COMMENTARY: What the Dunn verdict says about us

“Jordan had no guns. He had no drugs. There was no alcohol. They were coming from the mall. They were being kids.” —Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis

Another mother’s anguish! Another unarmed black teenager in Florida shot dead for no good reason— another indefensible instance of “Stand Your Ground” rearing its ugly head. Eight months after the stunning acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, justice again has been compromised in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.


Marc Morial

On November 23, 2012, Michael Dunn, a 47-year-old white man, fired 10 rounds into a SUV after arguing over loud rap music coming from the vehicle with Jordan and three other unarmed African American teenagers.

Three of the bullets struck and killed Jordan Davis. Like George Zimmerman, Michael Dunn claimed self-defense and used Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law to bolster his justification of the killing, as his lawyer stated in his closing argument, “His honor will further tell you that if Michael Dunn was in a public place where he had a legal right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force.”

Dunn claims Jordan Davis brandished a gun so Dunn shot first. But there is one big problem with his story. Jordan Davis had no gun and neither did anyone else in the SUV.

Two weeks ago, a jury found Dunn guilty of three counts of attempted murder, one for each of Jordan’s three friends, and shooting into a vehicle. But they deadlocked on the fifth count— first-degree murder in the killing of Jordan. Dunn could get at least 60 years and may spend the rest of his life in prison for the four lesser counts.

However the failure to convict him of murdering Jordan Davis raises critical questions about the devaluing of the lives of young black males in America and confirms the need for a repeal of Florida’s repugnant Stand Your Ground law that sanctions the use of deadly force by anyone who merely thinks— or claims— they are in danger from a perceived assailant.

Regardless of whether Dunn or Zimmerman chose to fully exercise Stand Your Ground provisions in their defense, this law was very clearly at the center of both cases. It is even clearer that the “shoot first” laws across the country are contributing to needless bloodshed and are ripe for unequal application based on race.

A recent Urban Institute analysis found that in Stand Your Ground states, “When the shooter is white and the victim is black, the justifiable homicide rate is 34 percent. When the situation is reversed and the shooter is black and the victim is white, shootings are ruled to be justifiable in only slightly more than three percent of cases.”

Last September, the National Urban League, in collaboration with the bipartisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition and VoteVets, issued a report showing that in the 22 states with “Stand Your Ground” laws, the justifiable homicide rate has risen by an average of 53 percent in the five years following their passage. In Florida, justifiable homicides have increased by 200 percent since the law took effect in 2005.

These statistics and their underlying racial disparities, tell us that expansive self-defense laws such as Stand Your Ground are doing more harm than good, and when coupled with implicit racial bias and unfounded preconceptions, young black males are especially at risk. Dunn’s own bigoted words in letters from jail clearly show his disregard for their lives, as he wrote:

“The jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs. This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these (expletive) idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior;” and “The fear is that we may get a predominantly black jury and therefore, unlikely to get a favorable verdict. Sad, but that’s where this country is still at. The good news is that the surrounding counties are predominantly white and Republican and supporters of gun rights!”

This view and those like it are why we must commit today to action against the devaluing of our young black lives.

Even as the Michael Dunn trial was getting underway, we learned that Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, had planned to capitalize on the death of a young black male by participating in a “celebrity” boxing match— when his only claim to fame is killing an unarmed black teenager and getting off (The bout was later cancelled). Such a blatant disregard for the value of a black male’s life should be a wake-up call to all Americans. We must intensify our fight against Stand Your Ground laws— and the underlying mentality— that justify the killing of young black men whose only “offense” is being black.

Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League.

Baltimore County students win Maryland Masters Awards

Comptroller Peter Franchot presented his Maryland Masters Awards Monday, February 24, 2014 to three Baltimore County students: Haley White, a fifth grader at Glenmar Elementary School in Middle River, who did a self-portrait; Maria Karvounis, a seventh grader at Hereford Middle School in Monkton, who drew a still life using water color paints, oil pastels and charcoal; and Jasmine Gilliam, a senior at Randallstown High School, who did a colored pencil portrait drawing using India ink.

