Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center hosts the 7th Annual Ladies, Hats and Tea

— On Saturday, March 29, 2014, The Northern Arundel Cultural Preservation Society and Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center presented the 7th Annual Ladies, Hats and Tea. The event was held at The Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center located at 1101 Smithville Street in Annapolis.

The Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center was the only African American high school in Anne Arundel County from 1933-1966. Students commuted from all over Anne Arundel County in order to obtain a high school education. The high school is named in honor of Wiley H. Bates, the fourth black man to hold elected office in Annapolis. Bates provided the funding to purchase the land so that the school could be built.

March was Women’s History month. The Ladies, Hats and Tea honored noteworthy women. It featured live vocal performances, awards, door prizes, local vendors and spoken words of dynamic women such as Alma Cropper who sang “Lead me, Guide Me” a song by Doris Akers, who was honored in 1922 by The Smithsonian Institution as “The Foremost Black Gospel Songwriter in The United States.” In 2011, Akers was inducted into The Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

Currently The Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center, also known as The Legacy Center, serves as a boys and girls club, a residential center for the elderly and a museum.

The Wiley H. Bates Scholarship fund provides scholarships to students with a GPA of 2.5. – 3.0 for a college education.

On April 16, 2014, The Legacy Center will host a free reception with light hors d’oeuvres and quilt exhibit entitled “Legacy: Our Collective Stories & Strength” from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Please call to reserve your seat no later than April 10, 2014.

The Legacy Center is a wonderful place to host your own event. It is available for site rental and group tours. For more information, call 410-263-1860 or email: Wileyhbates11@verizon.net

Indie Soul: Looking Back and Dwayne “Big Shorty” Morris

— In this week’s Indie Soul, we will be “Looking Back” with author Tyreen King-Maddox and comedian Dwayne “Big Shorty” Morris.

“Looking Back” is a true-life story as told by the author Tyreen King-Maddox. “I was not sure where I was going when I set out to write this book, but I felt the need to share because somewhere out there, is someone who is going through the same thing,” said King-Maddox.


(Courtesy Photo)

Tyreen King-Maddox and her husband at a book signing.

“Looking Back,” is like reading someone’s diary to see what they have been up to. King-Maddox has done an exceptional job of keeping it very real by sharing dark secrets that aren’t discussed in the black community including abortion and substance abuse.

According to King-Maddox, “It wasn’t easy to share, but it was a way for me to heal, to try learn why I made the mistakes I made, and to try to correct them so as not to do the same with my boys.”

Trust, you will see things a lot differently after reading this book. To think this is just part one. For your copy or more information: http://lookingback2014.wordpress.com/.

Comedian Dwayne “Big Shorty” Morris knows what it’s like to turn your life around. “Man, growing up I made some dumb decisions. I wanted to be in those streets instead of hitting them books. Selling drugs, partying and not caring until they locked me up at 12-years of age. Here I am institutionalized at 17 with no high school diploma. It was at that time, I said I gotta stop this mess,” says Morris.

He has done exactly that by turning his life around and sharing with others so they don’t make the same mistakes.

Comedy was a way out for him. The former class clown has parlayed his talent into a nice gig throughout the DMV area. He is host of the bi-monthly comedy showcase at the Arena Players (May 10th is the next showcase). In addition to the comedy, he is also a childcare provider who is being honored on April 30 for the “2014 Celebrating Success Children’s Award.”

I just want God to use me as he sees fit. I want to be that role model to show that you can mess up and bounce back.” Congratulations “Big Shorty!”

For more information about Dwayne “Big Shorty” Morris, visit: https://www.facebook.com/bigshortyon .

Letter to the editor


Re: Affordable Care Act (ACA)

I am amazed that some have worked so hard to deprive people of health care.

The ACA is an opportunity for some of the poorest in our nation to improve the health of their family. The act covers emergency services, hospitalization, pre-existing conditions, prescription drugs and a host of other health care issues. A complete list can be found on the ACA website (HealthCare.gov).

