Our Views: 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 →

Ed 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 →

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 →