Florida deputies mistake man for car thief in his own driveway

— Was he a suspect or a victim? A Florida Sheriff says an unarmed man — mistaken for a car thief and shot by deputies in his own driveway — is both.

He refused to obey commands and lunged at the deputies who fired their weapons 15 times to subdue him, they say.

Roy Middleton, 60, was hit by two of those rounds in his legs. He is in good condition at a Pensacola hospital after a metal rod was placed inside his shattered left leg.

“The tragedy of this is the noncompliance to the directions of law enforcement officers,” said Sheriff David Morgan of Escambia County, Florida. “Had that occurred we wouldn’t be having this discussion. It’s a tragedy all the way around. He is both a suspect and a victim.”

‘Like a firing squad’

The bizarre story started Saturday around 2:30 a.m. as Middleton was returning home.

Searching for a cigarette inside his White Lincoln Town Car — he appears to have been mistaken for a car thief by a concerned neighbor who called 911. Escambia County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremiah Meeks and Sgt. Matthew White responded to the call.

This is where the story takes a fork in the road.

Middleton’s family said he was not feeling well enough to discuss what happened to him.

But earlier this week, he told the Pensacola News Journal that he first thought someone was joking when they yelled at him to, “Get your hands where I can see them.”

He said that as he was turning around to face deputies with his hands raised, they opened fire.

“It was like a firing squad. Bullets were flying everywhere,” he told the Journal.

Deputies feared for their lives

But the deputies involved told a different story.

Meeks fired 12 shots and White fired three times, authorities said. They are now on paid administrative leave. Five of the bullets hit the White Town car, which was parked under a carport in a dark area of the property.

The deputies were in fear for their own safety, according to the sheriff.

“He came out of the car with more of a lunging motion coming out of the car, and the deputies were standing behind him and he had what appeared to be a metallic object in his hand,” Sheriff David Morgan said.

Not buying it

But Middleton’s family doesn’t believe that story. His mother, Ceola Walker, 77, told CNN that her son was holding his car keys with a small flashlight on the key chain. She does not believe he lunged at deputies.

“I don’t believe that. He said he didn’t. I don’t believe that,” she said.

She says her son is incredibly lucky.

“They could have hit his upper body, but they didn’t ….God just shielded him. I know he did, cause they was trying to kill him,” she said.

Andre Lauzon, who lives next door and witnessed the incident, said it lasted less than 30 seconds.

Deafening gunfire

He was out smoking a cigarette on his front lawn when the deputies arrived, he said. His view was obscured by darkness, and at one point he lost sight of Middleton.

But the sound of gunfire, he said, was deafening.

“I’m very surprised that all they did was hit him in the leg,” he said.

Timeline, lab analysis

Lauzon says his neighbor may have had trouble getting down to the ground because he was standing between his car and the wall of the carport.

“I don’t have any doubt — even not being able to see what was going on — that he was complying with them,” he told CNN. ” Maybe not in the time frame that the officer was looking for — but it seemed he was complying.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has taken over the investigation — at the request of the Sheriff’s Office.

“FDLE investigators are developing a timeline and conducting interviews and crime laboratory scientists are conducting lab analysis,” Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in a statement. “Once our investigation is complete, FDLE will provide the case to the state attorney’s office. The state attorney will determine whether or not any laws were broken.

Walker said her son takes pain medication for a bad back. The investigation will determine whether that played a role in the incident.

“The message to the public is this was a tragedy,” Morgan said. “And it was a tragedy because we had an individual, a citizen, who for whatever reason, either impairment due to alcohol or drugs, or just taking it upon himself not to be compliant to following basic direct orders.”

But his mother disputes the sheriff’s theory that her son was a suspect and a victim at the same time.

“How can you be a suspect and a victim at your own house? In your own yard, in your own car?” Walker asked.


™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

HBCU Sports Roundup

Over the past few weeks, we have heard some really great news concerning Historically Black Colleges and Universities:

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania: This weekend at the University of Maryland’s Coaches Camp. There were some big name coaches in attendance. I had the pleasure of meeting the NEW Head Women’s Basketball Coach, Kyle Adams. Congratulations to Kyle! He is very excited about the upcoming season, as well as the basketball camp that will be held August 5 – 8, 2013.

I will be heading up to Pennsylvania to learn more about the program and to check out the camp. By the way ladies, we have been told that they are looking for assistant coaches. So if you are passionate about basketball and are interested in getting into coaching, this is your chance! Contact the Department of Athletics or Kyle Adams at kadams@cheyney.edu.