(Left to right) Dr. Dallas Dance, superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools; Maryland Master Award winners, Jasmine Gilliam, a senior at Randallstown High School; Haley White, a fifth grader at Glenmar Elementary School; Maria Karvounis, a seventh grader at Hereford Middle School; and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot at the award presentation ceremony on Monday, February 24, 2014 at Greenwood Mansion.

Courtesy Photo/Office of the Comptroller

(Left to right) Dr. Dallas Dance, superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools; Maryland Master Award winners, Jasmine Gilliam, a senior at Randallstown High School; Haley White, a fifth grader at Glenmar Elementary School; Maria Karvounis, a seventh grader at Hereford Middle School; and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot at the award presentation ceremony on Monday, February 24, 2014 at Greenwood Mansion.

The Maryland Master Award recognizes young, talented artists who have displayed extraordinary artistic skills, reflecting the vision of Maryland’s future. Comptroller Franchot initiated the awards program to celebrate the achievements and talents of students from throughout the state enrolled in public schools from kindergarten to the twelfth grade. The students’ art will be on exhibit for two months at the Comptroller’s Office in Annapolis. Selected by local superintendents, the students, their families and school officials were invited to join Comptroller Franchot and state and local officials for the official art exhibit unveiling ceremony and award presentation.

Randallstown High School senior Jasmine Gilliam said she is thrilled to be chosen for the award, “It means a lot. It is a tremendous honor, ” she said. “I was really surprised because there are a lot of really great artists in my school.”

During his nearly 30 years in public service, Comptroller Franchot consistently has advocated for better funding for arts programs and keeping art alive in Maryland schools.

“I emphasize that arts are important to business,” he noted. “The future of Maryland’s Economy will be impacted by individuals and companies that are able to balance creativity and technology; Employers are looking for individuals with the ability to create.”

The students’ art will join a collection of original paintings by one of the Comptroller’s favorite artists, Herman Maril. An American modernist, Maril was born in Baltimore and served as a professor at the University of Maryland for more than 30 years.

Heart expert offers top five heart healthy super foods

— When it comes to your heart, what you eat makes the world of a difference. One million Americans die of heart disease every year in the United States— that means two out of every five deaths, or one life every 33 seconds. Renowned cardiologist and founder of the Heart Health Foundation, Dr. John Martin, offers his top five heart healthy foods to make sure you don’t become another number.

  1. Fish— Dr. Martin says salmon is the most heart healthy food. People who eat five or more servings of fish per week had a 30 percent lower risk of heart failure. Fish is a good source of protein & omega-3 fatty acids. Dark oily fish are the best, including mackerel or bluefish. But if you don’t eat fish at all, any fish is better than no fish. Just don’t fry it or add heavy cream.
  2. Lean Meats— Protein is an essential building block for all skeletal tissues. It’s important to consume three servings per day from various sources, however, know and limit your fats (saturated and trans fats). Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat. The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than six ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, fish or seafood a day. The leanest beef cuts usually include sirloin, chuck, loin and round. Choose “choice” or “select” grades rather than “prime.” Select lean or extra lean ground meats.
  3. Whole Grains— Cholesterol, fiber and oat bran Fiber is classified as either soluble or insoluble. When regularly eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, soluble fiber has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol and may also help reduce the risk of diabetes and colon and rectal cancer. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat at least 25–30 grams of dietary fiber— in both soluble and insoluble forms— every day. The more calories you require to meet your daily needs, the more dietary fiber you need. Try to eat at least 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories you consume.
  4. Leafy Greens— These include spinach, kale, lettuce, and broccoli just to name a few. Dr. Martin says you cannot get enough of these valuable veggies. Leafy greens are full of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. They are rich in fiber, an important nutrient that can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. As a general rule, you should aim to eat at least five servings of daily (roughly 2 1/2 cups of cooked greens).
  5. Blueberries— Blueberries are one

of the most powerful disease-fighting foods. They have an abundance of plant chemicals called anthocyanin’s that can help maintain a healthy heart. Blueberries are a good source of fiber, are packed with vitamin C, and rank as one of the best sources of antioxidants. Dr. Martin suggests you eat a ½ cup of blueberries, three times a week. The best part is they can be found in most produce sections year around.

