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Sunday, August 19, 2018
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Louisiana Public Square
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Panelist Bio


Rani Whitfield, M.D.
Family Practitioner / Guest Moderator

Dr. Rani G. Whitfield, a Board Certified Family Physician with a Certificate of added qualification (CAQ) in Sports medicine, is currently in private practice in his native Baton Rouge, LA.. Dr. Whitfield attended University High in Baton Rouge, and then went on to earn his undergraduate degree from Southern University. He earned his Medical degree from MeHarry Medical College in Nashville, TN and went on to earn his Certificate of Added Qualification in Sports Medicine from Ohio State University. Dr. Whitfield is an impassioned advocate for increasing the awareness of health related issues, such as HIV/AIDS, obesity, cardiovascular disease and substance abuse affecting today’s youth. Dr. Whitfield is very active in the community and the surrounding areas.

In 2004 Dr. Whitfield was selected by BET to appear on the critically acclaimed hit show “106 & Park” to discuss HIV/AIDS. In 2005 he agreed to become one of several noted professionals (Rev. Calvin Butts, Hill Harper, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Patti Labelle, comedian/actress Mo’Nique, Al Sharpton, Omar Tyree, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, etc) to share wisdom via a book entitled Not In My Family – a collection of essays that discuss AIDS in the African American community. He was featured in the book I Am A Father with his daughter, edited by David Manuel and has been a featured guest on the Michael Baisden Show, the Tom Joyner Show and a regular guest on the legendary Chuck D. show, On the Real. He has represented the American Heart/American Stroke Association and its Power to End Stroke campaign with the late Yolanda King (daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., gospel artists Bebe Winans, NBA analyst Kenny “The Jet” Smith, actress Cicely Tyson and R&B singer Chrisette Michele. As a result of his knowledge and exposure, in November 2007 “Tha Hip Hop Doc” served as Medical expert for a one hour special on BET entitled “What You Know About That” discussing sexual health, STD’s and HIV. Dr. Whitfield has also been featured on CNN multiple times discussing his community out reach as “Tha Hip Hop Doc”, heart health and Health Care reform in 2009. He has produced two music CD’s entitled “Tha Hip Hop Doc presents: State of Emergency”, and My Life In Your Hands and is currently working on his third; recorded 3 YouTube music videos; and has published a comic book series entitled The Legion of Health, as vehicles to encourage young people to adopt good health habits. In June of 2011 he was personally invited by Ms. Cicely Tyson to deliver the commencement address for the Cicely Tyson School of Performing Arts in East Orange, New Jersey.

He has volunteered invaluable time and knowledge throughout the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. He is also a physician volunteer and medical director of the National Association of Free Clinics Communities are Responding Everywhere (C.A.R.E) which provides free health care to the underserved patients across the USA. He is an active member of the American Academy of Family Practice (AAFP); American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM); American Medical Society of Sports Medicine; Louisiana State Medical Association (LSMA); and East Baton Rouge Parish Medical Society (EBRPMS). He is also an Ambassador/National Spokesperson for the American Heart Association, a Board member for the organization’s Southeastern Affiliates, and a member of the American Stroke Association’s Advisory Committee. Of his accomplishments though, even the $21,000 he helped raise as a member of the American Heart Association, Dr. Whitfield calls his most crowing achievement his six year old daughter Raina.

He is the recipient of the Time Warner Power Forward Award (2006), YMCA Black Achievers Award (2007) The American Stroke Association Ambassador Award (2007), the NAACP Freedom Award (2008), Baton Rouge’s Top 40 people under 40 (2008), the American Stroke Association Southeastern Affiliates Service Award (2008), the American Stroke Association Legacy Award (2009) The American Academy of Family Physicians Public Health Award (2010) and Winner of the Dancing with the Stars, Baton Rouge (2010). His music video “Let’s Go” featuring hip hop artist Love-N-Pain and R&B vocalist Ian Von, was recently nominated for the 2011 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 3rd Annual Film Series.

In his leisure time he plays bass guitar and raps with the band U4ria, exercises daily, is a mean cook, and is currently in training for USATF Masters 400 meter run raising money and awareness about Heart Disease and Stroke.

Current Topic


     08/18 - The Power of Reading

How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?
The ability to read sets the foundation of who we are and what we can be. Through reading we expand our world, learn new things and increase our base of knowledge. In fact, a parent’s reading level is the greatest factor in a child’s academic success. Children who can’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

In Louisiana, 20 percent of adults are illiterate – five points higher than the national rate. How is Louisiana combatting its illiteracy problem across generational lines? How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?

Louisiana Public Square: The Power of Reading looks for answers and explores the value of lifelong reading through the lens of the PBS series The Great American Read Wednesday, August 22 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recorded Tuesday, August 14 in the Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion at Baton Rouge Community College.)

Our panelists are:
- Linda-Marie Barrett, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)
- Rebecca Hamilton, MLIS; Louisiana State Librarian
- Danny Heitman; Journalist and Louisiana author
- Miranda Restovic, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH).
- Gary Robertson; Adult Literacy Advocates

The program features interviews with John Cavalier, owner of Cavalier House Books; Gary Robertson, Executive Director of Adult Literacy Advocates; representatives from the LEH PRIME TIME intergenerational reading program, and Superintendent John White with the Louisiana Department of Education.

LPB CEO Beth Courtney and Robyn Merrick, Southern University VP of External Affairs, host the show.

Louisiana Public Square can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

This episode of Louisiana Public Square is underwritten by Community Coffee’s Cash for Schools Program, the Louisiana Forestry Association, LSU Press and the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Authors Round the South.

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Special Presentation


     05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Coming Soon!


     09/18 - Revisiting Reform

Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended?

Recent Topics


     07/18 - Preventing Suicide

How is Louisiana addressing its suicide problem?

     06/18 - Louisiana: Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?  (ENCORE)

Is Louisiana a Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?

     05/18 - News About the News

How can viewers distinguish between fact and fake news and is social media blurring the difference?

     04/18 - Balancing Eldercare

How much does Louisiana spend on nursing homes versus home and community-based care?
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