As a person who grew up without any health coverage, I am very happy to support the ACA effort to bring health care to the most vulnerable in our society.

Elie V. Parker

San Leandro, CA

Local student wins prestigious art prize

Lisa Su calls what the future holds for her, a mystery.

However, the 18-year-old Towson honors student has left some of the most intelligent individuals in academia without any doubt about how bright her future can be.

The senior at the Carver Center for Arts and Technology is one of 16 students to receive the prestigious Portfolio Gold Medal Scholarship and Writing Awards from the Alliance for Young Artists.

An example of Lisa Su's artwork

(Courtesy Photo)

An example of Lisa Su’s artwork

“It’s exciting,” said Su, who not only claimed a gold medal for her art portfolio which she titled, “New Life,” but the energetic artist also earned two silver medals for her sculpture work.

Since 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have been the country’s longest-running and most prestigious educational initiative supporting student achievement in the visual and literary arts.

Students in grades seven to 12 from public, private and home schools throughout the country, as well as American-run schools abroad are eligible to participate, officials said.

“The art world is very competitive,” said Su, who will be recognized onstage at an awards ceremony at New York’s famed Carnegie Hall in June.

Her art will also be featured as part of a special exhibit at the Parsons New School for Design and the Pratt Manhattan Gallery in New York.

“In making my portfolio, I didn’t think about the competition, but the award and the ceremony, which I’m definitely looking forward to, is very nice,” Su said.

In addition to the medals, Su will receive a $10,000 scholarship for her efforts.

“The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards serve as clear validation of young artists’ and writers’ creative talent, persistence and promise in their respective fields,” Virginia McEnerney, executive director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and the administrator of the Scholastic Awards, said in a news release. “It is our honor to share in these defining moments of achievement for our nation’s teens and to elevate their unbelievable talent on the local, regional and national levels. We see it as a privilege to support them on their journey to becoming artists, writers, designers, doctors, business owners or any aspiration they are determined to realize.”

This program year more than 255,000 works of art and writing were submitted to the more than 100 affiliates of the Alliance for regional adjudication.

Leading up to the awards announcement, students who received regional gold and silver keys, as well as honorable mentions, have been celebrated in all corners of the country, according to the release.

More than 100,000 regional award recipients’ families and friends gathered at local exhibitions, ceremonies and readings nationwide to recognize student works spanning the Scholastic Awards’ 28 categories, which include flash fiction, comic art, poetry, jewelry, science fiction and fantasy, sculpture, novel writing, video game design and a special category called “future new.”

Although Su says she is considering attending several liberal arts schools for college, including Carnegie Mellon and Washington University, she is not quite sure what she will pursue for a career once she graduates.

“It’s a mystery,” she said, noting that she remains a huge fan of artists such as Andy Warhol and Zac Posen. “We will have to wait and see.”

For now, though, she is looking forward to the awards ceremony in New York on June 5 and 6, 2014 where the famous Empire State Building will be lit in gold to honor the winners.

“I know that I’ve always enjoyed creating art,” Su said. “As soon as I was able to hold a pencil, I loved art and I’ve learned so much at Carver and I’m just excited right now.”

Maryland author eases the pain of loss

— Maryland author Heather Stang debuts her first book, “Mindfulness & Grief,” which helps people navigate the pain of bereavement. The acclaimed grief expert guides the reader through the transition of loss through an eight-week program incorporating meditation, yoga, journaling and creative expression.

“Mindfulness is a process that reduces physical, emotional and spiritual suffering as we grieve,” says Stang. “Loss is something that we don’t like to talk about, but it’s something we all deal with, and its repercussions reveal themselves in many ways. Being mindful helps us reduce stress and properly deal with grief.”

Equally appropriate to those struggling after loss of a loved one or a painful life transition, the book helps readers recognize the physical and emotional symptoms of stress and grief, and forges a path to wellness.

