Indie Soul: Constant Deviants

Real hip-hop is conscious, classic, and meaningful not just about money, cars and women. To make it on the Indie Soul page, you have to be about the real! What better way to kick off Black Music Month June 2014 than to review some real hip-hop. Please welcome Constant Deviants.

Their latest CD/Digital download, DIAMOND is one hit after another. With strong lyrical content and a masterful music production, DIAMOND, sounds better than a ton of commercial projects we hear not only on radio, but Internet radio as well.

“Growing up in Baltimore with older cats, we understand the culture and the music, and we want to be true to that. Which is another reason why we started our own record label Six2Six Records so we can put out the type of product we love and can get behind” states Constant Deviants.

Although they may be underground kings here in the United States, countries like Germany, France, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, and United Kingdom, love Constant Deviants. And according to Constant Deviants, “We are going to go wherever the love is. That doesn’t mean, we don’t want the support here in our home country. We need local newspapers and radio stations to show support as well.”

DIAMOND contains 15 of the hottest tracks with some bonus cuts. Tracks of special interest: “It’s OK,” “It’s All Love,” “One, Two,” “Gangster Boogie,” and “Victory.” Do yourself a favor and kick off y Black Music Month by getting your copy today: www.constantdeviants.com .

Indie Soul welcomes your questions and comments. To contact Phinesse Demps, call 410-366-3900 ext. 3016 or 410-501-0193 or email: pdemps@btimes.com. Follow him on Twitter@lfpmedia.

Juneteenth officially recognized in Maryland

A bill requiring the governor to annually proclaim June 19 as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” was signed, making Maryland the 43rd state to recognize the African American commemoration of the end of slavery.

After it unanimously passed the state Senate and House, Governor Martin O’Malley signed the bill on Thursday, May 15, 2014 and it takes effect on Sunday, June 1, 2014.

“In the home state of the hero and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, this is a huge moment for the movement,” said the Reverend Ronald Myers, the leader of a campaign to make Juneteenth a national observance.

Myers also serves as founder and president of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation and the National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council.

“This is a big day for all of us because of Maryland and now we must continue to press on until every state recognizes this and Juneteenth is a observed the way other holidays in this country are recognized,” said Myers, who is also a medical doctor and founder and director of the Myers Foundation Christian Family Health Centers which provide care to the poor and underserved in communities throughout the south and other areas.

Juneteenth, or the 19th of June, recognizes June 19, 1865, when Union Gen. Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas, that all slaves in the last southern state were free. The announcement came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

Myers says that history shows that upon reading the general’s order, the former slaves celebrated jubilantly, establishing America’s second Independence Day celebration and what he called the oldest African-American holiday observance.

“The news of freedom was met with shock and joy, and in subsequent years the now free men and women began to celebrate the day they heard of their freedom with their descendants,” State. Rep Melvin Stukes (D-Baltimore), who serves Maryland’s 44th District, said in composing the bill. “Although it declined in popularity during the early 20th century, there has recently been a resurgence of interest in the holiday and several presidents have also observed Juneteenth.

Myers says he particularly thanks Stukes for leading the efforts in Maryland and he is optimistic that other states will also pass legislation to observe the holiday.

Currently, there are seven states that do not recognize Juneteenth including Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah.

Reportedly, Democratic Senator Martha Fuller Clark of New Hampshire is pushing hard for that state to recognize Juneteenth.

“It seems to me that this is an opportunity to recognize and honor an important tradition in the history of African Americans, and it’s hard for me to see why anyone would object to New Hampshire doing this,” Clark told the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire.

Myers says momentum has built nationwide and his efforts have even received the support of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn, Republican Kansas Senator Pat Roberts and others. He went on to say that he continues working to get presidential support and he hopes that President Barack Obama will eventually issue a Juneteenth Proclamation at the White House.

“Why not? When Obama was a senator he spoke in support of it,” Myers said. “And, the White House was built by enslaved Americans of African descent during the tyranny of slavery.”