Dr. John D. Martin is the medical director of the Heart and Vascular Institute at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland. Under Dr. Martin’s leadership, the center has become a nationally recognized facility for the treatment of vascular disease. In 2000, Dr. Martin along with Louise Hanson, CRNP, founded the Heart Health Foundation ( and its Dare to CARE ( program.

COMMENTARY: Dr. King’s legacy and the 21st century

While attending a church service dedicated to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I was struck by the conflation of what the Civil Rights Movement fought against and what should be our modern-day priorities.


Hughey Newsome

In particular, the speaker at this church attempted to say the atrocities of the past remain alive today, only through a different name. Conservatives— those who fight for things such as less government intervention— are getting an unnecessary and undeserved bad rap.

There is no question the legacy and reputation of Dr. King is second-to-none. The Civil Rights Movement that secured the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and vanquished lingering vestiges of segregation and racism was wrapped in a message of equal opportunity and ensuring that all Americans are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

Ironically, the historic legislation was completed with the signature of liberal President Lyndon Johnson, who, while in Congress, killed civil rights legislation in 1956, watered down the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and voted against bills to ban lynching and eliminate the poll tax (he also later callously dropped the n-word while touting the perceived political payoff of Great Society handouts— and in many other instances).

Unfortunately, like at the church service I attended, there are too many attempts made to diminish and oversimplify the African-American community’s problems by seeking to find the same overt racism now that my grandparents and great-grandparents faced back in the day.

While this may generate hype, it detracts from what I consider to be the civil rights issues of the 21st century.

To be clear, explicit racism still exists today, just as traditional bigotry has not completely died. But it does society no good to dismissively blame African-Americans’ problems on forces, which are largely ostracized today.

Attempts to categorize all arguments against Big Government approaches as extensions of this bigotry, for example, takes away from constructive debate about how society can address challenges facing African-Americans.

What are the civil rights issues of the 21st century? Better yet, what current barriers do African-Americans face regarding equal opportunity and disparities in health, wealth and, most important, education (the principal driver of the other disparities)?

Having to pay overtime to police officers in Chicago to escort schoolchildren across gang territories is a 21st century civil rights issue. Paying those cops extra requires resources that could be used to buy computers and textbooks (in lieu of raising taxes or more borrowing) and is, sadly, a self-imposed disparity.

Approximately 70 percent of children being born into single-parent households is another 21st century civil rights issue. Note that when children are born into such households, their chances of imprisonment, government dependence and poverty also appear to increase.

Finding a way for African-American children to enjoy the benefits of improved education quality and not having to disproportionately attend so-called “dropout factories” is also a 21st century civil rights issue. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s school choice program saving thousands of minorities, mostly African-American kids, from failing schools should be a

diversity success story. Yet the tragedy of how the federal government wants to block it is mostly untold.

The disproportionate rate of African-American pregnancies ending in abortion— at a ratio of almost three-to-one compared to white pregnancies, according to the CDC— is a 21st century civil rights issue. Regardless of whether someone is pro-choice or pro-life, the stark discrepancies in abortion rates in poor African-American communities should cause anyone concerned with civil rights to take pause. But far too little attention is paid to this dramatic statistic.

Next year, and in years to come, when I attend church services dedicated to Dr. King and his legacy I want to hear more about self-empowerment and addressing 21st century civil rights issues. I don’t want rants about straw man racists.

Unfortunately, such a message is not politically expedient. So my expectations are tinged with skepticism.

Hughey Newsome, a business consultant in the D.C. area, is a member of the national advisory council of the black leadership network Project 21. Comments may be sent to

Black History Month ends with a bang!

Hello everyone, how are you? Well, I hope. Well, this has been a hell-la-va month. I tell you my friends, between the ice storm, the snow and the cold, it has not been easy to go out and have fun in the clubs and other venues. Most of us have “house-O-phobia.” Hopefully, it is all over and we’ll see nothing but sunshine from this day forward.