Paine College: After decades without a football program (Paine College shut down the program in 1962), Paine College resurrected the program and in March of this year, hired Greg Ruffin. Ruffin has the task of putting Paine College back on the football map! Officially, games that matter will not be played until next football season (2014), but a few exhibition games will be played in October and November. This will give young men another location to look into. Congratulation goes out to Paine College and Coach Ruffin.


In other news, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) 2013 television football schedule includes one of Morgan State University road games. The nationally televised games are part of the MEAC’s ongoing partnership with ESPN. Morgan’s contest against South Carolina State, originally slated for Saturday, November 16, 2013 has been moved to Thursday, November 14 as part of the ESPNU Thursday night lineup. The live broadcast will begin at 7:30 p.m. The 2013 MEAC football television schedule includes eight contests. Besides the designated ESPN televisions networks, all games will also be available on computers, smart phones, tablets, Xbox and Apple TV via WatchESPN.

2013 MEAC Football Television Schedule

Sunday, September 1 Florida A&M v. Mississippi Valley State

ESPN 11:45 a.m.

Thursday, September 26 Howard at North Carolina A&T

ESPNU at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 28 Hampton at South Carolina State

ESPNU/ESPN3 at 2:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 5 South Carolina State vs. North Carolina A&T

ESPNU/ESPN3 at 4 p.m.

Thursday, October 10 South Carolina State at North Carolina Central

ESPNU,7:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 2 Bethune-Cookman at North Carolina Central

ESPN News, Noon

Thursday, November 14 Morgan State at South Carolina State

ESPNU at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 23 Bethune-Cookman vs. Florida A&M

ESPN Classic/ESPNU at 2 p.m.

That’s a look at HBCU sports for this week. Please send any questions or comments or HBCU Sports and news to: pdemps@btimes.com. Follow Phinesse Demps on Twitter: @lfpmedia; Baltimore Times: @baltimore_times.

Oprah to host fundraiser for Booker

— Oprah Winfrey is lending her star power to a rising star in the Democratic Party.

The influential TV personality and media titan will help host a fundraiser for Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who is running in a special election for a U.S. Senate seat.

Winfrey’s fundraiser will be Thursday in Jersey City, with tickets ranging from $1,000 to $2,600. Booker’s campaign confirmed the event to CNN.

Winfrey’s involvement isn’t too surprising. She has featured Booker on her show, and in 2011, she wrote a blurb about him for TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.”

“Cory Booker is a genius,” she wrote. “I could sense it the first day I met him. His enormous intelligence is surpassed only by his heart. He is compassionate, committed, charismatic and generous of spirit. He defines servant leader.”

She added that Booker is Newark’s “biggest cheerleader” and she looked forward to “the day we all get to cheer him on wherever politically he chooses to go.”

Since Booker launched his campaign in early June to fill the seat left vacant after Sen. Frank Lautenberg passed away, the Democrat has made a large fundraising haul. According to Federal Election Commission reports, Booker had raised $6.5 million as of June 30 and had $4.5 million in the bank.

Recent polls have consistently indicated Booker is the front-runner in the Democratic primary and in hypothetical matchups with Republicans. The primary takes place August 13, and the special election will be October 16.

CNN’s Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Compan

Back to school events prepare parents and children in AA County

— The calendar may still say July, but it’s never too early for parents to plan to attend Back-To-School Night at their child’s school.

More than 78,000 students are expected to enter Anne Arundel County classrooms when the school year kicks off on Aug. 26, and Back-To-School Nights provide parents with a chance to learn more about the instruction their children are receiving and the teachers who are providing that instruction.

Back-to-school events begin on August 22 for parents of students at Monarch Academy Public Charter School. Detailed information on dates can be found here or on the school system’s website.


Anne Arundel County Back to School Nights

Download .PDF

Detroit has finally hit bottom – let’s rebuild!

It has been a long and rocky ride down the economic slope for the Motor City. The first time I moved to Detroit was 1974. I was just discharged from the United States Army as a 2nd Lieutenant and motivated to excel in my new civilian career. Procter & Gamble hired me out of the University of Wisconsin as I graduated in 1970. Knowing I was about to be drafted they placed me in Toledo, OH for training and assured me that I would be placed in Detroit after my service. When I was discharged I found the sales office to have left the city of Detroit and moved to nearby Dearborn, MI. This was part of a big migration by corporate Detroit which had given up on the city and its firebrand mayor, Coleman Young.


