Pratt: A grandson’s long march to graduation

I was sitting in a big, Dallas-area civic center last Saturday as nearly 500 young men and women walked in neat lines in their graduation caps and gowns. It was a ceremony I have witnessed many times over the years. This one meant a lot to me because Evan, my grandson, was … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: 'Lack of decorum' at graduations a sad comment on the times

If someone my age complains about something that teenagers, twentysomethings and thirtysomethings are doing, then we are relegated to the so-called “get-off-my-lawn” group of stereotypical, middle-age Americans. The young critics say folks like us yearn for a time that is gone and needs to be forgotten. This is what you hear: “Look, old dude, you’ve had your … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: A man buries his daughter, then his wife

For about 10 minutes last Saturday, I stared at Richard “Cooter” King, a man I have grown to admire over the years. My admiration is even stronger now. This is a column about love, loss and a man’s strength. I don’t see 84-year-old King very often, probably about twice a year at the most. But … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Shootings underscore the need for action

Officials investigate the scene where two female Southern University students were killed at The Cottages Apartment Complex in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, April 10, 2016. Detectives didn't immediately identify any suspects or motives in the shooting, which occurred in a parking lot outside an apartment complex around 2 a.m., said Baton Rouge Police Sgt. Don Coppola Jr. (Patrick Dennis/The Advocate via AP)

“If people are messing with you, you just kill them. … Shoot them and run, put the gun in a paper bag and drop it somewhere. I would just go home and act like nothing happened.” That’s from an 8-year-old boy at Baton Rouge’s Park Elementary School that I interviewed more than 20 years ago for a … Continue reading →

Ed Pratt: How anonymous donor made 10-year-old Baker girl’s wish come true

Sometimes there is good news, and sometimes there is great news. This falls under the latter. Ten-year-old Katelyn Roche fell on the floor in her house last week, overwhelmed by happiness and surprise by what her grandmother was showing her. It was a check an anonymous benefactor had sent her to cover the cost of a computer … Continue reading →

Ed Pratt: Imagine chat between Bobby Jindal and Donald Trump; I promise you'll laugh

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally Friday, March 11, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Folks, given the financial troubles of our great state, we all need to have a laugh. Just imagine: It’s early on April 21, 2017, the birds are chirping and sunlight is streaming into the Oval Office of President Donald J. Trump. (Remember, this is make-believe. …) His advisers, White House staff and his wife, Melania, have … Continue reading →


Edward Pratt: People finally hearing truth about Louisiana budget, and some lawmakers don't like it

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --  Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie,  speaks at a meeting of the Joint Legislative Education Committee, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 at the State Capitol.

My grandmother would often hold a truth and consequences meeting with me toward the end of some months. Sitting in her rocking chair, she would take a dip of J.W. Garrett snuff between her bottom lip and gums, and then she would ask if there was something I needed for school. All she wanted was the … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: This fairy tale couldn’t happen here

Let me tell you a fantastical story that I heard recently. The storyteller swears it’s true. As the story goes, back in medieval times there was a grand young man, El Bob the Lack-of-Heart, who became Prince of Lardzanna, an unusual realm in the southern countryside. When El Bob took over Lardzanna, he was … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: The kind of signees we need to see more of

This past week’s attention given to high school athletes gave me a great idea for a special occasion I think would be inspirational for teenagers. The media was eager to cover the annual hoopla surrounding high school football players as they signed letters of intent to various colleges around the country. Their signatures, in some corners, are … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Cam Newton’s image stirs debate

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton celebrates with fans after the NFL football NFC Championship game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Charlotte, N.C. The Panthers won 49-15 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

One morning when I was a nearly hip teenager, I was with a group of about six guys headed to the woman in our neighborhood who pierced ears. It was considered cool, and “everybody” was doing it. Actually, there weren’t that many. Many parents and older adults didn’t like it. Their thought was that if you had … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: President visits my alma mater

And there he was, the president of the United States, walking into the gymnasium at my old high school. That’s right, Barack Obama, the leader of the free world, was at McKinley High School this week in the middle of a cheering audience. I bet many of the audience members never thought they would drive through “The … Continue reading →

Ed Pratt: Sounding alarm — again — on AIDS crisis

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Nurse practitioner Leah Cullins gives a tour of the patient rooms on Monday at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Baton Rouge.

