The Lincoln University posthumously awards long-overdue honorary degree

— The Lincoln University posthumously awarded a long-overdue honorary degree to Charles Cecil Dennis, Jr. ’54 at the black-tie, Annual Homecoming Alumni Awards Banquet, Friday, Oct. 25..

“This is long overdue and only right,” said Dr. Robert R. Jennings, president of The Lincoln University. “Our Board of Trustees voted to honor this distinguished alumni more than 30 years ago.”

Dennis’ widow, Agnes Cooper Dennis, and other family members will be present to accept the honor.

The late-Dennis, Liberia’s then-Minister of Foreign Affairs, was tragically executed during the Liberian Civil War only days prior to receiving the honorary degree along with the now late-Congressman William Gray, Dr. Lorraine Williams, then-Vice President at Howard University and Dr. David Morris, ’18, a distinguished physician and retired member of the Board of Trustees during Commencement Exercises in 1980.

In total, 13 Liberian officials were killed on April 22, 1980, including Dennis – the story recounted in “The House At Sugar Beach,” a memoir by Dennis’ cousin, Helene Cooper, and published by Simon & Schuster in 2008.

Dennis graduated from Lincoln in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a Law degree from Georgetown University in 1957.

During his tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs, he represented then-Liberian President William R. Tolbert, Jr. at such meetings as the Afro-Arab Cooperation, the Non-Aligned Countries Movement, and the Organization of African Unity (OAU), currently known as the African Union (AU), the Joint Ministerial Meeting of the Arab League, as well as the Organization of African Unity for Afro-Arab Cooperation.

Dennis was a member of the several social organizations, including: the Free & Accepted Masons, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and was a founding member of the men’s social club, “Y- Go-Getters.”

The Alumni Awards Banquet will also honor other alumni with the Alumni Medal of Distinction, Alumni Service Award, Outstanding Young Alumni Award and the Director’s Choice Award.

Fall in line for your flu shot

The leaves are beginning to change color, the stores are filled with Halloween decorations, and temperatures are finally starting to dip. Fall has arrived in Maryland and that means it’s also the beginning of flu season.

Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. The illness causes missed work and school days. In 2010, Americans missed 100 million workdays due to flu-related illness, resulting in more than $10 billion in costs to companies’ bottom lines.

The best way to protect yourself and reduce your chances of getting the flu this year is to get a flu vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control, everyone who is at least six months of age should get a flu vaccine. It is increasingly important to get vaccinated for people who have certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or chronic lung disease, pregnant women, young children under five and people 65 and older.

Despite the evidence and recommendations, thousands of Marylanders won’t get vaccinated this year. Not only does that put your own personal health and well-being at risk, but it increases the chances of your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors getting sick too. Consider the following:

Getting the shot will not give you the flu

According to the CDC, the flu shot vaccine is made with either inactivated flu viruses (and therefore not infectious) or with no flu vaccine viruses at all. Many people report experiencing flu-like symptoms after getting the vaccine, such as muscle pain or weakness, but these symptoms go away after a day or two, and are much less severe than the actual flu.

Young, healthy people get the flu, too

Influenza does not discriminate against age or healthy habits. Just because you’re young or don’t typically get sick doesn’t mean you can’t catch the flu. According to the CDC, people who have the flu can spread it to others from as far as six feet away. You can also catch the flu from someone who has yet to exhibit any signs or symptoms of being sick.

The flu shot is not expensive

In most cases, the cost of a flu shot is covered by your health insurance plan, whether you buy health insurance on your own or are covered through your employer, through Medicare or Medicaid. More employers are now offering free onsite flu shot clinics at the office. If you get the flu, the cost of treating it and the potential for missed days of work or school far exceed the cost of the vaccination.

Getting the flu shot vaccine is fast, easy and convenient

Getting a flu shot takes no more than five minutes. Most neighborhood pharmacies even offer walk-in options, so you don’t need to make an appointment. If you are unemployed or your employer doesn’t offer flu shots, you can go to your primary care doctor or nearby wellness clinic, most retail pharmacies or contracted flu shot providers. To find a list of flu shot providers near you, visit

Make your and your family’s health a priority this year by getting a flu shot. If you do, you’ll likely be able to enjoy that trick-or-treating a little more.