Celebration of Black History Month featuring The Carl Grubbs Ensemble with special guest John Blake Jr., at the Randallstown Community Center, located at 3505 Resource Dr., Randallstown, Maryland on Friday, February 28, from 6-8 p.m.

Well, ending this Black History Month in the local entertainment world is the Carl Grubbs Ensemble with special guest John Blake Jr., presented by Contemporary Arts Inc. If you enjoy good jazz live on stage, then this is where you should be. The Carl Grubbs Ensemble features internationally renowned saxophonist Carl Grubbs, Eric Byrd on piano, Blake Meister on bass, John Lamkin, III on drums and jazz violinist extraordinaire, John Blake, Jr. This event will be held at the Randallstown Community Center, located at 3505 Resource Dr. in Randallstown on Friday, February 28, from 6-8 p.m. The concert is FREE, but you must reserve your free tickets online at For more information, call Barbara Grubbs at 410-944-2909.


Greg Hatza Organization with vocalist Dred Scott will open the season for Jazz Expressways Foundation Jazz Breakfast on March 8, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their new home the Forest Park Senior Center, 4801 Liberty Heights Avenue. It is cabaret style BYOB, but dinner is included with ticket. For more information, contact Howard Easley at 410-323-7295.

Mark your calendars for upcoming events. Live music at the world famous Lexington Market is off the hook! They have double the fun and entertainment by having the best of the best groups and singers every Friday and Saturday from 12 noon until 2 p.m. thanks to Marketing & Promotional Manager, Darlene Hudson. Honey child, it is awesome! On Saturday, March 1, the group Part Harmony, an R&B acapppella group will perform. On Friday, March 7 my dear friend ‘Swamp Dog’ will be singing some good ole blues.

You are all invited to Maceo’s Lounge on Monroe Street to see my group, “Signature Live!” on Thursday, March 6, from 6-10 p.m. I promise you, you won’t be sorry.

“Jazz Expressways Foundation Jazz Breakfast” is back! They are having their “Jazz Breakfast” on Saturday, March 8 at the Forest Park Senior Center, 4801 Liberty Heights Avenue from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. featuring my favorite organists, The Greg Hatza ORGANization. Breakfast is served until 12 p.m. The affair is BYOB, so whatever you drink; beer, water, wine, cocktails, bring it with you. For ticket information, call Howard Easley at 410-323-7295. I will see you there!

I am out of space, so just remember if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me at UNTIL THE NEXT TIME, I’M MUSICALLY YOURS.

Indie Soul: Talkin’ all that jazz

In this week’s Indie Soul we are “talkin’ all that jazz.” Get ready to find out what’s happening in the community and yes we are talking about jazz music!

Marshall C. Bell’s book “Baltimore Blues: Harm City” deals with life on the streets and how to change life for the better.

“I took a different path when writing this book,” he said. “I wanted to reach back and hopefully reach those who are going through some rough spots in their lives to help them see that there is something else out there and it is positive,” said Bell.

Marshall C. Bell will be part of the book club “Books, Wine and Conversation” on Saturday, March 1, 2014 from noon to 2 p.m. at The Baltimore Times, located at 2513 N. Charles Street in North Baltimore. The event is FREE and open to the public. For more information on the book club call 410-501-0193.

Jazz@the Grand: Baltimore has been starving for LIVE Jazz shows and the Bonneau Caprece Jazz Series presented a show for all ages on Sunday, February 23, 2014 with an incredible performance from “The Four Saxophonists:” Craig Alston, Tim Green, Mark Gross, and Ron Pender. These soon-to-be legends in the game, took the audience on a incredible ride with standards, blues and classic jazz pieces. In honor of the old time jazz showcases in Baltimore, the show was held in the afternoon— great for a family outing or a Sunday afternoon. Don’t worry, you can catch another show on Sunday April 27, 2014. For more information call 443-695-9384.


