District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington announced today that a grand jury considered evidence and allegations regarding a May 2022 homicide in Campti.

As a result, the grand jury formally indicted Darrion Simmons, 20, of Campti, with 2nd degree murder in the shooting death of Darnell Browder.

Additionally, Simmons is charged with theft over $5,000 relating to two stolen all-terrain vehicles that were found nearby the scene of the homicide.

Simmons will be arraigned at a later date.

It’s hard, but it’s fair: Demons remember coach Wayne Yates

Former Northwestern State men’s basketball coach Wayne Yates passed away earlier this month at age 84.

Yates’ family will hold a private memorial for the internment of his ashes after Yates succumbed to a lengthy battle with cancer.

An All-American at Memphis and a 1961 first-round NBA Draft selection of the Los Angeles Lakers, Yates inherited a five-win NSU team and turned it into a 19-win squad two years later. He coached a pair of NBA Draft picks with the Demons – Wayne Waggoner (Dallas, 6th round, 1982) and Johnny Martin (Dallas, 4th round, 1983).

Waggoner is an N-Club Hall of Famer who credited Yates with opening the door for Waggoner’s NBA career as well as bringing Waggoner back to Northwestern State as an assistant coach after his playing career ended.

“After the season, there was a tournament called the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Virginia,” Waggoner said. “He said, ‘Wayne, you’re good enough to play professionally at the next level – whether that’s in the NBA or overseas.’ He made a phone call and told me, ‘You’ll get an invitation to the Portsmouth Invitational.’ I went and led my team in scoring for two games and got on the map really quickly.

“He was responsible for that. After I got cut, he called me the next day to offer me the assistant job at Northwestern State. I wish he could have known and been more certain about how I felt about what he did for me.”

Following his five-season Demon career, which was highlighted by a 19-9 mark in Waggoner’s senior season of 1981-82, Yates remained in the area, coaching football and basketball at Montgomery High School and basketball at Northwood High School in Lena.

While with the Gators, his connection with Northwestern State grew deeper after Clifton Lee signed with the Demons and became an N-Club Hall of Fame performer, including playing a leading role in the Demons’ 2006 NCAA Tournament upset of third-seeded Iowa.

Lee played three seasons for Yates, earning All-CENLA honors as a senior. He credited the 6-foot-9 Yates with “lighting a competitive fire” inside him and his prep teammates.

“Coach Yates was something,” said Lee, the 2006 Southland Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player. “We had athletic PE in seventh period, and he’d bring his shorts and shoes and play with us. He didn’t hold any punches back either. He’d catch you with a nice elbow to the chest. He made you play hard.

“He was a coach who did everything. He dusted the floors. He had his CDL. He’d drive the buses to games. He did everything.”

That included instilling off-the-court values that dovetailed with those he taught on the court.

According to Waggoner, one of Yates’ mantras at Northwestern State was, “It’s hard, but it’s fair.” Moving from college hoops to the prep game did not change Yates’ outlook.

“He always preached that,” Lee said. “He always said playing basketball was a privilege. If we didn’t take care of our business in the classroom, there was no place for us on the floor. He also told us, ‘If you want it, go out and take it.’ He didn’t want us to leave it up to the refs or to anyone else in our life.”

Graphic by Jason Pugh/NSU Sports Information

Goldonna News: August 31, 2022

The Goldonna community is known as one that is close-knit and very compassionate with its neighbors. When a neighbor recently needed assistance, Goldonna residents answered the call for help.

Mrs. Gail Roy was recently diagnosed with Cancer and needed help with expenses that were becoming too much to bear. The area churches rallied and collected donations and she wanted to wholeheartedly thank everyone for their support, and thank all of the local churches and the surrounding community for their love offerings. This fundraiser is still not over if you still wish to donate to Mrs. Gail Roy and her husband. Gail has been battling cancer and other health issues, Any donations would be greatly appreciated as they will help with fuel expenses and any other expenses that may occur. If anyone is still wishing to donate you can contact her at 318-875-2651 and their mailing address is 116 Sonny black RD Creston LA 71070.

On September 4, 2022, Goldonna Baptist Church will officially welcome Pastor Ben Dupree, his wife Kristin, and sons, Reagan and Michael as full-time ministers. Service will begin at 11:00.

The Goldonna Assembly of God Church will hold a revival starting September 2nd through September 8th.

Sept 2nd, 3rd & 4th- Gerald Crabb
Sept 5th – Dr. Al Harris and Praise Team
Sept 6th – Kerry McNaughton & AOG Praise Team
Sept 7th – Todd Gregory & The McClanahans
Sept 8th – Tim Higdon & Praise Team

As you can see there is always something wonderful going on in the hills of Goldonna. Christmas in the Park is gearing up and still need volunteers for this jolly ole festival. Please contact Mayor Smith if you would like to be on the committee.

If you have news to share please email Reba Phelps at jreba.phelps@gmail.com

Cash in for $250 by picking weekly college football winners


College football officially kicks off next Saturday, Sept. 3, in the first week of an exciting regular season.

It’s going to be more exciting, week after week since you can win $250 by picking the winning teams.

Fans have until this Thursday (tomorrow) afternoon at 4 to enter the Week One  Natchitoches Parish Journal College Football Pick ‘Em Contest. Anyone has the chance to win a $250 prize as the week’s top predictor of 10 college games, featuring NSU, LSU, Grambling, and other teams of local interest.

The contests will be conducted weekly during the football season. There is no entry charge, just like there is no cost to subscribe to the Natchitoches Parish Journal.

Participation is very simple. Just click on this link:

The Pick ‘Em portal opens to a menu of game-by-game matchups, with an easy click to pick winning teams for each contest. Two games will be used as tiebreakers, with participants predicting the total points scored in those games.

It takes 20-30 seconds to sign up and not much longer than that to make your picks.

Entries are open now for the first week’s contest picking the winners from Sept. 3.

Each week, the entries will remain open this week until 4 p.m. Thursday (tomorrow).

One person will win each week’s $250 prize, to be announced in the Journal early the following week as the subsequent Pick ‘Em Contest launches. All contest decisions by NPJ management are final.

Every participant will receive a FREE subscription to the Journal if you’re not already signed up for the easily-navigated, convenient 6:55 a.m. daily e-mail.

A panel of Journal writers and local celebrities will also pick the games each week, but won’t be eligible to win the cash prizes. Their individual picks will NOT be publicized, just the week’s final win-loss results and the season’s record for each picker.

It will be fun for participants to compare their weekly records to the panel of experts and celebrities to be announced next week.

Enjoy it all, for FREE, and enter each week’s contest. You could collect $250, maybe more than once!

Notes: Just ONE $250.00 winner per week. Only your FIRST submission will count, any others you submit will be excluded.

When you go up, your pets won’t wind up down

The following is a Public Service Announcement from The Division of the Least of These Things to Worry About, Ever, My Brethren.  

