Democrats bash Obama yet want black vote

— Here are a few election-time questions to think over: Why in the world do Democrats think they can bash President Obama and his policies and still win black votes? Why should black voters be motivated to turn out after months of watching Democrats bash the president? What exactly is the strategy for Democrats to get black voters out?

Many Democrats running this cycle, even in states and districts with large black voting populations— including North Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana— have made the deduction that annoying and ignoring black voters is less important than winning white ones. The white swing voter is supposedly a more vital target than the black voter who is a 95 percent sure bet to vote for a Democrat. It’s a fascinating strategy featuring Democrats running in fear of their own record while ignoring what’s happened over the last six years.

Thanks to the president, Osama Bin Laden is dead. The unemployment rate is now 5.9 percent. Even the black unemployment rate dropped from 16.5 percent in 2011 to its current 11.4 percent and more than eight million Americans have signed up for health care.

The Republican contribution— Gridlock, more than 50 votes on Obamacare repeals and shutting down the government. The approval numbers for Republicans in Congress is lower than the president’s yet Democrats shun his policies?

Yes, Obama has a 40 percent approval rating but Congress’ approval sits at 14 percent — the lowest since 1974. You wonder what the numbers would be if Democrats actually stopped apologizing for their record and instead put the GOP on the defensive. Who among the GOP leadership in Washington can claim legislative achievement in a party whose number one ideology is gridlock? This is the least productive Congress in history.

If Democrats lose the Senate, it will be because of self-inflicted wounds.

When asked what the Democrats’ strategy was for getting out the black vote, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel referenced a voter turnout strategy focused on getting voters out based on “what’s at stake for the African American community.”

Apparently Democrats have forgotten— or don’t care— that black voters are the party’s most loyal voting block. In 2012, black voters turned out at a higher percentage than whites. Black women are the highest turnout group among all women. But this enthusiasm will likely lessen, not just because the first black president will no longer be on the ballot, but because Democrats fail to support the policies enacted while he was there.

In a midterm election it will take more than a pre-election day Sunday swing-by to get black voters and others out. Yet many Democrats make no specific references or pledges on specific policy that might motivate that turnout. Few

Democrats dare discuss racial profiling, mandatory minimums or justice reform or— God forbid— health care reform.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat running for Senate in Kentucky against gridlock king, Senator Mitch McConnell, won’t even admit she voted for President Obama. Instead of running a campaign that puts McConnell on the defensive by bringing up how little he has done for Kentucky, Grimes is frantically telling voters how much she disagrees with President Obama.

Likewise, in Arkansas, Senator Mark Pryor’s race has become about Pryor dodging questions on whether he agrees with President Obama exactly what the GOP wants. In Colorado, Democrat Mark Udall was asked, “Which of the president’s proposed policies are you prepared to vote against?” by a moderator. Even some journalists have bought in to the GOP’s narrative.

If a voter’s big concern is whether a candidate agreed with the president in their party, you can pretty much bet that’s a Republican voter. For some reason, Democrats are trying to win the voter who hates the president and get out the base simultaneously. Good luck with that one.

Even after eight million Americans have signed up, Democrats run from the idea of bringing up the Affordable Care Act as a success. The number of Americans without health care has dropped to the lowest rate since the 1990s— from 18 percent to 13 percent. The uninsured rate for African-Americans is now 15.1 percent, from 18.9 percent. However, Democrats fail to mention how dead wrong Republicans were in 2010 and beyond, after health care reform was signed into law. Instead they continue to run from their own shadow.

It seems Democrats are on the brink of getting the result they deserve. Does running away from your own record work? The Democratic Party is likely to find out the answer to that question the hard way on November 4, 2014.

Lauren Victoria Burke is freelance writer and creator of the blog: “,” which covers African American members of Congress. She can be reached through her website:

AAA tips to get your car ready for winter

— October is Car Care Month and AAA Mid-Atlantic is reminding drivers about the importance of properly maintaining their vehicles. There are a few simple tasks every driver can do to ensure their car is road ready for the winter ahead.

“Learning how to handle common maintenance issues is beneficial to anyone who gets behind the wheel,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Proper maintenance can extend the life of your vehicle, help prevent costly repairs, and avoid potentially dangerous breakdowns while on the road.”

In the past, vehicle maintenance needs were relatively simple and consistent across automakers. Today’s engineering advancements require less maintenance at less frequent intervals. Examples include oil-change intervals now recommended at 5,000 to 10,000 or more miles; transmission fluids designed to last 100,000 miles and sealed batteries that never need to have fluid added. Even with these advancements, vehicles still require routine services that are important to maintaining the performance and safety of the vehicle.

October is the perfect month for motorists to make sure their vehicle is winter ready. The weather is mild and there is plenty of time to deal with any potentially costly repairs before the winter weather arrives. To ensure your vehicle is properly maintained, AAA Mid-Atlantic recommends that motorists:

·Read and follow the maintenance requirements and schedule set by your car’s manufacturer in the owner’s manual to avoid under-or over-maintaining your vehicle. Oil changes, tire rotations, changing transmission fluid, and replacing an air filter are the types of routine maintenance procedures recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. There is no longer a “standard” maintenance schedule for vehicle services. Each automaker has different requirements, making your owner’s manual the most accurate resource.