Stang, a certified Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner, meditation instructor and bereavement group facilitator, received her M.A. in thanatology, the study of death, dying and bereavement, from Hood College. She dedicates her life to the study of grief and eases the pain of those left behind.

Adaptable to all spiritual beliefs and fitness levels, each chapter Mindfulness & Grief introduces weekly themes to calm the mind, strengthen the body and regulate emotions.

“The mind-body connection is incredibly powerful in the grieving process,” says Stang. “Simple strategies can strengthen our immune health and self-awareness as we heal.”

Mindfulness & Grief is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and CICO Books. For more information about Mindfulness & Grief, visit: www. mindfulnessandgrief.com.

Maryland taxpayers warned of email phishing scam

— Comptroller Peter Franchot alerted taxpayers about a new phishing scam aimed at garnering personal information from taxpayers.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials are reporting incidents of taxpayers receiving emails allegedly from the agency’s Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). The email using the TAS logo contains a bogus case number and states: “Your reported 2013 income is flagged for review due to a document processing error. Your case has been forwarded to the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance. To avoid delays processing your 2013 filing contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance.”

The email contains a link for the recipient to find contact information for the “advocate” assigned to the case. It asks for personal information such as the recipient’s legal name and contact information and has a link to review reported income.

The IRS advises taxpayers who may get this message to NOT click on the link and to forward the email to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. Taxpayers also may find instructions for forwarding the message on its website at IRS.gov.

“I urge all taxpayers who have received suspicious emails to forward them immediately to the IRS,” Comptroller Franchot said. ”Do not click on any links or reply to the message. The IRS and the Comptroller’s Office do not contact taxpayers in this fashion, and we do not ask people to confirm their reported income online. Please be careful of your personal information, and be sure to tell your friends and neighbors to be careful of any suspicious-looking messages that ask for personal information.”

Negro Leagues Museum opens in Baltimore County

— “Opening Day” came a few days early at the Hubert V. Simmons Museum of Negro Leagues Baseball in Baltimore County.

Audrey Simmons, executive director of the museum and widow of Hubert “Bert” Simmons, spoke at the opening day ceremony on March 27, 2014 in Owings Mills. “I’m tremendously happy,” she said. “I only wish that the great Hubert V. Simmons could be here. But I know, they keep telling me, he’s smiling down on all of this.”

The grand opening is the result of the tenacity and years of hard work of both Simmons and Rayner “Ray” Banks, a baseball enthusiast and curator of the museum.

Previously operating under the name Negro Leagues Baseball Museum of Maryland, Inc., it had been housed in various temporary locations, including a church basement since 1996, until Baltimore County offered to give it a permanent home in the new library.

The new facility houses artifacts, photos and memorabilia from the Negro Leagues and is a tribute to Hubert “Bert” Simmons, a Northwest High School graduate who played for four different teams in the Negro Leagues, including the Baltimore Elite Giants in 1950.

Housed on three floors of a new $30 million building, the museum boasts exhibits featuring Leon Day, a Baltimore Elite Giants player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York and Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, one of only three women who played in the Negro Leagues.

Five years after his death in 2009, Bert Simmons’ vision of sharing an important part of American history became a reality.

Following his baseball career, Simmons taught in Baltimore City schools for 30 years and coached little league, high school and college baseball for more than 40 years. His wife Audrey said it was always his dream to create a museum to honor the players of the Negro Leagues.

“Bert loved the game, but we must not forget his devotion to education and the well- being of kids in school, “ she noted. “How well I remember his constant efforts to assure that the youngsters who were entrusted to his care learned to appreciate the history of those who struggled to bring equality into the lives of African Americans who had for so many years been denied the liberties that had been promised by our constitution.”

Baltimore County Community College student and baseball player DeSean Rabb, spoke at the opening of the museum and understands the significance of the moment. “For me the Negro Leagues were more than just about baseball,” he said. “In their quest to integrate the major leagues they were also desegregating America game by game. “

The Hubert V. Simmons Museum of Negro Leagues Baseball is located in the Owings Mills Library at 10302 Grand Central Avenue, Owings Mills, Maryland 21117.