A guy created a website and, for a while there, had people believing he’d recruited well-meaning and caring atheists who’d care for the pets of Christians after their rapture.  

In other words, “Send money. Rest easy.” 

I’ll hang on a second while you read that again because me my own self had to ponder it too, the first time I heard it; I had never had the thought either. Ever. And it’s not because I don’t love my pets. I do. But … while I’ve heard bizarre things, this might be at the top of the heap. 

Bizarro Mountain. 

Bizarro Mountain Range, even. 

NPR reported that a guy charged “hundreds of people more than $100 apiece, promising the business would care for their pets after the owners were carried up to Heaven. The self-described animal-loving atheist called his site Eternal Earth-Bound Pets. The New Hampshire Insurance Department thought some monkey business might be going on and decided to investigate”. 

Props to the New Hampshire Insurance Department, which seldom gets props. 

Life’s not fair. 

Anyway, the New Hampshire Insurance Department guy in charge of Pre-Rapture Pets, Etc. guy said it was a hoax. Which it was, same as the After the Rapture Pet Care site inventor admitted. 

I think they said this pre-rapture. Lord, I hope so. 

But I’ll give both guys points for creativity. 

For my pet’s future, I’d bet it on the After the Rapture Pet Care guy. He charged only a $10 registration fee, because those Left Behind were going to “care for the pets they rescue as their own, including being financially responsible for them,” the site claimed. 

Indulge me for a sec, and if you’ve read this far, you already have. The After the Rapture Pet Care guy, or (ATRPCG), also typed this on his site, under the ingenious “Frequently Asked Questions” part, (which I thought was a nice touch): 

Who are these Volunteer Pet Caretakers and how do I know they’ll take good care of my pets? 

Most Volunteer Pet Caretakers fit this description: 

  • They are atheists or another non-Christian religion; 
  • They love animals enough to register with us even though they do not believe there will be a Rapture (or are agnostic about it); 
  • (My words, because this bullet point was the part about how they’d treat your pets as their own — their still-alive-but-non-raptured own.)  

Another of the FAQ’s questions is, “Isn’t the world going to be totally collapsed after the Rapture?” It’s a long answer on the website, but the short answer from this bureau is, “Yes. That’s an affirmation. Bet your hat. If you have gift cards, use them ASAP. If you have one from After the Rapture Pet Care, well … ” 

Lord have mercy …  

We conclude with a sobering thought, I think from Mark Twain, and it’s one of my favorite thoughts, at least one of my favorite sobering ones, and should ease the mind of all us pet lovers who are worried about how things might end up for animals we loved, as if God who created them isn’t aware: 

“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” 


Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu 

Student Athlete raises funds through Kick-It Campaign for Childhood Cancer Research

In 2000, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation started in the front yard of four-year-old Alexandra “Alex” Scott’s home in Philadelphia. Alex was fighting cancer and wanted to raise money to find cures for all children who were suffering from it. Alex set up a lemonade stand in her front yard and soon after, people from across the nation set up their own lemonade stands to support her efforts to find cures for pediatric cancer. When she passed away at the age of eight, she had raised over one million dollars. Since then, the foundation bearing her name has evolved into a national fundraising movement and is one of the leading funders of pediatric cancer research in the United States and Canada.

Kick-It is a program of the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and a national volunteer-driven effort focused solely on raising money for childhood cancer research. In 2009, Kick-It was founded in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, by ten-year-old Quinn Clarke during his second battle with cancer. Quinn asked his parents if he could have a kickball game to raise money for cancer research and was shocked when more than 500 people supported his game. In 2012, Ohio All-State football player, Matt Colella, who had battled cancer as a middle school student, started the Kick-It Champions program by asking others to pledge a dollar amount for each point he made as his high school’s football team’s kicker or by making a one-time donation towards his fundraising goal.

Payne Williams is a junior kicker for the St. Mary’s Catholic School football team. In July, while attending the Kohl’s Kicking Scholarship Camp in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, he learned about and registered with Kick-It Champions to help raise funds to aid in cancer research. Supporters can help Payne raise funds by donating an amount for each time he scores a point, either through a successful field goal or extra point, or by making a one-time donation.

All funds raised through the Kick-It Champions program go directly to Alex’s Lemonade Stand for Childhood Cancer Research, a registered 501(c)3 charity, which has funded projects at nearly 150 leadings hospitals and institutions across the United States and Canada. Since 2000, more than 250 million dollars has been raised to fund over 1,000 research projects.

In order to donate, please go to Alex’s Lemonade Stand at www.alexslemonade.org/mypage/2992952. Thank you for supporting pediatric cancer research.

Photos by Amanda Scarborough, Michelle Longlois and Mandy Parker

NSU Professor Emeritus of English Dr. Julie Kane to be honored at Shreveport show

Northwestern State Professor Emeritus of English Dr. Julie Kane will be honored at a solo show recognizing her for being the winner of the 2021 Shreveport Regional Arts Council’s Critic’s Choice: Literary Award on Friday, Sept. 16 from 5 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at ArtSpace located at 708 Texas Street in Shreveport.

The show is free and open to the public and it will also include visual art exhibits by Eric Francis and Debra Roberson and a literary exhibit by poet Genaro Ky-Ly Smith, the 2022 Critic’s Choice: Literary Award winner.

Kane’s solo show will be a poetry video titled “I Will Not Write a Pandemic Poem.” The video is collaboration between Kane, who wrote and read the poems used for the video, filmmaker Melody Gilbert, an associate professor of New Media, Journalism, and Communication Arts at NSU, who produced the video, Gilbert’s film student Anna Duplantis, who served as art director, and professional film editor Igor Myakotin who has collaborated with Gilbert in the past. Kane said the film is just under 20 minutes.

The annual art series, presented by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council, invites regional artists to submit one piece of new, original work for review by professional national critics. There were 100 submissions in the categories of literary, performing and visual arts.

Each winner was awarded $2,000 to be used toward developing a solo show, which is hosted by SRAC/Artspace the next year. The judge in the literary arts competition was poet Greg Brownderville, an associate professor of English at SMU and editor-in-chief of the Southwest Review.

Obit: Irene McGee

A graveside service will be held for Mrs. Irene Bryant McGee at Goldonna Cemetery, 1215 N Goodwill St., Goldonna, LA 71031 on Friday September 2, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. Her grandson, Lonnie Scarborough will conduct the service.