Artscape returns to Baltimore

— Artscape, which highlights the nation’s best in the visual and performing arts, will take place Friday, July 18, 2014 through Sunday, July 20, 2014 on Mount Royal Avenue and North Charles Street. The 2014 festival will be headlined by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Ozomatli, Galactic, and Anthony Hamilton.

In 2014, Artscape invites festival-goers to Join the movement! with an emphasis on dance and all things motion-related, including Silent! Disco in Pearlstone Park, Dance! at The Lyric, kinetic contraptions along Mount Royal Avenue, ballroom dancing on Charles Street, and the new Aerial Arts Arena.

The annual three-day festival features live music on four outdoor stages and an assortment of food and beverages, as well as a full schedule of theater, dance, street theater and opera, folk, classical and experimental music performances, fine art, exhibitions, crafts, film, children’s activities.

Artscape is America’s largest free arts festival, which attracts over 350,000 attendees over three days. Artscape features fine artists, fashion designers and craftspeople; visual art exhibits on and off-site, including exhibitions, outdoor sculpture, art cars, photography and the Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize; incredible live concerts on outdoor stages; a full schedule of performing arts including dance, opera, theater, film, experimental music and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; family events such as hands-on projects, demonstrations, competitions, children’s entertainers and street theater; and a delicious, international menu of food and beverages that is available throughout the festival site: www.artscape.org.

“Once again this year’s festival is free. It is important that we maintain keeping the festival free as it is important to economy of Baltimore, through tourism, economic development, helping the population grow, and getting people who live here to stay here in Baltimore,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

So what’s new this year? The Fred Lazarus IV Artscape Prize (“The Fred”) is a competitive program that seeks to recognize and encourage artistic talent in Baltimore City. Rising high school seniors may apply for the prize, which awards $1,000 to a Baltimore City school student artist. The selected artist also receives a stipend to produce a solo exhibition in conjunction with the annual festival, with mentorship from the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. The prize is named in honor of the Maryland Institute College of Arts’ long-serving president.

When it comes to the concerts, which will be held at various locations, expect to hear some jazz, blues, ska, sunk, soul, and hip-hop. Some of the artists on tap include Kevin Jackson, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, The Joe Cooper Project, Emily King, and Anthony Hamilton.

Braving the segregated South to get the story

This is part II of a three-part series on longtime journalist Moses J. Newson. Earlier this year Newson was inducted into The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) 2014 Hall of Fame earlier for his outstanding contributions to the industry.

Moses Newson and other members of the black press constantly subjected themselves to racial slurs, beatings, and other forms of attack as angry whites demonstrated their disapproval of integration. En route, they would brave the dark, winding roads of the South, where members of the KKK lurked and burned crosses.

Despite the danger, Newson and his counterparts did not turn back. They had come there to get something and were not leaving without it – the news story.

photo

(Courtesy Photo)

Moses Newson outside of a “Freedom Riders” bus which was firebombed by an angry mob near Anniston, Alabama in 1961. Newson was among those aboard the bus during the attack.

Such was the case when Newson was dispatched to Money, Mississippi to cover the Emmett Till murder trial.

Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago, was visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi, on August 24, 1955, when he reportedly whistled at a white woman named Carolyn Bryant. Four days later, two white men— reportedly Bryant’s husband Roy Bryant, and his half-brother J. W. Milam, kidnapped and murdered Till. The two men were arrested for the murder, thus setting the stage for one of the most famous trials of all time.

“We went there to cover the trial,” said Newson who was writing for The Tri-State Defender of Memphis, Tennessee, the southern outpost of The Chicago Defender. “We had the largest contingent of any black newspaper in the South covering any type of story. We were met by Sheriff H.C. Strider. He indicated the courtroom wasn’t integrated, and the press tables were set up for whites only. However, that eventually changed. They finally set-up tables for us off to the side.”