Catherine E. Palmier, M.D. is the chief medical officer of the northeast and southeast regions for United Healthcare.

Spoken word artist releases book on balancing love and childhood issues

— Spoken word artist Cherrie Amour has released her first book of poetry, “Free to Be Me: Poems on Life, Love and Relationships.” The book poetically explores Cherrie’s geographical and emotional journey from childhood to adulthood and from the Caribbean to Canada and from Detroit, Michigan to her current hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. In “Free to Be Me” Cherrie takes readers into her journey of dealing with feelings of abandonment, while revealing personal remedies for healing. “Free to Be Me” is available in print and e-book formats on

Cherrie’s soulful poetic verses in “Free to Be Me” tell stories of separating from her parents at just two years old, when they immigrated to England to create a better life for their family. Upon reuniting with her parents at eight years old after living with her grandparents, an implicit relationship void had occurred causing Amour years of bonding issues, challenges with intimacy, and issues in love relationships. “Emotional scars left unhealed after abandonment can lead to dysfunctional relationships throughout life. Channeling feelings through the creative writing process, as Cherrie has done, is one way to start the healing process,” says Dr. K. Carey, Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor specializing in family, and marital relationships.

“Free to Be Me” is about turning wounds into wisdom and sharing an intimate journey of trials and triumphs from a poet’s personal perspective. “I was inspired to begin writing this poetic memoir shortly after my mother’s passing. Particularly because we had worked through many of our mother/daughter issues caused by my feelings of abandonment. It took years for me to fully accept my parents’ reasons for making difficult life choices and many more years for me to forgive and heal. I hope my book will give readers a point of reference for their own journeys,” says Cherrie.

To learn more about Cherrie Amour visit:

Robinwood celebrates Community Day

— The Robinwood Housing Community celebrated its annual Community Day on Saturday, October 19, 2013. Carolyn Keen, president of the Resident Council has been in charge of organizing the community day celebration for the last three years. She said it’s a day for the residents and community members to get together and celebrate the neighborhood in which they live.

Keen said Robinwood is a community of change and she welcomes all of Annapolis residents to come out and visit and see the changes. The local fire station Engine #35 provided area children an opportunity to meet firefighters and explore a fire truck.

Alderman Kenneth Kirby and Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson were on hand to lend support to the community event.

Community Day included free flu shots offered by Rite-Aid; food and drinks; a moon bounce; music and games. Vendors sold books, jewelry, clothing and handmade NFL items.

Keen expressed gratitude to committee members who helped organize the events including: David Harris, vice president; Raquel Wells, treasurer; and Bernyce Hight, sergeant-at-arms.

‘12 Years’ a hit with black filmmakers

Famed film director John Singleton says when movies about African Americans debut, he is always one of the first to be called for insight. Singleton, who directed the 1991 critically acclaimed drama, “Boyz in the Hood,” recently realized that his telephone hasn’t stopped ringing.

“I’d like to talk about other movies, too,” he said, but acknowledged that he doesn’t mind addressing the recent avalanche of black films, including what many view as an Oscar front-runner, “12 Years a Slave.”

“I’ve seen it and I can tell you it’s a work of art,” Singleton said. “Steve McQueen, who is black and from the United Kingdom, has created a raw and unflinching look at a black man’s descent into one of the darkest chapters of American history, it’s as authentic as it gets.”

Kasi Lemmons, who directed such films as, “Talk to Me,” and “Eve’s Bayou,” said “12 Years a Slave,” and other African American films have resonated throughout Hollywood and around the globe because of their frank portrayal of the various trials of blacks.

“It’s really unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” said Lemmons, whose new film, “Black Nativity,” will hit the big screen next month. “These films are all different— comedies, dramas, historical dramas, musicals. It really is a whole range of movies primarily directed by and starring African Americans. It’s pretty exciting. “

McQueen’s film “12 Years,” arrived in theatres on Friday, October 18, and counts as a harrowing and unforgettable tale that not only takes audiences back to early America where slavery was an everyday reality, but it confronts the dark reality of this country’s history.