Mrs. McGee celebrated her 102nd birthday on June 17 and went to be with her Lord on August 28, 2022. She was the daughter of Curlie Franklin and Iva Priscilla Bryant. She was postmaster at Goldonna Post Office for 36 years, where she lovingly served her patrons. In addition, she served as bookkeeper for a family owned business. She enjoyed worshiping and fellowship at Goldonna Baptist Church where she was a faithful choir member and taught Jr. girls.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Gordon McGee, her parents, a sister, three brothers and her son-in-law, Gilbert Scarborough. She is survived by her son, Larry McGee and wife, Sharon and her daughter, Marilyn Scarborough. She had five grandchildren, Larenda McGee, Leigh Ann Linder, Nathan Scarborough (Karen), Gina Holstead (Lee) and Lonnie Scarborough (Ginger); ten great grandchildren, Logan Thomas, Jackson McGee, Brodie Linder, Shelbie Linder, Clancy Scarborough (Brittany), Clay Scarborough, Justin Holstead (Anna), Katie Holstead Schoening (Joel), Lucas Scarborough (Taylor) and Graham Scarborough; three great-great grandchildren, Sutton Scarborough, Charlie Schoening and Addie Holstead also numerous nieces and nephews.

She cared deeply for her family who loved her in return. A favorite scripture verse was “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10. A motto that she lived by to the fullest was “Live, Love and Laugh!” The family wants to thank the many friends who sent letters and cards and prayed for her. We appreciate her church family who were so attentive to her in the later years she was able to live in her home.

A special thanks to caregivers Rhonda, Crystal, Teresa, Peggy, Margaret, Sammie and Queen as well as the staff of Azalea Estates Assisted Living and the staff of The Guest House. She truly valued each of you.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to Goldonna Cemetery Fund addressed to Rod Bedgood, P.O. Box 263, Goldonna, LA 71031 or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 1501 Kings Hwy, Shreveport, LA 71104

Natchitoches Parish assists with search for Sabine River drowning victims

The Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office located the fourth victim of a tragic drowning on Sabine River, a young boy who was found on Aug. 29 around 8:30 am.

The response to this tragedy was enormous and Beauregard Parish Sheriff Herford wants to specifically thank the following people and agencies that provided so much assistance to the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office and the families of the victims of this terrible event.

Beauregard Parish Fire District 1
Beauregard Parish Fire District 4
Sheriff Steve McCain and the Grant Parish Sheriff’s Office
Alexandria Fire Department (Dive and Rescue)
Sheriff Mark Woods and the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office (Marine Division)
Plainview Fire and Rescue
Sheriff Doug Hebert and the Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office
Allen Parish Fire District 6
Sheriff Tony Mancuso and the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office (Marine Division)
Sheriff Jayson Richardson and the Desoto Parish Sheriff’s Office (Marine Division and Air1)
Sheriff Stuart Wright and the Natchitoches Sheriff’s Office
Natchitoches Parish Fire and Rescue
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Louisiana State Police
Pineville Fire and Rescue
Sheriff Mark Garber and the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office (Search and Rescue)
Lafayette Fire Department
Sheriff Ron Johnson and the Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office (Search and Rescue)
Sheriff Scott Franklin and the Lasalle Parish Sheriff’s Office
Louisiana Sheriff’s Association Coordinator Chuck Hurst
Merryville Police Department
Sabine River Authority
Beauregard Parish Police Jury
Acadian Ambulance
Steamboat Bill’s Waffle Shop

These groups really stepped forward to aid us and we are so grateful to them for all of their assistance. We offer continued prayers for the families of all the victims.

Rotary Club learns about LSU ‘Tiger Talk’

Rotarian with the Program Tommy Caldwell introduced Bart Schmolke from KZMZ 96.9 Alexandria who discussed LSU “Tiger Talk” at the August 39 luncheon.
Pictured from left President Aaron Johnson, Schmolke, and Caldwell (Photo by Dr. Ron McBride).


BOM is a sponsor of the Northwestern State University School of Creative and Performing Arts “Hotter ‘N Hell” National Collegiate Art Exhibition which features all art forms that use fire and heat as a part of the creative process. Pictured left to right BOM’s Blaise LaCour and Dustin Dauzat, NSU D.M.A. Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Greg Handel, and BOM’s Lyn Christophe.

Notice of Death – August 30, 2022

Irene Bryant McGee
Service: Friday, September 2 at 11 am at Goldonna Cemetery

Amy Nichole Turner
February 9,1987-August 26, 2022
Service: Saturday, September 3 at 2 pm at the Winnfield Funeral Home Chapel
Viewing: 1-2pm (prior to service)

Terry A Janes
November 8, 1927 – August 25, 2022
Service: Wednesday August 31 at 10 am in the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

Charles Henry Christopher
September 8, 1939 – August 26, 2022
Service: Saturday, September 17 at 11 am at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Isle Brevelle

Jessica Midkiff Avelis Fontenot
July 3, 1974 – August 16, 2022
Service: Sunday, September 4 at 3 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, located at 533 2nd Street in Natchitoches

Cynthia Lynn Bedgood
June 20, 1955 – August 27, 2022
Service: Thursday, September 1 at 1 pm at Southern Funeral Home

Jewell William Rushton
October 21, 1940 – August 27, 2022
Service: Wednesday, August 31 at 10 am at Hebron Baptist Church in Dry Prong

Larry “Pat” Patrick Small
May 2, 1955 – August 26, 2022
Service: Wednesday, August 31 at 2 pm at Warren Meadows Funeral Home Chapel

Natchitoches Parish Journal publishes paid obituaries – unlimited words and a photo, as well as unlimited access – $80. Contact your funeral provider or npjnatla@gmail.com . Must be paid in advance of publication. (Notice of Death shown above are FREE of charge.  You may email them to npjnatla@gmail.com)

Marthaville Announces Hawks of the Week

Marthaville Hawks of the Week for August 29 are:

Pre k- Aubrey Collinsworth
Kindergarten- McKenzie Caldwell
1st Grade- Stefan Chelette
2nd Grade- Yuliana Alvizo
3rd Grade- Katherine Rains and Ava Strait
4th Grade- Zoey Madison and Landry Strahan
5th grade- Riley Shoemaker and Madeline Byles
6th grade-Morgan Berry and Kyleigh Greer
7th grade- Isabela Soto and La’Kiyah Thompson, and Ava Greer
8th grade- Cassie Davis


District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington announced the court sentencing of a felon in possession of a firearm on Aug. 29.

Freeman Eric Tucker, 63 of Coushatta, was convicted in April by a jury serving in the 10th
Judicial District Court with Judge Lala Sylvester presiding.

The court sentenced Tucker to 20 years of incarceration at hard labor and a $5000 fine.

The conviction and sentence are the result of a 2019 incident in which Natchitoches City
Police officers attempted to make contact with Tucker to investigate an incident that
occurred in the nearby area. Tucker was found when fleeing from the police, running
through several backyards of city residents. He was quickly apprehended and taken
into custody. When police officers searched Tucker, they discovered he was in
possession of a handgun.

Tucker, who is on parole from previous felony convictions of armed robbery in Caddo
Parish is prohibited from possessing a firearm.

“I commend our law enforcement partners who work diligently to apprehend felons
who illegally possess firearms. We will continue our mission of enforcing the law fairly
to reduce crime and to pursue justice for crime victims in Natchitoches Parish,” said

District Attorney Harrington.
Assistant District Attorney J. Chris Guillet prosecuted the case.