Harry C. Alford, NBCC president/CEO

That was the beginning. Year after year and decade after decade the businesses, white middle class and then Black middle class left for the suburbs or across the country. The declining tax base, increasing crime rate, blight and debt beyond belief became too common for any good. Authorities “kicked the can” down the street on an annual basis (pretty much like our federal government today). Now Detroit is in very dire straits. It has a debt of $20 billion and can only generate about $1 billion per year for its annual costs. Bankrupt indeed!

I am glad to see the “bottom” because now we can only go up. Detroit is too big of a city with a great heritage for us to turn our backs on it. This is the stuff great things are made of. What we need now is a Project New Detroit Commission appointed by the Michigan Governor. Members of this panel should be made up of nonpoliticians and credible business managers. If I ruled this matter here is how I would throw down on the bleak situation.

There is rampant corruption. All city officials involved in any process where money is involved such as licensing, procurement, taxation, etc. should take a lie detector test and undergo a background check (revenue exceeds noticeable income). If anyone resists it should be considered a resignation. This should be handled by the prosecutor’s office after he and his office goes through the same scrutiny.

Gangs are the biggest distributors of drugs and the violence and crime related to it. Gang leaders (captain level and above) are to be identified and then prosecuted for Racketeering under the RICO statutes. No more leaders; no more gangs. Good riddance!

More than half the property tax owners do not pay their tax bills. Give them 90 days to catch up or make strict arrangements. Failure should lead to property seizure and quick auctions. This cash flow is critically needed for the city treasury.

The school system of Detroit is one of the worst in the nation. Effective immediately, there should be a Charter School licensing system. All schools charter and tax funded must teach literacy and mathematics with some science to grade efficiency beginning with first through twelfth grades. Elementary public schools can be replaced with these charter schools whenever practical. High schools should be considered for merger with others or just closed when literacy and math levels are inferior. Libraries will be privatized. You can’t have a great city without a quality workforce.

Detroit is the Capital for unions. This will end. All city related union contracts should be voided immediately and payroll and benefits will be in accordance with the Bankruptcy Committee and the ability to pay by the employers and shareholders.

The city will no longer be responsible for the parks and recreation facilities. The ownership remains with the city but the maintenance, grounds keeping, security, etc. will be privatized via a Request for Proposal process (3 year terms).

All utilities and hospitals will be privatized. RFP’s will be renewable on 10 year terms. City or county commissions will provide oversight and regulatory enforcement.

In regards to empty buildings and vacant lots, proposals will be accepted and reviewed. If viable and up to code, proposals will be approved deeded for $1. Development must begin immediately. 90% of workforce during the developmental stage and permanent hiring thereafter must be residents of Detroit.

City and schools bus systems will be privatized as soon as possible. Revenue sharing will be between the new owners and the city. Ownership can be for the entire city or particular zones.

The new Department of Transportation will be responsible for upkeep and repair of city streets, alleys, roadways and snow removal. A multiple or single privatization process will be applied with oversight done by a citywide commission.

Well, I think the above is a good start. Any comments or additions are welcomed. Here’s to a safe, vibrant and family friendly Detroit – devoid of corruption and blessed by our Lord.

Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

Feds want Texas to clear voting-rights changes with them

— The U.S. Justice Department will seek a federal court order forcing Texas to resume “preclearing” any changes to its voting laws, the first enforcement action by the Obama administration since the Supreme Court tossed out a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act.

Attorney General Holder made the announcement Thursday in a speech before the Urban League.

“My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against discrimination wherever it is found,” Holder said in Philadelphia. “Even as Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of the court’s ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the law’s remaining sections to ensure that the voting rights of all American citizens are protected.”

A divided 5-4 Supreme Court last month invalidated the formula used to determine which states or local jurisdictions — mostly in the South — could remain under special federal oversight, requiring them to get approval from Washington before making any changes in voting procedures.

That blunts much of the federal government’s enforcement power in states and localities with a history of discrimination at the polls.

The ruling does not change the fact it remains illegal to discriminate against a person when it comes to voting. But it does change how some governments have been singled out.

Holder said the Obama administration will use a different section of the Voting Rights Act that allows federal authorities to ask a judge to order a state to be put under the preclearance regime. To do so the Justice Department must prove “purposeful” discrimination.

Texas will be test case of the tactic.

The state is the subject of two ongoing court fights over its voter identification law and the voting boundaries created by the legislature.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott had indicated after the high court ruling that both the state voter identification law and its redistricting maps would go into effect immediately.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry criticized Holder’s remarks and defended the Texas “voter integrity” laws.