In 1841, Solomon Northup, a free man working as a musician in Saratoga, New York, with a wife and two children, left for a trip to Washington, D.C. Two strangers approached Northup, and claimed to be businessmen seeking to hire a musician. After dining with the men, Northup awakens in chains, captured by slave traders.

He is beaten and shipped to the South to be sold, ultimately to a man named Epps, portrayed in the film by Michael Fassbender.

The beatings are so grotesque and stomach turning, that Fassbender himself noted that he couldn’t watch the retakes during the editing of the film. “It made me sick, I nearly passed out, that’s how real it was,” said Fassbender, who has appeared in such films as “X-Men: First Class,” “Inglourious Basterds,” and “Jane Eyre.”

Violence and degradation dominate the film, including a hard-to-watch scene in which Northup stands all day with a noose around his neck as the ground sinks beneath him as slave owners, slaves and every day folk pass by without acknowledging he’s there.

“There should be Oscar nods for McQueen, screenwriter John Ridley, lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who gives the performance of a lifetime; and, hopefully, Fassbender, who plays the most compelling big-screen villain this year,” Singleton said, adding that it should be noted that the film would not have been made had it not been for Brad Pitt, who produced the movie and played a small but crucial role.

“There are few stars as big-hearted as Pitt with an interest in exploring challenging subjects,” Singleton said. “More should definitely follow his bold example.”

John Ridley’s deft, well-structured screenplay of “12 Years” balances moments of terror with telling glances of Northup’s sad resignation, film critic Joe Neumaier said.

“The music in the film underscores gently or, at times, jarringly, a symphonic suggestion of being caught in a machine. Through it all, Ejiofor and Fassbender are astonishing,” Neumaier said.

In a previous interview, Ejiofor said the movie is a telling portrayal of not only an American story but one that’s international as well.

“I’ve seen this story, specifically set in America, as an American story, but I’ve always seen the kind of international aspects of slavery, the universal themes that the film is discussing and how this kind of system was imposed throughout the African Diaspora,” said Ejiofor, who has starred in such big screen hits as, “American Gangster,” “Inside Man,” and “Four Brothers.”

With a $20 million budget, Forbes estimates that “12 Years a Slave,” will eventually gross more than $100 million at the box office. The film, based on Northup’s 1853 memoirs, hints that he had an apparent disregard for the reality of slavery before his abduction, according to Neumaier.

Yet, his journey into its horrors becomes the audiences’ own.

“McQueen has made a film comparable to ‘Schindler’s List,’ art that may be hard to watch, but which is an essential look at man’s inhumanity to man,” Neumaier said. “It’s wrenching, but ‘12 Years a Slave,’ earns its tears in a way few films ever do.”

Talking baseball, football and rain

I don’t pay much attention to baseball until the playoffs roll around. That’s when things get interesting.

Our O’s, one of the best if not the best hitting team in the 2013 baseball season, didn’t make the playoffs. The teams that did all had good pitching.

The two playing in this year’s World Series— the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals— might have the most outstanding pitching.

The quintessential baseball adage holds that good pitching will invariably beat good hitting, which might explain the absence of our O’s from this year’s playoffs.

Make no mistake about it: no baseball team could out hit the Orioles in 2013. “Dem O’s” whacked the ball out of the park more than any other major league baseball team.

If the Orioles had won more of the games in which the bullpen didn’t completely fail them, they’d have made the playoffs.

If their starting pitchers had turned in an even adequate performance in those games that the Orioles scored enough runs to win, they’d have won the American League Championship series.

And if their pitching was anywhere as good as their hitting, they’d have won the World Series already. By forfeit, the Cardinals wouldn’t even bother to show up.

If the Orioles keep their hitters and get some decent pitching in 2014, they’ll make a shambles of the American League.

How about them Ravens?

As of this writing their record is 3-4. The only reason they can’t lose on Sunday, October 27, is that they don’t play that day.

On Sunday, November 3, they play a pretty darned good Cleveland Browns team they barely beat in Baltimore in Cleveland. The next Sunday they play an excellent Cincinnati Bengals team that is 5-2 and look much better than the Ravens have looked in 2013.