Krewe of Dionysos 2023 Royalty: A Silver Jubilee, 25 years of Memories

Soni Sers & Randy Williams

Krewe of Dionysos 2023 Royalty: A Silver Jubilee, 25 years of Memories
Natchitoches Krewe of Dionysos held its Coronation to announce the 2023 Royal Court on August 27, 2022. The event was held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Natchitoches with live music provided by The RiverKatz from Lake Charles. The theme for the upcoming season is, “A Silver Jubilee, 25 years of Memories.” Congratulations to the Krewe of Dionysos 2023 Royalty!

Introducing the 2023 Royal Court:

Jerry G. McElwee, Captain XXV

Randy Williams, King XXV

Soni Sers, Queen XXV

Phil & Karla Rider, Duke & Duchess of Dance XXV

Leonard & Courtney Sarpy, Duke & Duchess of Desire XXV

Dr. Marc Stokes & Mindy Stokes, Duke & Duchess of Destiny XXV

John & Dr. Lauren Carriere, Duke & Duchess of Decadence XXV

Students at Weaver Elementary School Participate in Reading Rally

Super Bowl Champ Malcolm Mitchell leads students to “Read with Malcolm”

Students at Weaver Elementary School participated in a “Read with Malcolm Reading Rally” on Aug. 29 as part of a three-day Geaux READ Tour presented by Share the Magic Foundation and The Rapides Foundation. They were among the almost 3,500 students who participated in Reading Rallies presented in nine schools across Central Louisiana Aug. 29-31.

The Reading Rally was led by Malcolm Mitchell, an author, Super Bowl Champion and Founder/CEO of Share the Magic Foundation. Mitchell considers a love of reading to be his greatest achievement and founded Share the Magic with a sole purpose: to transform children’s lives through literacy.

At the Reading Rally each student received a copy of Mitchell’s book, “The Magician’s Hat,” and participated in a high-energy, pep rally-style assembly that included a read-along and magic show.

“Thank you to The Rapides Foundation for making it possible for me and my Foundation to share the magic of reading with so many children on the Geaux READ Tour,” Mitchell said. “This is a very special event and a very important message: that in order to succeed you have to read. I was very excited to see the kids at each stop on the tour and I look forward to seeing everyone in Central Louisiana again soon.”

The Geaux READ Tour is in connection with The Rapides Foundation’s ninth annual Symposium held on September 1. The Foundation presents the Symposium each year as a way to gather around a topic of importance and to recognize the creation of The Rapides Foundation on September 1, 1994. The focus of the 2022 Symposium was Early Childhood Literacy and featured Mitchell’s presentation, Read to a Better Future, in which he described the transformational power of reading through his personal story and literacy-based research. The Geaux READ Tour was an additional part of the 2022 Symposium and provided an opportunity to reinforce the importance of encouraging reading at a young age so that children are better prepared to achieve school success.

“The Symposium gives The Rapides Foundation the opportunity each year to shine a spotlight on an important topic that impacts the communities we serve,” said Joe Rosier, President and CEO of The Rapides Foundation. “The importance of early childhood literacy has been raised as a critical issue for many years at the local, state and national levels. Research tells us that children who are not reading at grade level by third grade are among the most vulnerable to drop out of school later, so it’s important to have strategies in place to improve those outcomes.”

The Rapides Foundation allocates 40% of its spending to its Education Initiative to increase the level of educational attainment and achievement as the primary path to improved economic, social and health status. The work is implemented in the areas of School Readiness, Effective Schools, and Career and Postsecondary Readiness. The mission of The Rapides Foundation is to improve the health status of Central Louisiana and large-scale improvement in educational attainment across the region is necessary for improved health status.

Since founding Share the Magic Foundation, Mitchell and his organization have reached more than 400,000 students across the country and internationally through Read with Malcolm Literacy Initiatives. Mitchell’s mission is to inspire young people to read by bringing book ownership to students in Title I schools and under-resourced communities. Whether a student is a striving reader or learns differently, Read with Malcolm literacy programs – both in school and virtually – provide inspiration and motivation, and carry the message that reading is the key to achieving one’s goals.

Northwestern State announces 12-member 2022 N-Club Hall of Fame class

A national champion, a pair of NFL veterans and one of the Demons of Destiny highlight the Northwestern State N-Club Hall of Fame Class of 2022.

The 12-member group will be inducted and honored at 9 a.m. on Oct. 22 ahead of Northwestern State’s Homecoming game against Southeast Missouri. Kickoff for the game is set for 1 p.m.

Trecey Rew-Hoover, the 2011 NCAA Outdoor discus champion, leads the 10-member class of competitive inductees while, for the first time, the N-Club Pioneer Award will be given to a pair of former Northwestern State competitors.

Joining Rew-Hoover in the induction class are 2002 Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year Roy Locks, seven-year NFL veteran and 2002 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships qualifier Craig Nall, All-American cornerback David Pittman, 2006 Southland Conference Basketball Tournament MVP Clifton Lee, three-time All-Southland Conference member and the conference’s former career 3-point record holder Kia Converse, softball standouts Erin Mancuso and Amanda Ortego, who combined for seven All-Southland Conference honors, five-time Southland Conference hurdles champion and NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship qualifier Brittany Littlejohn and 2002 Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year O.J. King.

Trailblazers Louise “Do” Bonin and Melvin Howard will be honored with the N-Club Pioneer Award, which was first awarded to innovative strength and conditioning coach Al Miller in 2021.

The 12-person class was selected by a combination of voting by members of the N-Club, the association of former Northwestern State athletic letterwinners, and a committee comprising N-Club members and NSU administrators.

Enshrinement in the N-Club Hall of Fame is among the highest honors NSU bestows on its former competitors and staff. Those receiving N-Club Hall of Fame recognition are showcased in a digital N-Club display in Prather Coliseum.

Rew-Hoover was a three-time All-American as well as an Academic All-American who defeated competitors from Power Five schools like Arizona State and Tennessee with a throw of 192-4 to capture the 2011 national championship in the discus. She added a second-team All-American honor that same year after finishing 15th nationally in the shot put. Her performance in the ring and in the classroom earned her the 2011 NCAA Division I Field Events Women’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Rew-Hoover was a two-time NCAA Outdoor Championships qualifier who earned three All-American honors and was an eight-time Southland Conference individual event champion. Her national discus title was the first national title won by a Lady Demon track and field competitor.

Nall spent one season at Northwestern State but left his impact on two programs. An LSU transfer, Nall threw for 2,361 yards in 10 games, a mark that was second in school single-season history at the time and remains sixth in that category. He threw for 326 yards and led the Demons to a 27-24 win against bowl-bound TCU and helped push the Demons into the FCS Playoffs where it gave eventual national champion Montana its toughest postseason challenge. Nall spent the spring throwing the javelin for the NSU track team and qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a throw of 227-11. A member of the Top 100 Demon Players of All-Time, Nall spent seven years in the NFL, mostly as Brett Favre’s backup in Green Bay and finished his career with a 123.8 passer rating and five touchdowns.