“Once again, the Obama administration is demonstrating utter contempt for our country’s system of checks and balances, not to mention the U.S. Constitution,” Perry said in a prepared statement. “This end-run around the Supreme Court undermines the will of the people of Texas, and casts unfair aspersions on our state’s common-sense efforts to preserve the integrity of our elections process.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was also defiant. “Texans should not — and will not — stand for the continued bullying of our state by the Obama administration,” he said in a news release Thursday.

Lawmakers in Congress have begun considering proposals to update the Voting Rights Act to ensure continued federal oversight. Holder said that while his department could act unilaterally, updating current laws is the real key.

“It is the duty of today’s Justice Department to continue monitoring jurisdictions around the country for changes that may hamper these voting rights — to keep taking appropriately aggressive action against any jurisdiction that attempts to hinder free and fair access to the franchise,” he said. “And to keep refining and refocusing current enforcement efforts while we work with Congress to craft stronger tools for protecting voting rights.”

Holder called the high court ruling “deeply disappointing and flawed.”

Under the section of the Voting Rights Act invalidated by the high court, any changes in voting laws and procedures in all or parts of 15 covered states — including Texas — were subject to federal oversight. That meant the Justice Department or a federal court had to sign off on all aspects, including something as simple as moving a polling place temporarily across the street.

The provision was reauthorized by Congress in 2006 for another 25 years. Officials in Shelby County, Alabama, subsequently filed suit, saying the monitoring was overly burdensome and unwarranted.

Chief Justice John Roberts, in his majority opinion, for the Supreme Court, said the decades-old formula still being used had “no logical relation to the present day.”

“While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy the problem speaks to the current conditions,” he said.

President Obama had characterized the ruling as a “setback,” even as he vowed his “administration will continue to do everything in its power to ensure a fair and equal voting process.”

Texas will not be the first state the Justice Department has sought to “bail in” under a different enforcement regime from the Voting Rights Act, which would still be allowed in the wake of the high court decision. Parts of New Mexico and Arkansas also were subject to that special federal oversight, but the provision requires the Justice Department to establish a new, comprehensive record of alleged “intentional” discrimination.

That means the burden of proof would initially be on Washington to show a state like Texas deserves continued special scrutiny. If that oversight is granted, the burden of proof would then shift to the state, when justifying any future changes in its voting laws.

Joe Johns reported from Philadelphia; Bill Mears wrote in Washington


™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Full moon may disrupt sleep, study says

— You don’t have to be a werewolf to feel restless when the full moon rises.

A new study in the journal Cell Biology suggests that people tend to get lower quality sleep around the time of full moons, snoozing an average of 20 minutes less than they do during a new moon.

“If you ask people, at least in Switzerland, about 40% report feeling the moon during sleep, or they blame the full moon for bad sleep,” said lead study author Christian Cajochen of the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel in Switzerland.

That’s why he and his colleagues decided to investigate.

The study

The study included 33 healthy volunteers, between ages 20 and 74. Participants slept under strictly controlled conditions in a laboratory with no windows, so they had no way of seeing the moon. They stayed in the laboratory for 3½ days. Humidity and temperature were controlled.

Neither the participants nor the researchers knew, at the time of the experiment, that the phase of the moon would become part of the study. This decision reduced any bias that either group may have introduced regarding the moon — but also presented the drawback that the study didn’t look at all phases of the moon’s cycle.

The data come from an experiment done 10 years ago; Cajochen and colleagues didn’t analyze the results in terms of lunar patterns until several years after they did the study and waited to publish until now.

The results

The full moon was associated with a 20-minute reduction of total sleep time, the study authors found.

Researchers also found that it took about five minutes longer for participants to fall asleep around a full moon than around a new moon. Deep sleep was, on average, 30% decreased around the time of a full moon.

People sleeping in the lab nearer to the day of a full moon also had lower evening levels of melatonin, a hormone important to circadian rhythm that drives the body’s cycles of day and night and, therefore, wakefulness and sleep.

“We have evidence that the distance to the nearest full-moon phase significantly influences human sleep and evening melatonin levels when measured under strictly controlled laboratory conditions, where factors such as light and personal moon perception can be excluded,” the study authors wrote.

Study limitations

The number of participants in the study was small so the results may not apply to wider population. Also, the researchers didn’t control what volunteers were exposed to in the week before the study; their individual environments could have influenced their sleep habits.

Generally, the methods and analyses in this experiment are solid, said Philip Gehrman, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study.

