue of Abraham Lincoln freeing a slave, a statue paid for by freed slaves themselves and dedicated by Frederick Douglass in a ceremony attended by President Grant, would be amusingly paradoxical were it not for the accompanying atmosphere of violence.
It is equally unfortunate that the calls to rename the forts have also been overshadowed by the rioting in various cities across the nation. It is a depressing sign of our nation’s descent into historical illiteracy that one may see more Soviet flags being carried by Antifa in Portland and Seattle than in Moscow’s Red Square on Mayday. Where do they get them from now that the Soviet Union is no longer a going concern? Did some zampolit in the Red Army see a market opportunity some 30 years ago and snap up a supply? Did Antifa ring up the Russian embassy and offer to help clear out the attic? Some of the images of burned out cars, fire and destruction are more reminiscent of Beirut than of an American city.
The proposal to rename the Army installations has slipped from the news cycle. By comparison to riots, fires and what would be quite an impromptu laser show, were the people wielding them not attempting to blind police officers, footage of the front gate of Ft. Benning is dull by contrast and likely to remain so, an Army post being an unwise target for staging a riot. The news moves on in a relentless search for ratings.
Rename the installations. The decision was wrong to name them after Confederate officers and leaders when they were built. It is only become more improper over the intervening years.
Lee, Polk, Bragg, Rucker, Benning, Beauregard and the others all have a commonality that make them unworthy of having an installation of the United States’ Army named after them. They not only took up arms against their nation, they were leaders in the Confederacy. In the case of those that were serving military officers before the Civil War, they not only took up arms against their nation, they betrayed their oaths as military officers to “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…” Revisionist historians of the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy have remade Robert E. Lee into a saintly, larger than life figure, the very embodiment of nobility and honor. I am somewhat surprised there are no stained-glass renditions of him sporting a butternut colored halo. Nonsense! The moment these men donned a Confederate uniform, fought against the nation they had sworn allegiance to and led other men into battle against the United States, they lost the moral authority to a place of honor, of having a fort named after them.
Politicians have argued that the names should not change as generations of American heroes came from them in our nation’s time of need. That line of reasoning is not entirely correct. The Infantrymen who have served the United States in Battle since WWI may have come from Fort Benning, but they were not of Fort Benning. They served in the Big Red One, the 82nd & 101st Airborne, the Ranger Battalions and other units. The jody call whose refrain is “…patch on my shoulder…” does not mention Fort Benning, the patch on my shoulder is of the Infantry units.
“I carry America’s faith and honor against her enemies.” None of the men of the Confederacy the forts are named after could say that line from the Infantryman’s Creed. Rename the Forts!
Some things in life happen for a reason. I believe this is how I happened upon a father and his sons playing trumpets on the downtown riverbank on Thursday afternoon, July 30. Makalani O. Jones Sr. is teaching his sons Makalani Jr. and Olamide how to play trumpet while they’re visiting him for the summer. He’s a music teacher in Alexandria by day and a full time busker in his free time.
Makalani Sr. has been playing music since the boys, now 12 and 10, were in diapers. It only made sense to him that if he was going to teach them how to play trumpet, “they pick it up like milk and cereal.” So the product of three weeks of music instruction can be heard as songs from a variety of genres float through the humid summer air.
Teaching his sons while busking with them on the peaceful banks of Cane River Lake also serves to teach Makalani Jr. and Olamide how to be entrepreneurs. It’s their own version of a summertime lemonade stand.
They set up on the brick pathway in front of the Cane River Queen Riverboat and serenade passengers as they board, a tip jar at their feet.
The trio will be out Friday and Saturday, July 31- Aug. 1 from around 2-7 pm if anyone in town is interested in stopping by, listening to a few tunes, and throwing a tip in the boys’ bucket.
Listen closely and before each song you’ll hear them recite the following mantra:
Look to the left- Yes I can Look to the right- Yes I can Look up- Yes I can Look down- Well go on then Where are you going- Straight to the Top
“It’s a life motto,” said Makalani Sr. “It’s teaching them to have a work ethic. It’s teaching them entrepreneurship with a different type of lemonade stand.”
At a time when normal is absolutely not the norm, Makalani Sr. is trying to teach his sons that we’re all in the same quagmire where we have to find our own light at the end of the tunnel.
“We’ve got to look at things through a higher lens,” he said. “Creativity is my ray of light.”
Casey Hendricks has been named principal of the Northwestern State University Middle Lab School.