Pittman was a 2005 All-American cornerback and a third-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens the following spring. A Gramercy native, Pittman spent one season with Baltimore and also saw time with New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Houston before playing for the Calgary Stampeders and the then-Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. Pittman was named an All-American after recording 36 tackles (1.5 for loss), nine pass breakups, an interception and a forced fumble in 2005 and was the lone FCS player to participate in the 2006 Senior Bowl. A two-time, first-team All-Southland selection, Pittman’s 11 interceptions remain tied for ninth in NSU career history. A two-sport standout, Pittman was part of the 4×400 relay team that reached the 2003 NCAA Outdoor Championships and won the 2003 SLC Outdoor title with Pittman scoring points in the 100 meters, the 4×100 relay and the 4×400 relay.

Locks earned 2002 Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year acclaim and All-American honors after recording 70 tackles (16.5 for loss) and 10 sacks for a defense that ranked in the top 10 nationally. A defensive end, Locks started all 47 games in his Demon career, finishing with 224 career tackles, including 37.5 for loss, and helping the Demons make consecutive FCS Playoff appearances in 2001 and 2002. A member of the Top 100 Demon Players of All-Time, Locks was a member of the 2001 and 2002 Southland Conference Indoor Track and Field championship teams as a shot putter.

A 6-foot-7 forward, Lee was a driving force behind the “Demons of Destiny,” who upset third-seeded Iowa in the 2006 NCAA Tournament on Jermaine Wallace’s buzzer-beating, 3-pointer. Lee was the 2006 Southland Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player and helped the Demons collect regular-season wins at Mississippi State and Oklahoma State and against Oregon State in a neutral-site matchup. A product of Northwood High School in Lena, Lee led the Demons in scoring (14.2 ppg) and rebounding (6.2) while shooting 51.6 percent from the floor. A National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District and All-Louisiana honoree, Lee finished his career as the school’s No. 11 all-time scorer with 1,391 points (now 15th) and seventh in career rebounds with 722 (now 9th). Lee was chosen to the “Fab 50” from the modern era on the Demons All-Century Team during the 2012-13 basketball centennial celebration.

Converse established the Southland Conference’s career 3-point record, knocking down 218 career 3s en route to three All-Southland Conference honors, including two first-team nods. A two-time All-Louisiana selection, Converse remains second on NSU’s career 3-point list and her 81 made 3s in the 1999-2000 season are still third in single-season history after standing as the school record for 16 years. A two-time All-Southland Conference Tournament selection, Converse scored 13 points in the Lady Demons’ visit to Arkansas in the WNIT her sophomore season. She finished her NSU career with averages of 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, helping the Lady Demons produce an 86-31 overall and 61-12 Southland Conference mark.

A power-hitting first baseman, Mancuso earned All-Southland Conference honors three times in her Lady Demon career, including a first-team honor in 2001, as well as first-team All-Louisiana honors in 2000 and 2001. As a sophomore, Mancuso authored the top home run season in NSU softball history, blasting 18 home runs, which ranked fourth nationally, as well as established single-season records for RBIs (49, now fourth), runs (44, now fourth) and total bases (132, now second). A career .308 hitter in a pitching-dominated era, Mancuso left NSU as the program record holder in career slugging percentage (.585), home runs (38) and RBIs (127) and was a three-time All-Southland Conference Tournament selection. With Mancuso in the lineup, the Lady Demons went 147-90 overall and 78-27 in Southland play, winning a pair of conference regular-season titles in 1999 and 2000.

Ortego was teammates with Mancuso during the 2000 SLC title season, earning one of her three third-team All-Southland honors. A four-time all-conference honoree, Ortego helped lead the Lady Demons to two NCAA Tournaments under different coaches. She set school career records for strikeouts (694) and innings pitched (687 2-3) that still stand nearly two decades after her playing career. Ortego remains second in school history in wins (59) and career shutouts (19) – trailing fellow N-Club Hall of Famers Kellie Shotwell and Nancy Percle in those categories. Ortego earned the 2002 Southland Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player honor, pitching the Lady Demons to the tournament title as part of a 54 1-3-inning scoreless streak that extended into the NCAA Tournament against LSU.

Like Ortego, Littlejohn established a long-standing school record during at NSU career that saw her win five of a possible six Southland Conference hurdles titles in her final three seasons. Littlejohn’s wind-aided 13.13 mark in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2003 NCAA Mideast Regional not only advanced her to a second straight NCAA Outdoor Championship, it set a school record. A two-time NCAA Outdoor qualifier, Littlejohn owned the 60-meter hurdles at the Southland Indoor Championships, winning three straight tiles from 2001-03 while adding 100-meter outdoor titles in 2002 and 2003.

A junior college transfer, King earned superlative honors from the Southland Conference in each of his two years in a Demon uniform – collecting Newcomer of the Year acclaim in 2001 and the Pitcher of the Year award in 2002. A right-hander from Oklahoma, King established the school single-game strikeout record, fanning 15 Lamar batters on March 15, 2002. A workhorse whose 106 innings pitched in 2002 remain seventh in school single-season history, King helped pitch the Demons to consecutive regular-season Southland titles and an overall 81-34 mark in his two-year career. Cincinnati drafted King in the eighth round of the 2002 MLB First-Year Player Draft after he was a first-team All-Southland Conference selection.

Both N-Club Pioneer Award recipients opened doors for generations of NSU student-athletes who followed.

Bonin was part of the group of 13 student-athletes who in 1975 received Louisiana’s first athletic scholarships for women. Following her time at Northwestern State, Bonin coached high school basketball at Dodson and Leesville before becoming a coach and Senior Woman Administrator at Nicholls.

Howard, a New Orleans native, was the first Black Demon football player, a split end who played the 1968 season at Northwestern State before returning to his hometown to take a job. Howard eventually joined the New Orleans Police Department, working undercover on three occasions before rising to the rank of captain, a position he now holds with the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Department.

Kia Converse (women’s basketball, 1997-2001) – Three-year All-Southland, twice first team (1999-2000, 2000-01) … set Southland career 3-point record (218, now sixth), going 218 of 608 (.358, third on SLC top 10) … her 218 treys is now second at NSU … set single-season NSU and SLC marks, since topped, with 81 3s as a junior (now third in school history) … twice All-Louisiana, first team as a senior, second as a junior, also honorable mention as a sophomore when the Lady Demons won the Southland regular-season crown and played in the WNIT at Arkansas (she scored 13) … … All-SLC Tournament 2000, 2001 … career averages of 12.7 points, 6.3 rebounds … 10th on NSU career scoring list (1,464 points, 115 games) … career highs of 31 points vs. James Madison, 20 rebounds vs. ULM, both as a junior … had a 17-rebound game vs. Texas A&M as a senior … NSU went 86-31 overall/61-12 SLC in her four seasons … briefly played volleyball as an upperclassman … nicknamed “Killer,” she earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree at NSU … served as an assistant coach under James Smith, then former teammate Jennifer Graf.