Ravens’ Lardarius Webb reads to city students

— On Friday, March 28, 2014, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb joined 45 United Way of Central Maryland (UWCM) volunteers to read to elementary-aged children as part of National Reading Month, aiming to promote the importance of early-grade reading.

Volunteers, including Lardarius Webb, read Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat,” completed a reading comprehension activity and made the signature red and white Cat in the Hat hats with students. Webb joined volunteers from BGE and other organizations at Callaway Elementary School. United Way volunteers also conducted Dr. Seuss themed reading activities at Carroll Child Care Centers in Westminster on March 24, and partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bel Air on March 6 to have a Dr. Seuss party.

Research shows that 57 percent of third graders in Maryland cannot read at grade level. Poor readers in fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school, which increases one’s chances of having a child while still a teenager and becoming impoverished or incarcerated. In late 2012, UWCM launched a local program, READ LEARN SUCCEED, aimed at helping children achieve grade-level reading by fourth grade. Currently there are 23 READ LEARN SUCCEED volunteer sites located across central Maryland.

“I always tell kids that school is the platform to be whatever you want in life – whether it’s a professional athlete, business person or any profession. It’s key that we inspire kids early with a love of reading so that they don’t fall behind in school,” said Lardarius Webb.

Earlier this year, Webb was appointed as the Baltimore Ravens representative on “Team NFL,” a national collaboration between United Way and the NFL to decrease the high school dropout rate. Through this partnership, Webb is recruiting volunteer readers, tutors and mentors for “Team Webb.” Interested volunteers can sign up at www.unitedway.org/teamwebb. Volunteers from central Maryland who sign up with Team Webb will be matched with a weekly volunteer opportunity convenient to them.

“As Dr. Seuss said, ‘Oh the things you can find if you don’t stay behind!’ Cultivating an early love for reading is critical in ensuring that children don’t fall behind in school. We’re grateful for Lardarius Webb and all of the volunteers this month who are helping change the odds for students from low-income families by showing them that reading and learning can be fun,” commented Mark Furst, president and CEO of UWCM.

In central Maryland, National Reading Month volunteer activities are being spearheaded by a partnership between United Way of Central Maryland, the Weinberg Foundation’s Library Project and the Mayor’s Reading Club.

United Way of Central Maryland is working to change the odds for families and communities through programs focused on education, financial stability and health. For more information about United Way of Central Maryland, please visit www.uwcm.org.

School to prison pipeline: Black students targeted for cages not careers

“American slavery belongs to the blackest pages of mankind’s criminal record” —Arthur Schopenhauer, 19th century German philosopher

Michelle Alexander is the author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” Alexander, an associate professor of law at Ohio State University and Rebekah Skelton, an education and social justice blogger had a question and answer session examining the country’s systematic effort to psychologically prepare black students for cages rather than careers.

This is not the first time I’ve heard social engineers discuss the school to prison pipeline. Often it is a superficial response to a public outcry against building and using taxpayer dollars to finance building a new jail. However, Alexander frames the issue in a compelling, straightforward historical, social and economic context that is impossible for even the staunchest skeptics to ignore.

Rebekah Skelton: In your own words, describe the school-to-prison pipeline.

Michelle Alexander: The school-to-prison pipeline is part of a larger caste-like system where children are shuttled from their typically decrepit and under-funded schools to brand new, high-tech prisons. At very young ages children are given the message that not much is expected of them and that they are likely one way or another to wind up in prison.

Our schools are still largely separate and unequal, and what’s different about this era than in times past is not just the inferior quality of education that is provided to young people, but the criminalization of young people in many schools across America. The types of minor infractions that would give you a trip to the principal’s office once upon a time now can result in handcuffs and a trip to the county jail. Incidents involving even just disrespect to a teacher or a fistfight in the schoolyard can result in a criminal record for young people. If they’re very young, they may find themselves in juvenile hall, facing a judge, but increasingly young people are treated as adults at early ages— sometimes as young as 13, 14, 15 years old— and wind up facing adult criminal sanctions for the type of behavior that once involved teachers and principals and family members coming together to solve problems, as opposed to trying to dispose of children at young ages.