In graduate school, Gehrman analyzed data about the sleep habits of older adults with Alzheimer’s disease in nursing homes to see if lunar cycles had an effect. He didn’t find one, but “the nurses would swear that the patients became more agitated and slept worse during a full moon,” he told CNN in an e-mail.


The current Cell Biology study wasn’t set up to find out why the full moon may interfere with sleep, but Cajochen speculated the human brain may have an internal clock that is somehow synchronized with the moon. Scientists already know about circadian rhythms. There may also be a clock that’s driven by lunar cycles.

Some marine species have been shown to have reproductive patterns that sync up with lunar cycles, Cajochen noted.

“We don’t know whether humans still have it and why,” he said.

Further research would be necessary to confirm these findings — for instance, functional magnetic resonance imaging could help scientists figure out what’s going on in the brain during sleep at various stages of the lunar cycle.

To find more proof than this study, the experiment would need to be conducted over on a longer period of time, Cajochen said. Already this study required participants to be observed in the lab for 3½ days; to build on this research, people would have to stay in the controlled setting for at least 30 days to cover an entire lunar cycle.

“That would be the ultimate study, but it’s going to be very expensive,” he said.


™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

AACC names Makell to lead women’s basketball team

Anne Arundel Community College has named Lionel Makell of Shadyside as the new head coach of its Pioneers Women’s Basketball team. Makell, who was named Most Outstanding Male Athlete for both 1983 and 1984 and selected for the All-star Men’s Basketball team when he attended AACC, has been coaching at Southern High School where he also is a long-term substitute teacher for special education. From August 2009 to the present, Makell has served as Southern’s head coach for the girls’ varsity softball team in 2011-12 and in 2012-13, and was an assistant women’s varsity basketball coach and an assistant football coach.

Plans for his first year are underway, including networking with high school coaches, visiting open gyms, partnering with returning players and marketing the team through social media.

“I want to focus on recruiting young women who desire to be a part of a winning program, who understand that it’s going to take hard work, sacrifice, dedication and commitment to be part of this team,” he said. They also should understand his definition of success as “the continual achievement of predetermined goals, stabilized by balance and purified by belief.”

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1988 from Salisbury University where he was a member of the 1986 National Championship Runner-up Football Team. Since his graduation, he has been involved in coaching at a variety of levels. He was an assistant coach at Broadneck High School from 1989-1990, including the State Champion Broadneck Girls Basketball team in 1989. He coached at the Blue-Star Basketball Camp sponsored by Lehigh University, Rutgers University and University of Delaware from 1989 to 1997. He worked with the Special Olympics three times, serving as the strength and conditioning coach for track and field athletes in 1991 and as the head bowling in 1995 and 1999. Since 2000, he has coached at basketball and football clinics for youth and high school students.

AACC offers an extensive program of intercollegiate athletics for both men and women, including baseball, basketball, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball and volleyball. For information about AACC’s program, call 410-777-2300 or visit the website, www.aacc.edu/athletics.

Anne Arundel Co. names Mamie Perkins interim schools superintendent

The Board of Education of Anne Arundel County has appointed Mamie Perkins, a 40-year educator who served as acting superintendent of Howard County Public Schools in 2011-2012, to serve as interim superintendent of Maryland’s fifth largest school system for the coming school year. Perkins was appointed by an 8-0 vote, with Board Member Stacy Korbelak absent.

The 62-year-old Perkins, who spent more than 26 years in Howard County and 13 years in Baltimore City schools before retiring in August, will succeed outgoing Superintendent Kevin Maxwell on August 1, 2013. Dr. Maxwell, who has led Anne Arundel County Public Schools since 2006, will become Chief Executive Officer of Prince George’s County Public Schools the same day.

Watch Mamie Perkins appointment

“Mamie Perkins is a passionate advocate for children who has diverse experiences over a long career that will serve our school system very well in the coming year,” Board President Teresa Milio Birge said. “Our Board is confident that she will work with the dedicated team we have in place to continue the upward trajectory our school system has been on over the last seven years.”

Perkins will be paid $197,087 for the 11 months of the contract, which will end on June 30, 2014.

“As the Board navigated this process, it was very clear to us that there are people within our school system who may well be a good fit for both this position and the permanent position, and we certainly considered those candidates,” Birge said. “However, we had serious discussions about not leaping to select someone currently in our school system at this point who may be a candidate a year from now and, in the process, disadvantaging other potential candidates. After evaluating all of the factors, the Board felt it was in the best interests of all of those people and of our school system to select an external candidate to serve for the coming year.”