“NSU Middle Lab has a rich tradition. As the new principal, I will strive to continue those traditions as well as build new ones. This school has a special place in my heart, and I am proud to be a servant to it,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a minor in history at NSU in 1998 and obtained certification to teach grades 6-12 in 2005. He earned a master’s in education leadership at NSU in 2008 and +20 in 2019. This fall he will complete a doctorate degree in adult learning and development with a concentration in community college leadership through NSU.
Hendricks began his career as teacher and coach in 1999, teaching social studies and PE and coaching football and boys and girls basketball at Many Junior High. From 2003-2005, he taught social studies, civics and Spanish at St. Mary’s while coaching football, track and boys basketball at the junior high and high school level and was responsible for upgrading the school’s website. He taught history at Many High School from 2005-2006, coaching football, track and golf and working as a school improvement team member and a presenter for the Louisiana Social Studies Comprehensive Curriculum. He returned to St. Mary’s from 2006-2007 to teach social studies and civics and coached high school football and track, junior high boys basketball and track and served on the social studies curriculum design team.
Hendricks joined the staff at NSU Middle Lab in 2007 where he taught social studies and PE and coached football. He also served as RTI facilitator, school improvement team member and PBIS team member. He was named Teacher of the Year in 2014. From 2014-2016, Hendricks taught history at Natchitoches Central High School and was head golf coach, assistant varsity football coach/head freshman coach. He returned to NSU Middle Lab from 2016-2018 where he taught social studies and PE and was supervising teacher for teacher candidates and methods students. He was a leadership team member, PBIS team member, interim principal, head basketball coach and football coach.
Since 2018, he has been secondary social studies curriculum specialist for the St. Tammany Parish School Board, providing professional development to educators for social studies instruction, providing educators with updates to the state assessment and providing and creating resources for social studies educators that complement the state’s curriculum and standards. He was also able to collaborate with district personnel across all grade levels and subject areas to create opportunities for student success and participated in multiple quality assurance reviews to keep the district in AdvancED accreditation. Hendricks served on the LEAP 2025 8th grade social studies content and bias item review team (LDOE) and developed a rapport with teachers and administrators across the district. Most recently, he created five weeks of COVID-19 lesson plans for social studies grades 6-12 during quarantine and build Google classrooms for social studies grades 6-12 in preparation of schools starts for COVID-19.
“It is an honor and a privilege to have been selected as the fourth principal of Northwestern State Middle Lab School,” Hendricks said. “I look forward to building meaningful relationships with the students, parents, stakeholders and faculty. I also look forward to assisting in building a collaborative bridge between Northwestern State University and Natchitoches Parish Schools to develop and recruit new teachers to our district. I have a desire to provide learning opportunities not only to our students, but also to our teachers.”
“Middle Lab has a rich tradition and we are excited for Mr. Hendricks to extend and enrich that tradition,” said Grant Eloi, Natchitoches Parish Superintendent of Schools. “We know under his leadership middle lab will continue to grow and to be a beacon for high academic standards.”
NSU’s Middle Lab School is located at the university’s Teacher Education Center and provides engaging learning opportunities for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students as well as quality field experiences for many of Louisiana’s future teachers.
It is always nice to have a good shade tree on a hot summer day. Two weeks ago I officiated a wedding ceremony for my youngest niece in Augusta, Georgia. It was an outdoor wedding and it took place at 4:00 p.m. I’ve officiated many outdoor weddings over the years, but when the photographer tells you he needs to find a place to keep his camera and video equipment cool, you know it’s hot.
Following the ceremony, the coats and ties came off and everyone in attendance began looking for a good shade tree. It was really a beautiful wedding, but it may have set the record for hottest of all time! During the ceremony the Wedding director made sure we maintained social distancing guidelines but I’m not too sure they were observed as we crowded under the shade tree to find some relief from the sun.
After the wedding, we traveled to Virginia to visit family. My wife and I took our grandchildren to Colonial Williamsburg on a day that the local meteorologist described as the hottest day on record for the area. It was a bit funny when the guide began telling me about the “Tall Treasures” of Williamsburg. He explained how the trees were native to the area but most of them had been planted much later than the original colony period. The Colonists actually cut most of the trees down because they used the wood for carriage spokes, flooring, buckets, furniture, etc. He also informed us that many trees were cut down for open fields and crops. Then he said, “But praise the Lord in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s someone knew we would need some shade trees for today!”
The Compton Oak on Nicholson Street in Williamsburg is a massive tree. The Oak stands 70 feet tall and 97 feet wide; it’s trunk circumference is 14 feet. The tree is so massive that it is described as the coolest spot in town and it’s branches almost seem to invite you to take a break and sit awhile.