So really, the school-to-prison pipeline, in my view, reflects the system that’s been created to dispose of our children rather than educate them, counsel them and empower them to do well not only academically, but to imagine a future for themselves that does not include a cage and a lock and key.

RS: Do you think this is a means of social control?

MA: What’s important for us to acknowledge and really reckon with is that this system that shuttles kids from poor schools to brand new, fancy, high-tech prisons did not happen accidentally. It was created. It is a reflection of deliberate policy choices that have been made to invest in prisons and incarceration rather than in education. And we now see the results of those choices. And the result is poor kids, particularly poor kids of color, growing up in a system that is designed for them to fail.

While they’re not given meaningful educational opportunities and they’re targeted by police for routine stops and frisks and searches — treated like potential criminals, even within their own schools and classrooms — doing time ends up seeming more like an inevitable stage of one’s life, rather than a reflection of any personal choices one might make.

So do I think this is a system of racial and social control? Absolutely. This is a system that operates to control populations defined by race and class through primarily punitive interventions, rather than investing in education and job opportunities and the types of investments that might give kids a path out.

RS: When did we really start seeing a trend in schools of ticketing and arresting kids instead of bringing students, parents and teachers together to talk things out?

MA: What I find most interesting is that the trend towards [harsh discipline] in schools really emerged at the same time as [President Ronald Reagan’s] war on drugs and the get-tough movement [in the 1980s]. In fact, the zero tolerance policies that are now standard in schools all across the nation, the language from many of those zero tolerance policies were actually lifted from Drug Enforcement Administration manuals that were aimed at drug law enforcement.

And I think we see the same kind of mentality playing itself out, this war-like mentality. With the war on drugs we’ve defined certain populations, defined by race and class, as the enemy, and in the education system we’ve defined children as the enemy. When we say we have zero tolerance for a population, we’re basically sending the message that these are people we’re willing to dispose of, provided with the least excuse. And that is in fact what we’ve done.

Next week- Cages not Careers: Part II

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

Award winning poet presents work during National Poetry Month

— Spoken word artist and new author Cherrie Amour will read from her first book of poetry, “Free to Be Me: Poems on Life, Love and Relationships” at Enoch Pratt Free Library, 1303 Orleans Street Baltimore, MD 21231 on Tuesday, April 8, 6:30 p.m. and at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture on Saturday, April 12, 2 p.m. (museum admission is required) during National Poetry Month in April. Amour’s book poetically explores her geographical and emotional journey from childhood to adulthood and from the Caribbean to Canada and Detroit, Michigan to Baltimore. “Free to Be Me” is about turning wounds into wisdom and shares Amour’s intimate journey of trials and triumphs.

Cherrie’s soulful poetic verses in “Free to Be Me” shares her story 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, a licensed counselor specializing in family, and marital relationships.

“I hope my book will give readers a point of reference for their own journeys,” says Amour.

Amour recently released presented her award-winning poem “Hermoso Negro” as part of the 2013 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Reading and Awards Ceremony on Saturday, February 1, at the Poetry Center in Paterson, New Jersey. Cherrie’s poem, which received an honorable mention in the Center’s competition, was featured along with the work of several established and emerging poets at the event which honors the literary contributions of Ginsberg – the legendary Paterson, NJ-reared Beat poet and writer who passed away in 1997. Her poem “Hermoso Negro,” (Handsome Black Man) a tribute to her father is also included in her debut poetry collection and will be published in the Fall 2014 issue of The Paterson Literary Review.

In Baltimore, Free to Be Me is available for purchase at The Book Escape bookstore located at 805 Light Street in Baltimore.