Does anyone other than me think the Ravens are staring down the possibility of an 8-8, or even a 7-9, season?

I’m as devoted as the next Ravens fan, but I’m also a realist. There is no way the Ravens could have lost the talent they had on the 2012 season and still be as good as in 2013.

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis has retired; perennially excellent free safety Ed Reed is now a Houston Texan; wide receiver Anquan Bolden— the one player, more than any other, for the Ravens winning Super Bowl XLVII— now catches passes for the San Francisco 49ers, who are looking a darned sight better than the Ravens these days.

There are four American Football Conference teams that, at this point, are clearly superior to the Ravens: the Bengals, the Denver Broncos, the Kansas City Chiefs (undefeated this season, a clear sign that the Apocalypse is upon us) and the Indianapolis-born-in-Baltimore Colts.

The Ravens have already lost to the Buffalo Bills, at best a middling team, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are having a losing season.

The outlook for the 2013 Ravens season is starting to look bleaker and bleaker.

And finally, a word of advice to our local TV weather forecasters— please shut up! Or, at the very least, shut up about the topic of rain or the perceived lack of it.

Every year these people call down a monsoon on us that lasts anywhere from two days to a week. How do they do this? By constantly moaning, whining and kvetching about a “shortage of precipitation.”

Now most of us, being normal Baltimoreans, don’t fret about the “shortage of precipitation.” We know we don’t live in the Sahara Desert, and that eventually it is going to rain.

Not so with local TV weather forecasters who, like most of their co-workers, simply aren’t from around here. (Most flagrant example: one newscaster actually said that the intersection of Lafayette Avenue and Mount Street was in southwest Baltimore. MAJOR faux pas.)

Maybe if the TV weather forecasters would ratchet down their “shortage of precipitation” talk, we can avoid these annual multi-day monsoons.

BGE, law firm team up to plant trees in Baltimore

— In support of environmental stewardship and in an effort to improve air quality and reduce carbon footprints throughout central Maryland, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) teamed up with law firm Hogan Lovells and the Baltimore Tree Trust to plant 25 trees on barren streets throughout McElderry Park in southeast Baltimore.

Recently, Baltimore Tree Trust was awarded a $10,000 grant through the BGE Green Grants program in support of its efforts, including the “Trees for Public Health” initiative. This initiative, which kicked off in 2012, has a goal of planting 800 trees by the end of 2013, through the support of volunteers from companies such as BGE and Hogan Lovells.

“BGE and its employees are committed to protecting the environment and improving the quality of life for our customers in the communities we serve throughout central Maryland,” said Calvin G. Butler Jr., senior vice president of regulatory and external affairs for BGE.

Since its’ founding nearly 200 years ago, BGE has played an integral role in working with Maryland communities to address economic development, public safety, civic issues and other initiatives that help enhance our neighborhoods. Through the use of shareholder dollars, BGE supports programs that deliver measurable and sustainable impact in areas of education, economic development, environment and arts and culture.

In addition, through BGE’s employee volunteer network, “Energy for the Community,” employees lend their time and passion to corporate citizenship activities. Last year, BGE employees, friends and family volunteered over 18,000 hours with more than 160 community organizations.

Good citizenship is one of Hogan Lovells’ core values. Through its Community Investment initiative, which includes a dedicated commitment to the environment, it is able to build long-standing relationships with local communities through sustainability and environmental projects.

Dyslexia: Setting the record straight for academic success

As I write this week’s column my son is on a plane back to New England College. His fall semester break went by so quickly I felt sad to see him leave. However, as I watched this young scholar stride confidently towards the airport terminal I knew he was ready to return to school and continue his studies.

This was a remarkable moment for me, one of many that illustrates an academic journey that was once headed down a path of failure and unfulfilled promise. Why? Because for years he hated going to school. It was an unpleasant experience, fraught with frustration from his inability to read.

From his earlier days, he was articulate and gifted with a high IQ. Yet, upon entering school he struggled to read, reversed his numbers and did poorly on spelling tests. His teachers told me he was smart, that he just needed to stay focused and pay attention to his work.