My friend Leah Cullins can tell you how tough it is to give someone the life-changing news that they are HIV positive. And Cullins can tell you about the emotional devastation that a child and family experienced when the teenager was told that a test had come back HIV positive. Seeing the pain on their faces, … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: New Year’s toast lands spanking

I was about 5 years old when I truly began to understand that people celebrated New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I got the idea that it was special when I noticed that my grandmother would drink something called Mogen David. It looked like a big bottle of grape drink to me. … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Ritual of giving lifts the heart

If you want to be humbled, come with me this Tuesday when I bring a Christmas gift from the members of my high school graduating class to a deserving student from our alma mater. You can’t come with any preconceived notions about the person receiving the gift. Be prepared to feel tons better after you leave than … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Truth too dangerous for Chicago officials to admit

Alfred Adler, a noted physician and psychotherapist of the late 1800s and early 1900s, must have envisioned the Chicago Police Department and others like it when he said, “A lie would have no sense unless the truth were felt dangerous.” The truth definitely felt dangerous in Chicago recently when its Police Department and top city officials were … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Time to live up to our ideals

What are you thinking about right now? I hope you’re thinking about casting your ballots in local elections and the governor’s race, if you haven’t done so already. It’s important. I voted early last week and wore my “I voted” sticker on my shirt, hoping to inspire others. … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Teacher didn’t care about my blackness

The recent controversy arising from complaints by African-American students that they feel unsafe and ignored and have to endure racism at their predominantly white universities caused me to reflect on my college days, but about something completely different. When I arrived at historically black Southern University in fall 1972, the civil rights movement … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: David takes on King Kong Saturday

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern University Marching Band drum major Keith Morgan and the Human Jukebox are scheduled to perform at the University of Florida during halftime.

Can you believe it? Southern University and A&M College’s Jaguar football team will be in Athens, Georgia, today to play the big bad University of Georgia Bulldogs of the Southeastern Conference. That’s right, the SEC. Any prognosticator worth his or her salt, even proud SU fans like myself, would not predict that this will be a close … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Friends watch my waistline for me

Sometimes you have to know who your real friends are. Several weeks ago, I was pulled into a conversation by an acquaintance as I walked down the aisles of a popular big-box grocery store. The conversation was going great guns — until suddenly, and without provocation, the acquaintance took note of the groceries in my shopping cart. … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Davis basks in media fallout

When I was a very young fella, my grandmother would wake me up about 5 a.m. to get dressed to walk about 50 yards to the west, in the dark, to New Jerusalem Baptist Church for the 6 a.m. Sunday service. On my wishes, we would sit up close because I was … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Seeking strangers to get through tragedy

In early July, April Guillory was a smiling bridesmaid in my daughter’s wedding. They have been friends for years. Guillory is one of my extended family members. She has a sense of humor that meshes well with my different kind of personality. She’s like an extra daughter. Less than two weeks after the wedding, Guillory’s world changed … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Donald Trump recalls childhood love of whoppers

The Donald Trump phenomenon of saying whatever you want, whether it is true, false or somewhere in the fuzzy middle, with little challenge, has made me think about some of my experiences with unfettered storytelling. When I was elementary school age, some of us guys would sit around and tell some whoppers to get everybody’s attention. We … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: How to get home from a police stop

Photo by MARK H. HUNTER -- Fifteen-year-old Jalen Butler, a sophomore at McKinley Magnet High, won first place at for his ideas to improve our community at 'A Gathering of Neighborhood Boys,' where he also talked about the importance of mentors.

Last Saturday morning, I gathered up my camera equipment and headed to my church to take a few photographs at a program called “A Gathering of Neighborhood Boys.” The idea behind the event was to have a young African-American speaker inspire boys from elementary to high school to commit to their education. Another … Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: A program to show that black lives matter

Way back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was young reporter playing on one of this newspaper’s softball teams. One of the opposing teams was a bunch of young lawyers. One of the lawyers was Hillar Moore III, the current East Baton Rouge Parish district attorney. I can announce, without equivocation, that Moore is a … Continue reading →

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 →