The reality is that most great shade trees were planted by someone who never enjoyed the blessing of sitting in its shade. It has been said that a good planter of shade trees is a person who is always focused on future generations. I’m not sure who actually planted the big oak, but my grandkids and I sure enjoyed the shade from it. Since returning home, I’ve had a desire to plant a few shade trees of my own. Even more, I hope my faith and love for family and friends will always be as inviting as the branches of that massive tree. How awesome it would be to have a home considered by others as a cool shade on a hot day. A home that seems to invite all who pass by to take a break and sit awhile!
The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) is excited to welcome the newest member of our faculty, Dr. Dalton Burks. He will teach Chemistry I and II and their corresponding labs, and brings a wealth of knowledge to pass on to our students.
Dr. Burks has spent the past year teaching general chemistry and inorganic chemistry as a visiting instructor at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. Before pursuing his Ph.D, he worked briefly as a chemist for a pharmaceutical company making medicine for animals.
He has his bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama, and his doctorate in inorganic chemistry from the University of Alabama.
“I’m excited to help LSMSA’s students take concepts they learn in lectures and apply them to experiments so they are able to get a better understanding of the material while having fun,” said Dr. Burks.
In his spare time, Dr. Burks enjoys reading fantasy and sci-fi novels, playing guitar and piano, going to the gym, and building his vinyl collection. He says he is excited to be back in the south where he can finally get a decent glass of sweet tea.
“We’re very glad to have Dr. Burks join us here at LSMSA,” said Executive Director Dr. Steve Horton. “Our students will love having an instructor who is so passionate about making science exciting and relatable.”
About LSMSA The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, a preeminent state-supported residential high school with competitive admissions for high-achieving, highly-motivated students, fosters in young scholars lifelong growth toward reaching individual potentials and finding places of work and service in a global society through the examination and exchange of ideas in a community of learners.
Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Cane River Creole National Historical Park is increasing recreational access to additional historic buildings at the park. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.
Beginning Friday, July 31, 2020, Cane River Creole National Historical Park will reopen access to the following historic buildings, with limited occupancy.
Oakland Plantation Overseer’s House Oakland Plantation North Slave/Tenant Cabin Magnolia Plantation Blacksmith Shop Magnolia Plantation Overseer’s House Magnolia Plantation Slave/Tenant Cabin Magnolia Plantation Gin Barn In addition, the following spaces continue to be available:
Oakland Plantation Grounds Magnolia Plantation Grounds Trails Visitor Parking Lots With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed at this time:
Oakland Plantation Store Oakland Plantation Main House Magnolia Plantation Store All public restrooms
The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Cane River Creole National Historical Park, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance, and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.
The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. The NPS will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.
The Ben Burger from the Legacy Café inspired the work of local artist Maximalion Tucker. He donated the t-shirt design to the Ben D. Johnson Educational Center & Legacy Café for a fundraiser.
“This delicious burger was chosen because it represents the BDJ Center. It shows quality ingredients brought together that are worth more than the sum of their parts” said Maximalion Tucker about his choice.
The Ben D. Johnson Educational Center is a nonprofit in Natchitoches that provides workforce training and increase access to healthy foods with the Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program, BDJ Garden, and Legacy Café.
Ben Burger T-shirts will go on sale beginning Aug. 3. Donors to the fundraiser have a choice of 6 preset Donation Levels or entering their own donation amount in the box marked “Other.” Every donation of $25 or more receives a Ben Burger T-shirt, along with additional benefits for larger donations.
There will be a Special Art Drawing for top donors to win the watercolor of the Ben Burger Design. This will be a one-of-a-kind piece, painted in the winner’s choice of color palette.
All funds raised will support young people ages 17-24 who are out of work and out of school with barriers to employment, by providing career development, life and leadership skills, and culinary training. The Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program will start its next cohort August 13, 2020.
The mission of Ben D. Johnson Educational Center is to build community in Natchitoches and give access to social and economic success for all of its residents.
For more information, please call 318-657-0300
Pictured above is Laura Lyles, Chamber President, in a green Legacy Ben Burger T-shirt.
At approximately 12: 23pm, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies and Natchitoches Parish Fire Protection District #7 responded to a vehicle fire on La. Hwy 485 near Mallard Hill Road in west Natchitoches Parish according to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies say the 2004 Ford pickup truck was a total loss.
The driver stated it appeared the fire originated with a tire failure.