According to Newson, now 87, the lack of witnesses prompted him and several prominent NAACP members including Medgar Evers to successfully locate overlooked witnesses on various plantations.

“Sheriff Strider didn’t do much to get witnesses,” recalled Newson. “As a matter of fact, he testified for the killers. There were rumors out there that there were some people who had some idea of what had taken place. We went undercover and put on trousers and work clothes that made us look like we had been working on a plantation to locate witnesses, and see if they were willing to testify.”

The effort paid off, as they were able to locate witnesses on various plantations. However, despite such efforts, and overwhelming evidence of the defendants’ guilt, on September 23, 1955, the panel of white male jurors acquitted Bryant and Milam of all charges. Their deliberations lasted only 67 minutes.

“During the trial, the defendants didn’t seem to be too worried,” said Newson. “At the time, people were killed just for getting people to register to vote. But they later spilled the beans and sold the story.”

Protected by double jeopardy laws, the two men sold their story to Look magazine for $4,000 admitting to the crime.

In 1961, Newson also covered the first leg of the “Freedom Riders,” civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States to challenge the non-enforcement of two Supreme Court decisions which ruled that segregated public buses were unconstitutional. Newson was among the passengers on a bus in Anniston, Alabama, when a mob set it on fire with the “Riders” and other passengers still aboard.

“The mob dared us to come off the bus and integrate Alabama,” recalled Newson. “They were banging on the bus with chains and pipes. There was also a long line of cars following us, and one pulling alongside of us to prevent us from gaining any speed. They also punctured the tires.”

He added, “We didn’t know at the time, but there were plain clothes officers on the bus. One pulled his pistol and prevented them from getting on the bus. Someone threw a missile on the bus. I decided to stay on the bus because they were still hitting people getting off the bus. I suffered a few burns. By the time the police arrived, they had burned the bus down to the ground.”

The harrowing moments of that day are still etched in Newson’s mind. “It was one of the ugliest scenes I have ever seen,” he said. “People were on the ground trying to get the smoke of out of their chest. I thought how horrible it was that this was happening to American citizens who were only trying to take advantage of laws to ride aboard integrated buses.”

This series will continue with more about the landmark events that Newson covered during the Civil Rights era, the struggles of today and his induction into The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) 2014 Hall of Fame.

Celebration banquet held for outgoing UBMC president

— Five hundred well wishers gathered the evening of Friday, May 23, 2014 to celebrate the end of Reverend Dr. James B. Gray, Jr.’s successful four year journey as president of the United Baptist Missionary Convention (UBMC) of Maryland and its Auxiliaries, Inc.

According to Dr. Gray, he enjoyed every minute of his presidency, which included several accomplishments that will impact the convention for many years to come. One of the most noticeable accomplishments was the revision of the constitution, which changed the officer election procedures along with the addition of the newly organized Children, Youth and Young Adult Auxiliary.

Instead of having a keynote speaker, greetings and accolades were delivered by current and former UBMC officers, auxiliary leaders, Pleasant Zion Church leaders and family members. Vice presidents, including the newly elected president, Rev. Dr. Cleveland Mason, spoke of the evening as being a “happy and reflective time” Other speakers frequently referred to Dr. Gray as a “man empowered by the vision”

Speaking for the family, his daughter Marvella Gray revealed how happy she is that the family can now cruise the waters without interruptions due to her father’s constant telephone conversations regarding convention issues.

In a previously recorded video interview by Rev. Domanic Smith when asked how he would like to be remembered, Dr. Gray stated that he wants people to remember that,“I did my best.” The video also shared some of his past history and intimate thoughts with guests at the event.

Even though the Martins West celebration was designed to pay tribute to Dr. Gray, he took time to thank the past presidents and a number of other people who he felt were helpful to his administration. Throughout his tenure, he humbly said, “I can’t do it by myself.”

Rev. Dr. Gray, Jr. was inducted into the Former President’s Council by the two living past presidents, Rev. Charles Coger and Rev. Dr. Matthew Jones.