Hip hop artist OurReality

OurReality-TGDOM: Underground Hip-Hop artist OurReality, takes you on a mental journey with a sound that brings back the elements of hip-hop— beatboxing, deejay scratches, and most importantly lyricism.

“I wanted to let people know that there is real rap music out there especially for 35-year-olds and up, that deals with real life issues, struggles, and at the same time, has feel good music,” said M. Childs, artist and executive producer.

If you are a fan of George Clinton and Funkadelic who made music for the mind, this is what OurReality has done with their brand of mental music. They want you to get your mind right!

For more information about OurReality, or to listen to a sample of his music or to purchase a CD/Download, visit:

Baltimore entrepreneur a real history maker

Jayfus Doswell is a history maker. In 2013, the Baltimore-born entrepreneur was featured on the HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African American video oral history collection that has preserved the life stories of thousands of historic black figures, including President Barack Obama.

Doswell, who holds a Ph.D. from George Mason University, is the founder of Juxtopia, LLC and the Juxtopia Group, Inc., which specialize in human performance monitoring products and services.

Doswell comes from a family of entrepreneurs and says he has always been mystified and a little angry about the educational plight of minorities who are not always provided appropriate lessons in science, technology, engineering and math— fields that are commonly known as STEM.

The lack of qualified American STEM professionals in the workplace inspired him to use his Juxtopia Group to create change.

“We want to increase STEM proficiency in the workplace and in entrepreneurship for the underserved and the disadvantaged around the world,” said Doswell.

“It was expected that I’d be an entrepreneur. My mom was in education and my dad was in social work,” Doswell said. “I was pretty much programmed to make a change early on and I was given education early on, so given the faculties and early exposure and experience, I must give all the credit to my success to my parents.”

“My main motivation when I began mentoring came from an experience I had when I was rising up the corporate ladder,” said Doswell, who also was named among the “stars who make things happen in Greater Baltimore” by the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore. “I remember working at a company called CompuServe in Columbus, Ohio; and I remember realizing that there was a complete disparity in my industry.”

“The opportunity was there, but I didn’t see many other African Americans in my department so, not understanding the proper protocol, I sent an email to the president of CompuServe and my supervisor pulled me aside and said that wasn’t the way to go, it wasn’t protocol.”

Doswell says he still managed to secure a meeting with the company’s president but realized that he needed to create his own program for engineering and entrepreneur “superstars.”

Born in Charm City in 1979, Doswell spent his childhood learning various life lessons. He learned and played classical piano and the violin as a member of the Baltimore Youth Orchestra.

He graduated from Oberlin College in 1995 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in psychology and computer science. He presented his thesis at Williams College in Massachusetts and went on to earn a masters degree in systems and computer management from Howard University in 1998.

It was while completing his Ph.D. in information technology that Doswell

developed the idea for his Juxtopia companies, which has helped hundreds of young African-American entrepreneurs through the company’s Juxtopia Entrepreneur in Training (JET).

The company’s ambitious strategic plan is to develop young JET entrepreneurs who can build their own companies that each generate $1 billion in gross revenue.

“We want to have at least 1000 of our young entrepreneurs up and running simultaneously to secure a $1 trillion empire and that’s the strategic plan of our JUICE program,” Doswell said about his Juxtopia Urban Innovation and Cooperative Entrepreneurship— or JUICE— program.

Doswell’s successful strategies have garnered attention from various organizations and he has been a consultant for Lockheed Martin; Virtual Logic; TRW and the National Cancer Institute Center for Bioinformatics; CompuServe; the Maryland Medical Systems; and others.

“We’ve done a lot to get students motivated in high-tech areas, particularly in the STEM field,” Doswell said. “I enjoy training students and employ them to work on our products and be a part of our programs.”

The Baltimore Times presents: The Eighth Annual Women’s History Month Literary Festival

The Sleeping Dictionary

In The Sleeping Dictionary (Gallery Books; On-sale: August 20, 2013; Paperback Original; $16.00), award-winning author Sujata Massey paints a stunning portrait of late Raj India. Set against a background of huge political and cultural upheaval, the book is both a sweeping epic and a passionate love story.