None of those recommendations worked. Each morning I had to practically drag him to school. He would come home angry when he was required to read aloud. Girls would tease him, calling him stupid and retarded as he struggled to sound out the simplest words.

His second grade teacher said she doubted he’d get pass the eighth grade with such poor reading skills. Students like him “usually get tired of school and drop out when they get to high school. The work just keeps getting harder” she told me.

By the start of the third grade he was acting up in class when taunted by classmates. Just as I prepared myself or another bad school year, his new teacher advised me to have him tested for dyslexia, a language processing learning disability. She said he had all the signs and symptoms, including trouble, learning letters, recognizing their sounds and difficulty memorizing number facts.

Once diagnosed, he began receiving tutoring specifically designed for dyslexic children. Eventually he developed compensating skills and learned to read at grade level. He graduated high school and is now a college sophomore. Meeting the challenges of dyslexia has graced him with tenacity and strength of character.

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. Most parents and teachers don’t realize that one in 10 people have symptoms of dyslexia, including slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling, poor writing or mixing up similar words?

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability, and contrary to some beliefs, it is not due to either lack of intelligence or a desire to learn. In fact, with appropriate teaching methods, dyslexics can and do learn successfully. The International Dyslexia Association (IDA), would like to set the record straight about dyslexia.

Dyslexia occurs in people of all backgrounds and intellectual levels. People who are very bright can be dyslexic. They are often capable or even gifted in areas that do not require strong language skills, such as art, computer science, design, drama, electronics, math, mechanics, music, physics, sales and sports.

Some of the warning signs associated with dyslexia include: difficulty learning to speak; difficulty reading quickly enough to comprehend; trouble persisting with and comprehending longer reading assignments; difficulty spelling; trouble learning a foreign language; difficulty correctly doing math operations; and difficulty organizing written and spoken language.

Parents who suspect that their child might be exhibiting signs of dyslexia or another language-based learning difference are encouraged to take action as soon as they suspect a problem. The earlier a child receives intervention, the sooner he or she can get on the path to successful learning.

What to do if your child is exhibiting signs of dyslexia:

•Contact your child’s teacher, head of school, guidance counselor or pediatrician and express your concerns.

•Request a formal evaluation of your child by a professional or request a referral for testing to confirm a diagnosis of dyslexia or another language-based learning difference.

•Visit the International Dyslexia Association’s website: for fact sheets and helpful resources for parents.

•Be an advocate for your child. If your child is diagnosed as being dyslexic, fight for proper accommodations in his or her current school or look into specialized schools or tutors.

•Keep a positive attitude. A diagnosis of dyslexia or another learning difference is not the end of the world. Children with dyslexia are bright, capable and able to go on to college and successful careers. If your child has dyslexia it simply means that he or she learns differently. Many top CEOs, scientists, artists and entrepreneurs are dyslexic.

Jayne Matthews Hopson writes about education matters because,“only the educated are free.”

Alzheimer’s Association presents African American memory loss forum

— The Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Maryland Chapter, will present the Ninth Annual Pythias A. and Virginia I. Jones African American Community Forum on Memory Loss, Saturday, November 2, 2013 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Coppin State University located at 2500 W. North Avenue in Baltimore.

Occurring during “National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month,” the event is named in honor of the parents of State Senator Verna L. Jones-Rodwell, Ernestine Jones Jolivet, Alvin A. Jones, Pythias D. Jones, MD and the late Gilda Jones Garrett, who were affected by dementia.

Approximately 300 policy makers, sorority members, business leaders, health professionals and family caregivers are expected to attend the Forum, which will inform the community about memory loss, support caregivers, share the promise of research and advise on ways to get involved to help conquer this disease.

Michael Dorsey, a Baltimore County native who lost 136 pounds on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” will discuss his health battle with obesity and motivate audience members to make healthy changes in their own lives.

Majid Fotuhi, MD, Ph.D. (founder and Chief Medical Officer, NeurExpand Brain Center) will give a keynote presentation entitled,” Boost Your Brain.” FunDrum Rhythm Circles will lead caregivers in a stress-relieving, healing drumming circle, and breakout sessions will address behavior changes, community resources and legal planning.