“He is a good man, a kind man,” said Rev. Coger and added that God has more things in store for him.

Music for the occasion was provided by soloist Jewel Perry, the Statham Singers and the Just Us Jazz Band.

Indie Soul Student of the Week: Danny Shand

Here is the scenario: You are separated from your mom until the age of nine; your mother works three jobs to provide for the family; someone in your home gets murdered. What are the odds that you make it? This week’s Student of the Week, Danny Shand lived this.

According to mentor Choo Smith, a former Harlem Globetrotter who now owns and operates Choo Smith Enterprises, Danny’s mother knew she needed help raising her son. “When Danny’s mother came to me when he was 14 years of age, she asked me to help her with her son. I took the challenge because I saw the potential in this kid when others gave up on him,” said Smith.

Choo set out to make sure Danny focused on his education, which had not been a priority. Entering his freshman year of high school, Danny had a grade point average of 1.3 and each year he worked to improve it. During his senior year, he made the honor roll. Not only that, Danny is Second Team All-Metro in basketball.

On May 28th, Shand announced he would be attending Barton College a Division 2 college on a full scholarship. “Danny chose that school, because he felt that college would not let him fail in academics. When he went for a campus visit, he was more concerned about the campus library, since that is where he wants to spend his time.” Said Smith.

When others were telling Danny he would never make it, Danny believed in himself. With the support of his mother and mentor Choo Smith he proved them wrong.

Congratulation to Danny Shand, our Student of the Week.

Why I still have faith in Congress

It’s depressing to read poll after poll highlighting Americans’ utter disdain for Congress. But it’s my encounters with ordinary citizens at public meetings or in casual conversation that really bring me up short. In angry diatribes or in resigned comments, people make clear their dwindling confidence in both politicians and the institution itself.

With all Congress’s imperfections— its partisanship, brinksmanship, and exasperating inability to legislate— it’s not hard to understand this loss of faith. Yet as people vent their frustration, I hear something else as well. It is a search for hope. They ask, almost desperately sometimes, about grounds for renewed hope in our system. Here’s why I’m confident that we can do better.

Let’s start with a point that should be obvious, but that people rarely notice: Our expectations are too high. In part, this is our elected officials’ fault: they over-promise and under-perform. They set the bar high— promising strong leadership, a firm hand on the legislative tiller, and great policy accomplishments— then usually fail to clear it.

Which should come as no surprise. Congress is not built for efficiency or speediness. On almost every issue, progress comes in increments. The future of the American health care system may appear to hang on the debate raging these days about the

Affordable Care Act, but this is just the latest installment of a long-running fight that began even before the creation of Medicare and Medicaid almost five decades ago.

Congress deals with complex issues over many years and sometimes, dozens of pieces of legislation. Focusing on any one moment in our legislative history is to miss the slow but undeniable advance of progress on Capitol Hill.

I also tend to be more patient with congressional leaders than many people who share their frustrations with me. Our political leaders confront a terribly difficult political environment: the country is both deeply and evenly divided along partisan and ideological lines. Getting 218 votes in the House and 60 votes in the Senate can be a punishing task. It takes skill, competence, and a great deal of passion to make progress in this kind of environment— especially when those in Congress who are dedicated to finding a way forward have to face colleagues who do not appear to want the system to work.

This brings me to a third point. If 50 years of watching Congress closely have taught me anything, it’s to wait until the end of a congressional session to see what members actually accomplish. Despite all the bickering, roadblocks, delays, and grandstanding, Congress can often pass significant legislation by the end of a session, even if it can’t do everything we expect of it.

And members of Congress are good politicians. Most try hard to understand what the people want, and try to bring about meaningful change, at least within their ideological framework. It may take a while, but Congress in the end responds to public sentiment. That is why it will pass the government’s basic funding bills this year, having learned from the public outrage over last year’s government shutdown.