When a tidal wave wipes out a tiny village on Bengal’s southwest coast, a young girl known as Pom is set adrift in the world.

Set between 1925 and the end of World War II, the book follows Pom (later known successively as Sarah, Pamela, and – ultimately- Kamala) on her varied and intriguing post-storm journey.

After being found near death by a charitable British headmistress and her chauffeur, Pom is renamed Sarah and becomes a servant at the Lockwood School for British and upper-caste Indian girls. It is while working at the school that she discovers her gift for languages. When circumstances require her to leave the school, she moves to the larger town of Kharagpur where she inadvertently falls into a secret, decadent world. Eventually, she lands in Calcutta, renames herself Kamala, and creates a new life rich in books and friends.

Although success and passionate romance are within reach, she remains trapped by what she is…and is not. As India struggles the throw off imperial rule, Kamala uses her hard-won skills— for secrecy, languages, and reading the unspoken gestures of those around her— to fight for her country’s freedom and her own happiness.

In “The Sleeping Dictionary,” Massey – who USA Today has called a “gifted storyteller – presents a magnificent saga of the last days of Raj India… and a woman who dares to assault the barriers of race and caste. Misty Copeland in her beautifully written memoir

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina

Misty Copeland is the first African-American soloist in the last two decades at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. Her new memoir, LIFE IN MOTION: An Unlikely Ballerina (Touchstone Hardcover / Simon & Schuster; March 4, 2014; $24.99; ISBN: 9781476737980), written with award-winning journalist Charisse Jones, shares Copeland’s inspiring journey to become a world-class ballerina, illuminating the fascinating world of professional ballet.

Copeland paints a vivid picture of her nomadic, at times painful, past. As one of six siblings in San Pedro, California, her love of movement began with listening to Mariah Carey and New Edition, and mimicking gymnast Nadia Comaneci’s floor routines in her mother’s bedroom. Her drill team coach introduced her to Cyhthia Bradley, a dance teacher at the Boys and Girls Club where Misty and her brothers and sisters routinely spent their afternoons. Bradley nurtured 13-year old Misty’s love of dance and taught her the basics of ballet – pirouettes, plies, and jetes. Shockingly, Misty performed them with the ease of a girl who’d been training for years. She was dancing en pointe in just months, and soon moved in with the Bradley family to focus on ballet. Misty Copeland was a prodigy.

“Life in Motion” is a multilayered memoir that transcends the boundaries of the traditional ballet biography – it’s not just a ballerina’s story, but instead a unique American story of perseverance and achievements in the face of adversity by an author who is truly one of a kind.

‘Til the Well Runs Dry

In ‘”Til the Well Runs Dry” we meet Marcia Garcia, a gifted and smart-mouthed sixteen-year-old seamstress who lives alone with two small boys in a seaside village in 1943 Trinidad – and she’s guarding a family secret. When she meets Farouk Karman, an ambitious young policeman (so taken with Marcia that he elicits help from a tea-brewing obeah woman to guarantee her affections), the rewards and risks in Marcia’s life being to multiply.

Starting on an island rich with laughter, calypso, Carnival, cricket, beaches and salty air, sweet fruits and spicy stews, “‘Til the Well Runs Dry” sees Marcia and Farouk from their sassy and passionate courtship through personal and historical events that threaten Marcia’s secret, entangle the couple and their children in scandal, and put the future in doubt for all of them.

With this deeply human, page-turning debut, Lauren Francis-Sharma shows a spirited woman’s adore for one man and her bottomless devotion to her children. For readers who cherish the previously untold stories of women’s lives, here is the story of grit and imperfection and love that has not been told before.

Maui Wowi celebrates grand opening with free smoothies

Already a community hotspot for local Towson residents, Maui Wowi Hawaiian, located at 1220 E. Joppa Road, is hosting a grand opening celebration and serving complimentary smoothies for all who attend on Saturday, March 1, 2014.