A collection of essays on American novelist, editor and professor Toni Morrison (1931-2019) has been published by the University Press of Mississippi. The book was coedited by Dr. Holly Stave, a professor of English in the Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State University and preeminent Morrison scholar. The collection, entitled “New Critical Essays on Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child: Race, Culture, and History,” is the first scholarly collection to examine Morrison’s 11th novel, “God Help the Child,” published in 2015.
Stave’s chapter in the book is entitled “Identity and Trauma in God Help the Child.” Co-editors include Alice Knox Eaton, professor of English at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Maxine Lavone Montgomery, professor of English at Florida State University.
In “God Help the Child,” Morrison returned to several of the signature themes explored in her previous work: pernicious beauty standards for women, particularly African American women; mother-child relationships racism and colorism and child sexual abuse.
“God Help the Child” is set in the contemporary period, unlike all of her previous novels. The contemporary setting is ultimately incidental to the project of the novel, however; as with Morrison’s other work, the story takes on mythic qualities and the larger-than-life themes lend themselves to allegorical and symbolic readings that resonate in light of both contemporary and historical issues.
“New Critical Essays on Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child: Race, Culture, and History” takes on the novel in a nuanced and insightful analysis, interpreting the novel in relation to Morrison’s earlier work as well as locating it within ongoing debates in literary and other academic disciplines engaged with African American literature.
The volume is divided into three sections. The first focuses on trauma—both the pain and suffering caused by neglect and abuse, as well as healing and understanding. The second section considers narrative choices, concentrating on experimentation and reader engagement. The third section turns a comparative eye to Morrison’s fictional canon, from her debut work of fiction, “The Bluest Eye,” until the present. These essays build on previous studies of Morrison’s novels and deepen readers’ understanding of both her last novel and her larger literary output.
Stave has studied Morrison’s work since 1988 and been active in publishing and presenting articles on Morrison’s work. In writing about Morrison, Stave has explored the feminist, religious and spiritual implications of Morrison’s work.
“People were drawn to her work for its honesty, but also its lyricism,” Stave said. “Her language is just beyond compare—the only writer I think of who might be a peer in that area is Faulkner and some critics have explored the connection between those authors in their writing. She doesn’t pull any punches. Her works are brutal, but they reflect the world we know. Her characters live—they are never cardboard cut-outs representing ideological positions. She veers on the margins of social realism and magic realism, and she makes us see with incredible clarity what is in front of our faces.”
Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC) partnered with the Natchitoches Parish School Board this summer to host an Emergency Medical Responder Course. Students from Natchitoches Central High School, Lake View High School and Natchitoches Parish Technical Community College took part in classes from June 15 to July 15 to earn the EMR credential.
“We look forward to our summer courses each year. What a great opportunity for high school students to earn valuable credentials and be exposed to various career paths,” said Laurie Morrow, Natchitoches Campus Dean. “Students have the opportunity to meet with local business and industry leaders as well as tour their facilities. We enjoy a strong partnership with Natchitoches Parish schools and look forward to enhancing our high school programs each summer.”
Students were required to complete at least 60 hours of in-class instruction, which included hands-on skills and activities to prepare them to become first responders. During the program students became CPR certified, learned how to use tourniquets, were taught the signs and symptoms of many illnesses and learned how to treat patients suffering from injuries.
The course was taught at Natchitoches Central High School by Wendi Worsham, a paramedic and NCHS teacher. Partnering with her were Terry Jones, RN, and the Natchitoches City Fire Department. Guest instructors also participated in the program, covering topics such as pediatric and infant care, poison control and extrication from vehicles.
“We are so proud of our students who have decided to not only better themselves but also improve the community by becoming EMR certified,” said Grant Eloi, Natchitoches Parish School Board superintendent. “This is another example of the many ways NPSB is preparing our students for their futures.”
Morrow noted students who successfully complete the Emergency Medical Responders program are valuable assets to their community.
“After leaving the course, they are well versed in recognizing situations and being able to assist immediately while awaiting higher level of care,” Morrow said. “Our community grows safer due to courses such as this as students leave the program and are eager to help those who may find themselves in dire situation. This course also places students in the position to be able to achieve employment in the EMS field.”
CLTCC Vice Chancellor of Workforce agreed adding, “The JumpStart Summers partnership with Natchitoches Parish School Board bolsters high school students’ awareness of manufacturing and healthcare sector careers while affording them the opportunity to earn credentials and often college credit hours in a short-term training format. CLTCC appreciates NPSB’s commitment to its students and their futures, and we look forward to growing this partnership every year.”