O.J. King (baseball, 2001-02) – 2002 Southland Pitcher of the Year, 2001 SLC Newcomer of the Year who was twice All-Southland (first team in 2002, second in 2001) … 8-4 with a 2.63 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 106 innings pitched as a senior, after 8-2 with a 4.03 ERA and 62 Ks in 80.1 IP in 2001 … 4 career shutouts is fourth in school history … 2002 strikeout total is seventh all-time … holds single-game punch out record with 15 vs. Lamar (3/23/02) … 106 IP in 2002 is seventh career … an eighth-round MLB Draft pick (Cincinnati, 2002) … helped Demons win back-to-back Southland championships … NSU went 38-17/19-8 in 2001, 43-17, 14-10 in 2002, for an overall 81-34 mark and a 33-18 league slate in his two seasons.

Clifton Lee (men’s basketball, 2002-06) – Only first-team All-Southland pick on the Demons’ 2005-06 Southland regular-season and tournament champion “Demons of Destiny” who beat Iowa in the NCAA Tournament after regular season wins at Mississippi State, Oklahoma State and over Oregon State … 2006 Southland Tournament MVP, after 2005 SLC All-Tournament honor … runner-up for 2005-06 Southland Player of the Year … NABC All-District … All-Louisiana … leading scorer (14.2) and rebounder (6.2) who shot 51.6 percent overall, 39.3 (35-89) on 3s, had 60 assists, 18 blocks and 25 steals as a 6-7 senior forward … led winning rally vs. Iowa … finished career 11th on NSU career scoring list (1,391, now 15th), seventh in rebounding (722, now ninth) .. career 11.9 scoring average, 6.2 rebounds … led (shared once) Demons in rebounding all four seasons … second-leading scorer (at 9.5 ppg) as a junior on Demons’ first Southland regular-season championship team, which was upset in tourney final … those two conference championship teams, NSU’s only regular-season title holders in its Division I history, went 12 deep with remarkable balance, downgrading individual stat totals … made “Fab 50” from Modern Era on All-Century Team chosen in 2012-13 basketball centennial celebration.

Brittany Littlejohn (track and field, 2000-03) – Set longstanding school record with wind-aided 13.13 time in 100 meter hurdles at the NCAA Mideast Regional in 2003, advancing to the NCAA Outdoors for the second straight season … owned the Southland hurdles competition in her final three years, capturing five of a possible six titles … twice won the 100 meter hurdles Southland Conference championship (2002, 13.42; 2003, 13.47) and claimed three straight 60m hurdles gold medals at the Southland Indoors (2001, 8.66; 2002, 8.45; 2003, 8.53) … NCAA Outdoor Championships 100m hurdles qualifier in 2002 with a 13.42 time, finishing 14th at the NCAA meet … honors graduate.

Roy Locks (football, 1999-2002; track and field, 2000-2003) – Four-year starter (all 47 career games) and a 2002 All-American defensive end, he was the 2002 Southland Defensive Player of the Year … he also made All-Southland as a linebacker as a junior … as a senior, had 16.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks among his 70 tackles for a top-10-ranked defense in Scott Stoker’s first season as head coach … 224 career tackles, 37.5 for loss, and was a key on playoff teams of 2001, 2002 … played end as a freshman and senior … member of 2001 indoor, 2002 outdoor Southland Conference champion track teams as a shot putter … immediately became an assistant coach on Stoker’s staff in 2003 … chosen for football’s Top 100 Demon Players of All-Time roster.

Erin Mancuso (softball, 1999-2002) – Slugging first baseman who was a three-time All-Southland pick (first team in 2001, second in 2000, third in 2002) and a two-time first-team All-Louisiana selection (’00, ’01) … set single-season school records for home runs (18, fourth nationally, still tops at NSU), RBI (49, now fourth), runs (44, now fourth), total bases (132, now second), all as a sophomore in 2000 … set Southland Tournament records for hits (10), doubles (3), total bases (19), runs scored (7) and hit .526 en route to 2000 SLC Tournament MVP honor as NSU made the first of two NCAA Tournament appearances (2000, 2002) in her career … made All-Southland Tournament as a freshman, sophomore and junior … set school career records for slugging percentage (.585, now fourth), home runs (38, now fourth), RBI (127, now third) … also third all-time in doubles (44), fifth in walks (76) … career batting average of .308 … started all but 12 of 219 career games as NSU went 147-90, 78-27 in her career, winning two Southland regular-season crowns (1999, 2000) and finishing second in 2002.

Craig Nall (football, 2001; track and field, 2001-02) – LSU transfer’s one season elevated NSU football to an FCS playoff team (8-4) that gave eventual national champion Montana fits in its toughest game in postseason … despite missing 2 of 12 games due to injury, recorded four of top 10 single-game passing totals by a Demon (at the time), topped by 346 in a season-opening win at Southern … engineered monumental 27-24 OT win at TCU with 326-yard night vs. a bowl-bound Frogs team coached by Gary Patterson … his 2,361 passing yards in 2001 was second in school history, now sixth …. 166 completions was a record, now seventh … 12 TD passes were second, now ninth … 136.81 passer rating was fifth, now 10th … second-team All-Southland pick behind Josh McCown of regular-season champ Sam Houston … NCAA Outdoor Championships qualifier in 2001 in the javelin (227-11) and only all-time NSU great Latrell Frederick topped him at Southland meets in 2001, 2002 … fifth-round 2002 NFL Draft pick (164th overall) … seven NFL seasons, most as Brett Favre’s backup in Green Bay … had five TD passes, 123.8 QB rating as an NFL player … was All-NFL Europe in 2003 with Scottish Claymores in spring league, while continuing with the Packers … chosen for Top 100 Demon Players of All-Time.

Amanda Ortego (softball, 2000-03) – Four-time All-Southland Conference pitcher (second team in 2002, third team in other three seasons) who helped lead two teams (with different coaches) into the NCAA Tournament … set career school records for strikeouts (694, 126 more than anyone else) and innings pitched (687.2, +118.2 over second) that still stand 17 years later, and remains second (by 3 wins) behind N-Club HOF member Kellie Shotwell in career wins (59) … also second in career shutouts (19), topped only by N-Club Hofer Nancy Percle … shares single-season strikeout record (257, 2002) and ranked in single-season top five in IP, Ks, shutouts and wins (still top five in all but wins) at end of her career … 2002 Southland Tournament MVP … ranked 27th in NCAA in strikeouts per seven IP (8.2) as a junior … had an incredible streak of 54.1 consecutive scoreless innings in 11 games ending 2002 regular season and through four innings vs. LSU in a 3-2 NCAA Tournament loss.

