Edward Pratt: Party’s over for Bill Cosby

For Bill Cosby, the party’s over. Too bad he can’t go to jail. I never thought Cosby was funny. His sophisticated humor just didn’t get me laughing. At best, I smiled occasionally. But he was a giant in his time with his rousing speeches encouraging African-American youths to stay in school and stressing the importance of … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Letter to Dad for Father’s Day

Dear Dad: Isn’t it interesting that I say “dad” when I never called you that while you were alive? It actually jarred me the first time MY son called me “dad.” On your special day, here are some other things I never got around to telling you. I guess if we had lived in … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Pool party fracas has shades of gray

I am all over the place in my thoughts about the now-infamous video of the McKinney, Texas, pool party that went haywire. Some are 100 percent certain that the white police officer was doing his job when he slammed a black, bikini-clad teenager to the ground and then pulled his gun on two other teens. Another … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Before her fame as an educational leader, Dr. Dolores Margaret Richard Spikes was a great teacher at Southern University

My story is about Dr. Dolores Margaret Richard Spikes, who died earlier this week. She was one of the most beloved and respected education leaders in this country. My story begins before she became chancellor at Southern University’s New Orleans and Baton Rouge campuses, and before she became president of the Southern University System, making her … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: First lady dared speak about race

First lady Michelle Obama smiles towards the crowd before she speaks during the Tuskegee University's spring commencement, Saturday, May 9, 2015, in Tuskegee, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

First lady Michelle Obama’s recent commencement speech at Tuskegee University bothered some people because she dared to talk about the realities of being black in America. How dare she? She was playing “the race card,” whatever that is, some said. That’s the new far-right talking point when race is mentioned and they can’t … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: A long march toward graduation

I watched more than 600 students receive their diplomas yesterday at Southern University’s Baton Rouge campus. I looked at them and thought, there are probably 600 different stories about how each student arrived at his or her big day. Here’s one that I know well: mine. Through gifts, yard-cutting and other means, I scraped together $160 … Continue reading →

Ed Pratt: Baltimore strife just latest in sad trend

Crime is increasing Trigger-happy policing Panic is spreading God know where we’re heading Oh, make me wanna holler That’s the late Marvin Gaye singing about similar times — police versus the black community — in the United States during the early 1970s. Fast-forward to now: Almost every week, there is a horrible, hard-to-explain … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Without support, we could see fewer success stories

There I was Wednesday standing in the energy-draining heat of midafternoon with about 300 Southern University students, faculty administrators, staff and supporters from all over the place. It was a rally on the steps of the State Capitol to let the state’s lawmakers know that deep budget cuts to higher education, and to Southern in particular, would have … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: What if there were no video of Slager?

In this combination of still images taken from an April 4, 2015, video provided by attorney L. Chris Stewart, representing the family of Walter Lamer Scott, Scott appears to break away from a confrontation with city patrolman Michael Thomas Slager, right, in North Charleston, S.C. In the video, as Scott runs away, Slager pulls out his handgun and fires at Scott, who drops to the ground after the eighth shot. Slager has been fired and charged with murder following the release of the dramatic video. (AP Photo/Courtesy of L. Chris Stewart)

There are times when you have to ask, “What if?” What if it had rained the day President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade wound its way through Dallas? What if Martin Luther King had not walked outside his Lorraine Motel room until night on that fateful day in 1968? There’s another “what if” many people are … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: How to blend athletic, academic success

Belmont head coach Rick Byrd directs his team against Virginia during the first half of an NCAA college tournament basketball game in the Round of 64 in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, March 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

I’m in the middle of a conversation when my cellphone rings. “Hello, I’m coach Rick Byrd. I’m returning your call.” Rick Byrd is probably one of the best college basketball coaches you’ve never heard of. He’s so good that none of his Belmont University Bruin teams will ever win the NCAA basketball championship. None of his teams … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Alcohol can’t explain racist chant

“That was the alcohol talking.” How many times have you heard this? I guess that comment also would have something to do with whom you hang around with. There is another group of folks for whom Demon Rum turns into a truth serum, causing them to spew venom that has been dormant for some time. … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Report shows bias in police ranks

The U.S. Justice Department found that a police officer did not violate Michael Brown’s civil rights when he shot and killed the 19-year-old to death in Ferguson, Missouri. But according to its report, the Justice Department sure found some of the nation’s best comedians carrying police badges and loaded weapons in Ferguson. In fact, they found … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Black-on-black crime needs attention

A couple weeks ago, I was looking at one of those annual stories in this newspaper about the number of murders committed in East Baton Rouge Parish. The total, 63, was not a record, so the headline was somewhat tame. There have been years when the good folks of EBR were a lot more inclined to do … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Man struggles to find his voice

Sometimes it’s difficult to talk to Ron Pennington. It takes him so long to get one word out. “Come on man, get those words out.” Occasionally, as a child, he would get “whooped up” emotionally by schoolmates’ laughter and teasing. The chiding was so bad at times that all he had to hold on to was the … Continue reading →

Ed Pratt: Keeping it off, up to a point

Tuesday night, more than a full year after spending a year losing weight, I stepped on my scale and guess what I saw? Well, you’ll have to wait until later in this column before you get the answer. Please, don’t cheat. Just wait. If you are a regular reader of my column, you know that I … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: A little girl’s Christmas letter

Maybe, just maybe, she’s doing something right, Qiana Thomas-Armstead thought when she saw a Christmas letter that her 7-year-old daughter wrote to a terminally ill little girl. “It brought tears to my eyes,” Thomas-Armstead said. “It got me over a tough period I was going through.” Sometimes, it takes our youngest celebrants and their innocence to … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Trio spans many years of friendship