Perkins began her educational career as a classroom teacher in Baltimore City in 1973. She worked there until 1986, also serving as a resource teacher for foreign-born students, a summer school principal, a supervisory teacher for student teachers, and a reading resource teacher for adult learners.

She moved to Howard County in 1986, where she worked as a teacher for gifted and talented programs, coordinator of elementary and health education, and supervisor of health education. She oversaw the system’s Human Resources department from 1999 to 2005, and was chief of staff from 2005 to 2011, when she became deputy superintendent. She was acting superintendent of the school system from June 2011 to July 2012, and retired in August 2012.

“I have watched with great admiration the work that this Board of Education and Dr. Maxwell have done in recent years, and I am ecstatic to be a part of helping to continue the great things that are in place here over the next year,” Perkins said. “I am especially excited about the opportunity to get back to working with teachers and staff, and to get into schools to see the good things that are happening for children every day.”

Said County Executive Laura Neuman: “I have enjoyed a collaborative and productive relationship with the school system since becoming County Executive and I very much look forward working with Ms. Perkins over the coming year. Our school system is a vital part of what makes our county great, and working together we can create even more opportunities for our children.”

Perkins has also been an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education since 2004. In April, she was appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley to a six-year term on Howard Community College’s Board of Trustees, a position she intends to keep through the coming year.

Perkins holds a bachelor’s degree from Towson University and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She lives in Marriottsville with her husband, Carl.

Applications open for the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey, Essence Magazine

— Plans are underway for the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine. U.S. high school students ages 13-19 can apply to attend this innovative outside-the-classroom educational and mentoring program at Walt Disney World Resort. Applications are now open and must be submitted at: www.disneysdreamersacademy.com by October 31, 2013.

Entering the search for its seventh class, Disney Dreamers Academy continues to hold true to its mission to inspire and fuel the dreams of teens, help them discover a world of possibilities and help them prepare for the future. Each year, 100 students— selected from thousands of applicants— participate in hands-on, full-immersion workshops related to a bevy of career paths ranging from animation to zoology. Each participant learns important skills such as communication techniques and networking strategies.

It all takes place in a magical setting: the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks. Both on stage and behind the scenes, the parks become vibrant ‘classrooms,’ leading to career discoveries, the pursuit of dreams and fun memories to cherish for a lifetime.

Motivational speakers and celebrities share their stories and provide insight on how to achieve success and DREAM BIG. Dreamers have the opportunity to cultivate relationships with other students from across the nation while they gain first-hand knowledge from Disney experts and world-renowned entrepreneurs and executives.

“Over the past six years, we have helped 600 Dreamers unlock their potential and get started on their journeys in life,” said Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. Powell. “The seventh Disney Dreamers Academy marks another year of continued motivation, education and success. Steve Harvey and Essence Communications share in our vision of enriching lives. Everyone leaves this program inspired to live their best life.”

Participants and a parent or guardian will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, where they will engage in life-changing sessions and enjoy Disney’s magical theme parks. The 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy will take place March 6 – 9, 2014.

Steve Harvey, syndicated radio and television personality, along with Essence Magazine and Walt Disney World Resort will host the selected Dreamers during their four-day power packed career and educational exploration. Harvey, speaking on the program, says, “Disney Dreamers Academy gives hope and inspiration and exposes youth to a world of possibilities. We are excited about another opportunity to transform lives and give students an inside look at what their future can hold.”

Launched in 2007 by Disney Parks, Disney Dreamers Academy has evolved into a year-round initiative with its informational Facebook and Twitter social media platforms; an interactive website; presence at community outreach partner events like the Essence Festival, the National Association of Black Journalists Convention, the Bud Billiken Parade, and the addition of the Disney Dreamers Academy Speakers Resource Group, which consists of various Dreamers Academy event speakers and presenters who serve as program ambassadors. This year, Dreamers also had the chance to win internships, allowing them the chance to test skills learned at Disney Dreamers Academy.

Essence Communications President Michelle Ebanks added, “We are excited about the seventh Disney Dreamers Academy. This program transcends the normal classroom setting, taking learning to the next level. This year we plan to go above and beyond to encourage Dreamers. Our valued partnership with Disney Parks and Steve Harvey serves as a firm commitment to the community and leaders of tomorrow.”

This December, a distinguished panel of leaders from the communications, education and entertainment industries will judge the applications. Winners will be announced in early 2014.

For more information visit www.disneysdreamersacademy.com, www.facebook.com/disneysdreamersacademy or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dreamersacademy.