Finally, Congress has proven over its long history that even in the most difficult circumstances it can be astoundingly productive. The very first Congress, meeting at a time of enormous political uncertainty and financial trouble, was able to firm up the new government’s structure and set the course for the nation’s future.

At one of the darkest times in our recent history, during the height of the Watergate scandal— when tensions between Congress and the White House and between Democrats and Republicans were no less pointed than they are now— Congress and President Nixon were still able to collaborate on the Federal Aid Highway Act; the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization; the Endangered Species Act; the Legal Services Corporation Act, an overhaul of the farm subsidy program; and an increase in the minimum wage.

Congress often has risen above periods of great contention. It possesses a resilience that is obvious from the perspective of decades. Building on that search for hope in our system, and on the long historical record, Americans have good reason to believe that Congress can and will do better.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34-years.

Focusing on ADHD treatment options

Education Matters continues the series on special education. This week focuses on treatment options for ADHD. Parents and guardian should be aware that their child’s teacher or guidance counselor will often be the first to raise concerns a student is ADHD. However, ADHD is a neurological condition that requires a diagnosis from a physician. While your child’s school may suspect ADHD, only a medical doctor is equipped to conduct the proper assessments, make a diagnosis, and determine which, if any medications to prescribe.

The following information is offered to give parents an overview of treatments and other remediation options that are available to help your child reach his or her full academic potential. The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) is the primary source of information for this article.

Once a child has been diagnosed with ADHD parents are faced figuring out what to do next. It is important to remember that while ADHD can’t be cured, it can be successfully managed. There are many treatment options, so parents and doctors should work closely with everyone involved in the child’s treatment— teachers, coaches, therapists, and other family members. Taking advantage of all the resources available will help you guide your child towards success.

Remember, you are your child’s strongest advocate! In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of medication and behavior therapy. Good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way.

Treatment for ADHD falls into three categories: behavioral therapy, medications and parental support therapy.

Research shows that behavioral therapy is an important part of treatment for children with ADHD. ADHD affects not only a child’s ability to pay attention or sit still at school, it also affects relationships with family and how well they do in their classes. Behavioral therapy is the option that can help reduce these problems for children and should be started as soon as a diagnosis is made. Following are examples that might help with your child’s behavioral therapy:

•Create a routine. Try to follow the same schedule every day, from wake-up time to bedtime.

•Get organized: schoolbags, clothing, and toys in the same place every day so your child will be less likely to lose them.

•Avoid distractions. Turn off the TV, radio, and computer, especially when your child is doing homework.

•Limit choices. Offer a choice between two things (this outfit, meal, toy, etc., or that one) so that your child isn’t overwhelmed and overstimulated.

•Change your interactions with your child. Instead of long-winded explanations and cajoling, use clear, brief directions to remind your child of responsibilities.

•Use goals and rewards. Use a chart to list goals and track positive behaviors, then reward your child’s efforts. Be sure the goals are realistic—baby steps are important!

•Discipline effectively. Instead of yelling or spanking, use timeouts or

removal of privileges as consequences for inappropriate behavior.

•Help your child discover a talent. All kids need to experience success to feel good about themselves. Finding out what your child does well— whether it’s sports, art, or music— can boost social skills and self-esteem.

Medication can help a child with ADHD in their everyday life and may be a valuable part of a child’s treatment. Medication is one option that may help better control some of the behavior problems that have led to trouble in the past with family, friends and at school. Several different types of medications may be used to treat ADHD:

•Stimulants are the best-known and most widely used treatments. Between 70-80 percent of children with ADHD respond positively to these medications.

•Non-stimulants were approved for treating ADHD in 2003. This medication seems to have fewer side effects than stimulants and can last up to 24 hours.

Medications can affect children differently, where one child may respond well to one medication, but not another. When determining the best treatment, the doctor might try different medications and doses, so it is important to work with your child’s doctor to find the medication that works best for your child.