Between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on this special day, guests who visit Maui Wowi in Towson can enter for a chance to surf away with free smoothies for a year. The winner will receive one free tiki size smoothie a week for a whole calendar year. Also available during the two-hour period, customers can enjoy complimentary Strawberry or Mango Orange Smoothies and Blended Frozen Cappuccinos. There will also be fun activities for the whole family to enjoy, including tropical-themed face painting, a ring toss game for a chance to win free Maui Wowi T-shirts, mugs and tumblers, and more.

“The community has already embraced us,” says Mike Pyne. “This grand opening event is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to our fans, while also welcoming new guests into our store. We can’t wait to have some fun with all of the exciting activities and freebies we have planned!”

For more information, visit: Follow them on Facebook at

Baltimore educator is living history

— Ruth Pratt will often hop into her old Cadillac, take a drive around town and meditate on the many historic moments she has either taken part in or witnessed. Even at the tender age of 92, Pratt is still looking forward and figuring out ways she can as she says, “shake things up.”

“My mother always said don’t settle, go all the way to the top,” said Pratt, who lives independently in spite of her advanced years.

Pratt only recently retired as principal of the Carter G. Woodson Elementary School after she turned 89.

“If you take care of yourself, truly take care of yourself, God will do the rest,” said Pratt, a visionary and living African American icon, who started her career as an elementary school teacher and later became the first black principal at Dickey Hill Elementary School.

She says her parents proved to be great motivators. “When my mother and father were growing up in South Carolina, blacks weren’t allowed to go to the eighth grade. And, in my father’s case, he came from Virginia in the 1880s and he didn’t even know how to write his own name,” Pratt said.

However, despite their limitations, Pratt’s parents knew the value of education and she had no choice except to earn good grades. Pratt recalled when schools were first integrated in the 1950s. She taught at Thomas G. Hayes Elementary School, known then as School #119.

“Schools that were numbered 100 to 199, you knew were black and those less than 100 or more than 200, were white,” she said. “After integration, they began to recruit black teachers to go over to white schools just to test the waters. Black teachers were offered $500 to move but some of us didn’t want to do that.”

The reluctance came because black students would suffer, she said.

“Vacancies left by black teachers were filled with white people, not white teachers,” Pratt said. “I remember one white lady said she took the job only because she had an empty nest. In my opinion, that was the beginning of the downfall of education for blacks.”

Pratt often encouraged students to strive for greatness and to never rest upon their laurels or let rejection stop the pursuit of goals. “I remember when blacks couldn’t go to Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, or Towson,” Pratt said. “Well, I decided to test the waters and I applied to the University of Maryland, of course long after integration. Now, I knew that they couldn’t say no because of my skin color, so they’d have to find another reason,” she said.

“I got a letter of rejection and then I wrote back to them to ask where I could improve in order to have a chance at being accepted and they wrote back accepting me, saying that I’d be on probation and had to maintain a 3.3 grade point average. Well, in 1985, I graduated with a 3.678 grade point average.”

Pratt had already achieved a Bachelor of Science degree from Coppin State Teachers College in Baltimore four years after she graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in 1939. She later earned a Master of Arts degree from Howard University in 1948 and her career spanned seven decades.

Pratt recently taught at Coppin State University where she earned inclusion in the Cambridge Who’s Who Registry, a rare honor for educators. She also served as the chief educational officer to the superintendent of the Baltimore City Public School System, associate professor at Morgan State University, and an instructor at Catonsville Community College where she taught disabled adults.

After her retirement three years ago, Pratt, a longtime member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and 2013’s “Delta Sweetheart of the Year,” remains busy. Pratt sits on various boards and committees, including the Board of Governors at the University of Maryland.

“There’s always a lot to do and I try and get it done,” said Pratt, who holds numerous awards and distinctions, ncluding the Thurgood Marshall Legacy Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She is also a member of the Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.

“Education is different today, the parents must get involved and they must support the teachers who are working hard despite being underpaid,” Pratt said. “You have to remember too, that the home is a child’s first school and the parents are the first teachers.

“We, as black people, have to change our values. We can’t look at things as problems, we must look at them as challenges and we can’t be so negative, which is why and how I’ve gotten to be 92-years-old and still am able to do so much.”