Many years ago, my son struck up a friendship in kindergarten with a boy named Chris who lived in the same subdivision. For the next 24 years, they have been the best of friends. This column is about the in-between years and another friend who made them one of the smartest and most sarcastic trios ever. … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Lack of indictments troubling

Protesters in Times Square carry signs in reaction to a non indictment against a police officer in the death of Eric Garner, Wednesday Dec. 3, 2014 in New York.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

I’m bummed. What does a cop have to do for a grand jury to bring an indictment? Eric Garner’s death in New York City seemed to be a slam-dunk case. In this one, a New York police officer leapt on the back of an unarmed man, then got him in a chokehold to help subdue … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Looting, burning don’t solve problems

The verdict in Ferguson, Missouri, where a grand jury voted not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing an unarmed African-American teenager, was predictable. It is difficult to get an indictment of a law enforcement officer accused of killing someone in the line of duty, even when that officer chases a suspect and shoots … Continue reading →

Ed Pratt: The cold ‘cold case’ at Southern

I was very busy last week, so I didn’t get to write about an injustice that I have written about several times. But I have made time this week. Forty-two years ago last Sunday, on Nov. 16, 1972, two unarmed, innocent Southern University students were shot to death by Baton Rouge law enforcement officers on Southern University’s … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Voting was big deal for me

When I was a teenager there were two places I wanted to go when I reached 18 years old. One was Johnny’s Liquor Store at the corner of Terrace Street and East Boulevard, and the other was the Registrar of Voters Office. Johnny’s was a social and political hub of my community. Doctors, lawyers, schoolteachers, bricklayers, … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Bus ride has some senior moments

My wife and I are big Southern University Jaguar football fans. We have traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana, to Jacksonville, Florida, and to some place called Normal, Alabama, to see the team play. For years, we drove or flew to the games. We don’t drive as much these days to games that are more than three hours away. … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Plauche death brings back dark questions

Gary Plauche is one of the big interviews I never got when I was a newspaper reporter. I usually could get interviews that other reporters couldn’t and others wouldn’t attempt. But Mr. Plauche escaped me. I tried to interview his wife, his friends and everyone else close to him as an avenue into … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Chat with grandson brings good news

This past weekend, I got to watch a video of my grandson making some dazzling moves on the football field. He took a kickoff from near his goal and made a couple quick moves before darting and slashing across the field more than 90 yards to a touchdown. I was smiling and laughing as I watched him. … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: High school queen handles royal flip

I am a fan of Lauren Williams, and you should be, too. Lauren Williams fits the adage, “It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.” Last week, the 17-year-old high school senior was all smiles and looking splendid in her beautiful dress as she entered her school’s auditorium. She was Baton Rouge’s Miss McKinley High, … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Spankings helped keep me from trouble

I was 5 years old, and the men at Man King’s (pronounced Main Kang’s) car repair shop had grown weary of me begging them for beer. The shop was two doors down from my house. The men were listening to a baseball game on a transistor radio while they worked on cars under a shed and drank … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Memories from early days in newsroom

It was about this time 12 years ago that I retired from the daily newspaper business. After 26 years of working at four newspapers and holding several positions, I had come to the end. It didn’t hurt that I had an offer of a higher-paying job. A bunch of late nights chasing dead bodies, early morning house … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Grieve for the shootings here at home

Terry Coleman

There was raw emotion on display recently when an unarmed black youth was shot and killed. A portion of the African-American community was shocked and others were outraged. A group got together to express how they felt about the tragedy, to express their sorrow and to alert the public that something has to be done to … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: My little mountain (mis)adventure

This is a tale about doing something stupid, and it’s a story about my recent vacation. So, if you are like me and don’t like vacation stories, feel free to check out right now, and there will be no hard feelings. About a week ago, I tagged along with my wife on a trip to … Continue reading →

Pratt: The generations’ burden of love

I was with a group of friends recently in the midst of getting a location ready for a cookout. This was an annual event for my high school classmates and me. Essentially, it’s a reason to eat barbecue ribs and chicken, devour as many side dishes as possible, engage in fellowship and find … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Facing challenge of social media world

Earlier this week, I got “straightened out” by some folks at a meeting of a group I lead. For those who don’t know the jargon, “straightened out” means someone corrected me and told me the right thing to do. I head a group that basically serves in an advisory position for another entity. There have been some … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Unfortunate return to the Old South

I joined many Baton Rouge residents the other night to watch public television’s “Frontline” documentary, “Separate and Unequal,” which focused on the St. George community’s effort to form its own city and school system in East Baton Rouge Parish. It makes no difference whether you are pro- or anti-incorporation, we looked like the old racial South. … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Student beats big odds for dreams

I met Darnell Caldwell and her big smile a couple of days ago after discovering she had won a big monetary scholarship. She is a nursing student who has excelled and impressed people who only know that she has a chance to be great at her chosen profession. They don’t know the road that she has … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Seeing a man about his horse

Photo by EDWARD PRATT -- Troy Rhines rides his horse to the barbershop on Thomas H. Delpit Drive.

One recent evening, I was driving south on Thomas H. Delpit Drive in Baton Rouge, just past the venerable Parker and Dunbar barber shop when I had to make a U-turn. There was a horse standing outside the barbershop. I was on my way to a meeting at the time. But I had to go back. … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: A church wedding, 50 years later

My friend Rita is getting married again, sort of, this evening. She’s never been divorced. In fact, she and Linnis have been married for 50 years. The first time, Linnis and Rita Vallery got married in a relative’s backyard. The ‘do-over’ will be in a church. “I am surprised he’s going along with it,” … Continue reading →