David Pittman (football, 2002-2005, track and field 2003-05) — A 2005 All-American who became a third-round NFL Draft selection and spent one season with Baltimore and later with the New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans … he intercepted two passes and broke up three others in seven games as a rookie with the Ravens and played for the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders … named an All-American in 2005 after recording 36 tackles, 9 pass breakups, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble … snared 11 career interceptions, which is tied for ninth in school history, and returned three of them for touchdowns … was the lone FCS player to participate in the 2006 Senior Bowl … two-time first-team All-Southland Conference selection (2004, ‘05) and a second-team pick in 2003 finished his career with 153 tackles and 26 pass breakups in addition to his 11 interceptions … standout for 2004 Southland Conference champions and FCS playoff entry … part of the 4×400 relay team that reached the 2003 NCAA Outdoor Championships … contributed to the Demons’ 2003 Southland Conference Outdoor championship, scoring in three events (100 meters, 4×100 relay, 4×400 relay) … chosen for Top 100 Demon Players of All-Time.


Trecey Rew-Hoover (track and field 2008-11) — Trecey Rew-Hoover won the 2011 NCAA discus championship for the Lady Demons, was a three-time All-American, and was an Academic All-American … won the national championship with a school record 192-4 throw to top competitors from power schools like Arizona State and Tennessee. She also earned second-team All-America honors in the shot put by finishing 15th at the 2011 NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa … named the 2011 NCAA Division I Field Events Women’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association … graduating in May 2010 with a 3.86 grade point average in broadcast journalism, Rew-Hoover posted a perfect 4.0 in her first year pursuing a master’s degree in sport administration … voted to the Academic All-America Track and Cross Country Team as a second-team selection. Rew-Hoover earned the 13th Academic All-America Award by an NSU student-athlete since 1986. The Garland, Texas native became the first Lady Demon to capture a national title. She gave the Northwestern track and field program its third NCAA crown and first since 1990 … Rew-Hoover swept the 2011 Southland Conference Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Student-Athlete of the Year honors. She finished her career with eight individual Southland titles, winning the conference Field Event Athlete of the Year award in the final three SLC championships she entered … a three-time All-America recipient in the sport by virtue of her finishes in the shot put and discus at her last two NCAA Outdoor Championships. She was ninth in the 2010 NCAA meet in the shot put … the school and Southland Conference record holder in both events, she had collegiate bests of 192-4 in the discus and 57-0 ¼ in the shot. Competing against some of the world’s top competitors at the 2011 USA Track and Field Championships, Rew-Hoover finished seventh in the discus and 15th in the shot put.

N-Club Pioneer Award recipients

Louise “Do” Bonin – One of the original 13 recipients of state’s first athletic scholarships for women at NSU in 1975 … became a highly successful high school basketball coach at Dodson and Leesville, then coached at Nicholls and became senior woman administrator there.

Melvin Howard – The first African-American Demon football player in 1968, his only season with the program … beloved by teammates, he regretfully returned home to New Orleans to get a job … rose to the ranks of Captain in New Orleans city police department and is now in that position in Orleans Sheriff’s office.

Photo Graphic: Jason Pugh/NSU Sports Information

Northwestern State drops first game of season in hard-fought contest at SMU

A 12th minute goal from No. 15 SMU’s Sammy Nieves held up, as the Northwestern State women’s soccer team dropped its first game of the season 1-0 on Sunday evening at the Washburne Soccer and Track Stadium.

Nieves received a cross into the box, which overshot multiple players jockeying for position and went to Nieves, who turned and blasted a goal top right shelf past NSU goalkeeper Chloe DeShazer for the first and only goal of the game.

The assists were credited to Mackenzie Rudden and Sophie King, who sent in the cross.

After receiving a goal with 17 seconds left at Arkansas State this past Thursday, NSU (1-1-1) was unable to generate the same magic Sunday evening.

“This is a tough place for any team to come,” NSU women’s soccer head coach Stuart Gore said. “I was proud of our performance tonight. It was a great roster effort. We now have to refocus going into next weekend.”

SMU (2-0-1) controlled much of the game, as a majority of the contest was being played in the Lady Demons defensive end.

It took the Mustangs less than a minute to attempt the game’s first shot, off the foot of Courtney Sebazco, which sailed high. That was a theme for SMU. While the Mustangs attempted 20 shots, the NSU defense limited them to four on goal.

Natalee Henry took the first shot attempt for NSU minutes later, but Samantha Estrada made the save, one of her two on the game.

After attempting 57 shots combined through the first three games (including the exhibition against Little Rock), the stingy SMU defense limited NSU to just four shot attempts.

However, the shots on goal tally was just 4-3 in favor of the homestanding Mustangs.

SMU dominated possession in the first half and had multiple chances. In the 24th minute, King sent in a pass from the left corner to Julissa Cisneros, but her shot went just wide left.

In the 43rd minute, SMU also had a dangerous ball off a corner kick, resulting in two shots, but the NSU defense stood tall and kept the home team off the board.

Northwestern State also had two major chances in the first half in an effort to even the score.

In the 30th minute, NSU’s Emme’ Fernandez and SMU’s Payton Doiron had a race to the ball in the box, but while Fernandez won the race, Doiron made a clean tackle to knock away the ball and turn away NSU.

Two minutes later, Sam Hanking generated the best chance for NSU, as she blasted a shot from outside of the top of the box, aiming for the top left corner of the goal, but a leaping stop from Estrada kept NSU off the scoreboard.

The chances were limited in the second half, but Henry began the half with a shot that sailed wide left. Halee Griffin added a shot in the 53rd minute that was stopped by Tatum Sutherland, who came in at the start of the second half. That was all for shots, though, as NSU was held without a shot for the final 36 minutes of the game by the suffocating SMU defense.

Henry led NSU with two shots, while Eliana Salama attempted seven shots and Jewel Boland attempted five to pace the Mustangs.

NSU finishes its stretch of four consecutive games on the road to open the season at Grambling on Sept. 4 before it heads back to Natchitoches for its home opener against Jackson State on Sept. 9, which begins a three-game home stand.

Photo: Chris Reich, NSU Photographic Services

What The Heroes Of American History Prayed For

By Edwin Crayton/Opinion

“All we can do now is pray.”  A Sunday School teacher pointed out that those familiar words reflect a widespread misunderstanding about the power of prayer. He said, when we utter those words, we imply that prayer is the last resort and isn’t much.  As a society, I believe, we do indeed tend to devalue prayer. When facing a need, it’s often the last solution we try, when in fact it should be the first thing we do when facing a trial or when trying to achieve a goal.  Prayer is powerful because it connects us to God and gets him involved in helping us.  Those who realize this are able to make a difference in every situation because God cannot and will not fail.  Of course, he answers prayers as he sees fit. But he always answers prayers. When we add faith to our prayers, he delivers (Mark 11:22-24). Many great contributors to our nation throughout American History have known this and prayer was often an essential part of their lives and accomplishments.  They put prayer first, not last.  One memorable example involved the election night of November 8, 1932. That was the night Franklin Roosevelt became president of the United States. Remember, he was disabled by Polio and could not walk. He was physically as helpless as a baby.  Quite a handicap for a new president taking office in the early years of the brutal, Great Depression. Yet, according to his son James, Roosevelt had only one fear. He was afraid he would not have the strength to do the tremendously challenging job ahead. As he was being put to bed that night, he told his son, “I am going to pray that God will help me, that he will give me strength and the guidance to do the job and to do it right.” Then the new president added, “I hope that you will pray for me too.”