Parent education and support are important parts of the treatment plan for a child with ADHD. Children with ADHD might not respond as well as other children to the usual parenting practices, so some experts recommend additional parent education.

This approach has been successful in teaching parents how to help their children become better organized, develop problem-solving skills, and cope with their ADHD symptoms. Parent education can be conducted in groups or with individual families and is offered by therapists or in special classes. Ask your pediatrician for recommendations on local support groups.

Jayne Matthews Hopson writes about education matters because on the educated are free.

Design, invent, explore and discover at AACC summer camps

The camps this summer at Anne Arundel Community College’s Kids in College program offer more opportunities for youths of all ages to see how technology can take ordinary crafts, game and design camps to a new level.

AACC partner FutureMakers brings a mobile makerspace tools to reshape Lego® blocks to create customized components, design toys, print 3D objects, invent machines or build furniture. AACC partner Black Rocket Productions shows campers how to be code-breakers, create game applications (apps) or create inventions from junkyard materials. Youths can try Jedi engineering and take on engineering challenges with AACC partner Play Well TEKnologies or become space explorers in camps in partnership with Spaceflight Institute.

In other new camps, football fans can get some insight on building viable fantasy football teams, younger campers can use animal shapes and sizes to create games, stories and art, and older campers can use digital images to design original buttons.

The perennial favorite camps are back, including babysitting training, bug exploration, messy art, cooking, runway fashions, theater, Legos®, composing your own music, theater and sports jamboree camps.

For information about individual camp availability or to register, visit www.aacc.edu/kic/summer.cfm.

Baltimore’s Jada Pinkett Smith directs new ‘Annie’ film

Jada Pinkett Smith knew from the very moment she saw Quvenzhane Wallis the 10-year-old would make the perfect “Annie.”

“It wasn’t difficult at all choosing her, she has the size, charisma and the talent,” said Pinkett Smith, a Baltimore School for the Arts graduate and the wife of superstar Will Smith.

The comment shouldn’t be taken lightly because Smith’s own daughter, pop star Willow, had originally been tapped to play the lead role but Hollywood’s power couple decided on Quvenzhane because of her age and sheer talent. Willow, age 13, has simply outgrown the part.

Quvenzhane, who received an Oscar nomination for her outstanding performance in the 2012 film, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” joins a cast that includes Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.

The Hollywood heavyweights have begun putting the finishing touches on, “Annie,” which is scheduled to hit theaters in Baltimore and around the country in time for the Christmas holidays.

“It’s something that’s been in production for a little while and I’m really looking forward to it,” Quvenzhane said in a previously published interview. I’m honored to have been chosen.”

In March this year, Pinkett Smith, who is co-producing the film with her husband, Will and hip-hop impresario Jay-Z, released the first trailer for the movie which depicts Quvenzhane and others in the All-Star cast dancing and singing to favorites such as, “It’s a Hard Knock Life” and “Tomorrow.”

“Just think, three years ago, [Quvenzhane] was a truck driver’s daughter in small town Louisiana, now, the other side of an Oscar nomination for best actress, she’s likely to be the mainstay of a potential Christmas blockbuster film,” said film critic Andrew Pulver, who writes for the Guardian in Great Britian. “And, she’s still only 10. Quvenzhane Wallis’ acting career is nothing short of miraculous, so it’s probably appropriate that she’s the star of a remake of ‘Annie.’”

Directed by Will Gluck, “Annie” is the story of an orphaned young girl who finally gets an opportunity to escape the madhouse and cruelty of an orphanage and its mean headmistress.

In the Smith/Jay-Z version, Annie encounters Benjamin Stacks and not the original’s Daddy Warbucks.

Stacks is campaigning for mayor of New York City and, after a chance encounter with Annie, he strikes an unusual bond with the young girl and becomes a father figure to her.

The remake updates the original, which was set in Depression-era New York.

The trailer offers several references to how the film has been updated, with references to social media and the housemistress, played by Diaz.