The Forum also will feature health screenings, including dental health from the Baltimore City Health Department and nutrition from Registered Dietitian and Licensed Nutritionist Rona Martiyan.

Coppin State will provide blood pressure screenings, as African-Americans have a higher rate of vascular disease (diseases involving blood vessels, including heart attack and stroke)— one of the suspected risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease.

Overall, more than 25,000 African-American Marylanders have Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder. Research suggests that the prevalence, incidence and cumulative risk of Alzheimer’s disease appear to be much higher in African-Americans.

Admission is free and includes continental breakfast and lunch. Registration is required to attend not later than Monday, October 28, 2013. To register or receive sponsorship information, call the Alzheimer’s Association at 410-561-9099 or visit:

All about the children, musicians and jazz

Hello everyone! I must say this will be an interesting weekend. First of all you have got just enough time to meet me at Owings Mills Sojourner-Douglass College, located 16711 Red Run Blvd, Suites 119-121 for an evening of jazz. You don’t even have to dress-up. It is called “Jazz ‘N’ Jeans Nite.” It is Friday, October 25 from 7-9:30 p.m. The event will feature the John Lamkin Jazz Quintet and yours truly doing a book signing with my new book “African-American Community, History & Entertainment in Maryland.” Light fare and wine will be available. For more information, call 410-581-1802.

Saxophonist Christian Robinson, youngest of five winners will use his scholarship funds to continue his lessons.

Courtesy Photo

Saxophonist Christian Robinson, youngest of five winners will use his scholarship funds to continue his lessons.

The veteran musicians and singers being honored this year at the Rosa Pryor Music Scholarship Fund 22nd Anniversary Award Banquet Gala, are Eartha Lamkin, Jim Hession, James Taylor, Richard Bass, Ron Pinder, Charles Davis, Lou Law, Al Townes, Phil Townes and Earlene Reed. The gala will be held on Sunday, October 27, at the Forum Caterers, 4210 Primrose Avenue from 4-8 p.m. I promise it will be a night to remember.

The John Lamkin Jazz Quintet will perform at the Owings Center Mills Sojourner Douglass located 10711 Red Run Blvd, Suites 119-121. Ticket includes wine & light fare.

Courtesy Photo

The John Lamkin Jazz Quintet will perform at the Owings Center Mills Sojourner Douglass located 10711 Red Run Blvd, Suites 119-121. Ticket includes wine & light fare.

The Arena Players, the oldest continuously performing African American theater in the country is in trouble. They are trying to celebrate their 60th season while struggling to pay an enormous water bill. The theater needs to raise a lot of money. Please support the Arena Players, Inc. to prevent foreclosure. Of all the close calls they have had in the past, this is the first to make it to court. Your assistance is needed now more than ever. If you can’t help now call the Arena at 410-951-3364 or 410-234-4512 to find out ways you can help. They’ve raised $14,000 so far, but still need $11,000 before the end of the month.

Baltimore’s own well-known vocalists, Tracey Curbeam and Da Fellas Band will be doing a jazz & R&B show on Saturday, October 26 at the Best Western Ballroom, 1800 Belmont Avenue. The door opens at 7 p.m., cash bar and open buffet is included. For ticket information, call 443-540-7797.

The Best Western Plus hotel & Conference Center located 5625 O’Donnell Street will host a “Jazz-Z Tuesday” 6-9 every Tuesday, just off the lobby in Tradewinds Restaurant. The will have an open-mic jam session with a different artist every week. Jazz musicians are welcome to sit-in. Featured musicians include Thomas Clay, Benjamin Brown, Delandria Mills, DJ Soul, Warren Wolf, Mark Meadows, Quincy Phillips, Todd Marcus, Kris Funn and Dana Hawkins. For more information, call 410-633-9500.

Well, my dear friends, I will see you somewhere, some place, but until then, if you need me call me at 410-833-9474 or email me at rosapryor@aol.come. Check out my new website: On that note, I’M MUSICALLY YOURS.