I have been blessed to stumble across an insightful book titled, 50 Powerful Prayers That Changed the World (Thomas Hill Publishers, 2009). It was compiled By Susan Hill and has been beautifully illustrated by Francesca Resta, Isabella Grott and Julianne St. Clair. Basically, it is a collection of prayers of American icons in politics, science, the arts and religion. The book displays their actual prayers and features bios of each person as well as stories that help the reader understand the context of the time period when the prayers were written.  What is most striking about the book is hearing the prayers of people you don’t usually associate with praying or religious experience. People like Harriet Tubman, the courageous African American woman who liberated many slaves in the 19th Century—continually placing her life at risk by going again and again into dangerous situations.  Obviously, she enraged slave owners. At one time there was a $40,000 reward for her capture.  Tubman regularly prayed this prayer to God, “I’m going to hold steady on to you. You’ve got to see me through.” According to the author, “She believed God is a deliverer and protector of the weak.” The author added that Tubman would listen for the voice of God to guide her. Thomas Garrett, an abolitionist who knew her said, “I never met any person of any color who had more confidence in God.”  That confidence was justified. Her prayers were answered. Many human beings were freed and started new lives in the North. Tubman was never caught.

W.E. B. Dubois was one of the founders of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). He was one of the early leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, particularly during the first decades of the 20th Century. But when historians speak of him, it’s usually only in political terms—as a black activist, writer and scholar. The book shows another side—a spiritual one. Dubois prayed, “Give us grace, O God, to dare to do the deed which we well know cries to be done. Let us not hesitate because of ease, or the words of men’s mouths, or our own lives. Mighty causes are calling us—the freeing of women, the training of children, the putting down of hate and murder and poverty—all these and more. But they call with voices that mean work and sacrifice and death. Mercifully grant us O God, the spirit of Esther, that we say: I will go unto the King and if I perish, I perish.”

Praying isn’t always about asking for things. Sometimes we should offer a simple thanks to God. Why wait for Thanksgiving Day, when we are being blessed every second by a benevolent God? Some of the icons in the book expressed simple gratitude. George Washington Carver rose from slavery to become one of the greatest scientists the nation has ever known. He invented more than 100 products from the peanut plant.  Washington was also known for possessing a humble spirit. He turned down big money in order to remain at Tuskegee University, one of the original HBCUs (Historically Black College or University). Washington offered up this prayer to God. “O God, I thank thee for such a direct manifestation of thy goodness, majesty, and power.” Helen Keller was blind. But with the help of a brilliant teacher named Anne Sullivan, she was able to learn to overcome barriers. Keller became the first deaf-blind student to earn a bachelor of arts degree. She spent her life advocating for the disabled. Keller expressed this devotion: “For three things I thank God every day of my life: that he has vouchsafed my knowledge of his works: deep thanks that he has set in my darkness the lamp of faith: deep, deepest thanks that I have another life to look forward to—a life joyous with light and flowers and heavenly song.” 

The story about Franklin Roosevelt is not in the book. It was taken from an article in Time magazine. However, there is a story in the book about the prayers of another president—the very first president—-George Washington.  I have always been impressed that Mr. Washington did not cling to power when his two terms were up. I have heard historians suggest he might have been made king if he had wanted to be one. But Washington believed in Democracy. He also expressed a belief in God. In 1796 as he was retiring, he prayed for the nation and urged Americans to follow the “Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in the things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.” That prayer was written in 1796. Yet isn’t that a bit of advice America can still use today?  America was built by praying people. Not perfect people. To be sure. Their sins were many. But so are ours. Americans in the past however knew that God was the true strength of the nation. So, they relied on him. It worked. As we continue to unwisely remove God from public life, our nation runs the risk of offending our source of strength—the one who made America admired and respected the world over. Abraham Lincoln once quoted Matthew 12:25 from the Bible when he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.” I would paraphrase that and say: our nation cannot survive with half the people believing in God or respecting him and the other half not believing in him and disrespecting him by boldly disobeying his commands.  America needs to pray. Christians should lead the way (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Prayer works. Try it first. Not last. Believe when you pray, regardless. Then step back and watch what happens. And don’t forget to share what God has done for you with someone else so they too can discover the unmatched power of prayer.

 “You have not because you ask not.” -James 4:2

Look for this opinion article at least twice monthly in the Journal, usually on Tuesdays.

NSU brings together faculty leaders to discuss common issues

Northwestern State University recently hosted a statewide Faculty Summit sponsored by the NSU Faculty Senate. The event was an opportunity for the leaders in faculty shared governance from the University of Louisiana System to come together to discuss issues relevant to faculty members in 2022, according to NSU Faculty Senate President Dr. John Dunn.

The guest speaker for the summit was Dr. Eva Baham of Dillard University. Her topic was “The Great Spirit Behind It: Faculty as Integral to University Governance.” Baham is a genealogist and historian, focusing on the Black communities found in southern Louisiana. She also served as a faculty senator and senate president while at Southern University in Baton Rouge.

Dunn said the idea for the summit came out of the pandemic when faculty were teaching from quarantine.

“I saw, in my opinion, a smaller sense of community and less willingness to explore multi-disciplinary projects,” said Dunn. “The Faculty Senate, during the pandemic, existed as one of these communities. I think it did a lot for senator’s mental health to realize they were not alone in these ‘unprecedented times,’ as everyone kept putting it. Once face to face classes resumed on campus, the business of the senate became to expand our footprint within the UL System.”

Dunn met with other UL System Faculty Senate presidents at the annual For Our Future Conference in February after having discussions online for several months. That led to further discussions and Dunn suggested a regular live meeting of senate presidents to discuss higher education news, network and conduct business. NSU President Dr. Marcus Jones and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Greg Handel had the idea of expanding the meeting to invite additional faculty, have a guest speaker and schedule open sessions on topics affecting faculty in higher education. Dunn said UL System President Dr. Jim Henderson was also a major supporter of the meeting.

Faculty from eight of the nine universities in the UL System attended open sessions, each led by a different faculty senate president in the ULS. Topics included the image of faculty in national politics, faculty and library resources, seeing to the needs of our students, working with administration/staff/students, what it means to be “faculty” in 2022 and academic freedom, representation and tenure. Dunn said he hopes the Faculty Summit will be an annual event.