·Inspect brakes as recommended in your owner’s manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, pulling, noises while braking or longer stopping distance. Correct minor brake problems promptly. Check your owner’s manual to see if the brake fluid should be changed at a specific interval. If no interval is specified for brake fluid service, AAA suggests flushing the system every two years or anytime the brake system is serviced.

·Follow the recommendations of in-vehicle maintenance reminders, as they have the best information to determine maintenance needs for your vehicle

because they account for how you actually drive. However, many reminder systems do not specifically cover maintenance operations that need to be performed on a time or mileage basis— such as brake fluid and coolant flushes or timing-belt replacement.

·Every car requires routine maintenance and repair so work with a local automotive repair shop you trust. The best time to find a mechanic or auto

repair shop is before you need one. Start by asking friends and family for recommendations of repair shops and mechanics. Visit to find nearby AAA Car Care Centers and AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, take your

vehicle to your top candidate shop for routine maintenance. While there, talk with the employees and take a look at the facility and consider the following questions:

*Does the facility have up to date equipment?

*Were you offered a written estimate?

*Does the shop offer a nationwide warranty on parts and labor?

*Are customer areas clean, comfortable and well organized?

For more information, please visit our web site at

Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery

— In honor of the 150th anniversary of Maryland Emancipation, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum presents renowned photo historian Dr. Deborah Willis on Saturday November 1, 2014 at 1 p.m. Her critically acclaimed book, “Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery,” co-written with Barbara Krauthamer, tells the visual story of the period before, during and after emancipation and its effect on African Americans. It won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Nonfiction, 2014.

Dr. Deborah Willis' critically acclaimed book, “Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery,” co-written with Barbara Krauthamer, tells the visual story of the period before, during and after emancipation and its effect on African Americans.

(Courtesy Photo)

Dr. Deborah Willis’ critically acclaimed book, “Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery,” co-written with Barbara Krauthamer, tells the visual story of the period before, during and after emancipation and its effect on African Americans.

While history is often told from one perspective, “We were interested in using collective memory” to document the era, Dr. Willis says, since emancipation was “a collective experience.”

The book contains rarely-before seen images from the Antebellum period through the 1930s. “Not only do these images offer rare glimpses into the lives of African Americans of the time, but the images are also testament to the qualities of pride and unending courage,” says Dr. Skipp Sanders, Executive Director of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

Other poignant realities are uncovered. Before emancipation, historic photographs show women holding slave master’s children. After emancipation, women are posing with their own families, with grandchildren on their laps. They, like other newly freed individuals, eagerly commissioned portraits to document and create a history of their survival and freedom.

Visitors on November 1 are also invited to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum’s Resource Center. The Resource Center provides genealogical research tools and assistance to members of the public who wish to trace their family history.

Dr. Willis is University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She was a 2005 Guggenheim Fellow and Fletcher Fellow, and a 2000 MacArthur Fellow. Professor Willis has pursued a dual career as an art photographer and as one of the nation’s leading historians and curators of African American photography.

Chairs full during BCCC Dental Hygiene Clinic Senior Week

It was a busy week for students in the Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) Dental Hygiene Program as the annual event where free preventative dental care is provided to area seniors.

Each October, as part of National Dental Hygiene Month, BCCC holds a Senior Week community outreach event to seniors 62 and over who stop by the Dental Hygiene Clinic for free cleanings, oral cancer exams and x-rays. The event is an important public health project and often plays a role in early diagnosis of more serious conditions.

To visit or make an appointment with the Dental Hygiene Clinic, call Grace Simmons at 410-462-7712.

Airbag recall could expand

— More cars could soon join the list of recalls over exploding airbags, a senior administration official told CNN Friday.

Until now the nearly 8 million vehicles under recall have been concentrated in warmer states with humid climates, but there is increasing pressure to expand efforts nationwide.

The recall started last year, and it expanded earlier this year. The issue gained increasing attention earlier this month as Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stepped efforts to get car owners to replace their airbags.

At least four deaths and numerous injuries were linked to the parts, which didn’t expand properly in an accident or sometimes exploded.

The list of affected makes include Honda, Toyota, BMW, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Nissan, Ford and General Motors. Japanese parts maker Takata manufactured the defective airbags.

The official, who briefed reporters on background, criticized the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s response to the faulty devices.

“The inaccurate number of vehicles affected was not helpful to consumers, nor the fact that the agency’s website was not working,” the official said. “[The Department of Transportation] is doing an after action to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The official also said the DOT would be investigating the NHTSA’s “safety culture”, with a focus on the agency’s risk management procedures. The NHTSA’s director, David Strickland, stepped down nine months ago, and his replacement will soon be announced.

Indie Soul Entrepreneur of the Week: Nicolas T. Abrams

The Indie Soul Entrepreneur of the Week is a man who understands being a successful business person means being willing to expand beyond your comfort zone. “Although we may be the only ones in the room (African-Americans), we can’t be afraid to network with others, not just people that look like us, but with everyone in the business community,’ said Nicolas T. Abrams.

As owner of AJW Financial Partners LLC, Abrams has to deal with people on a daily basis and he understands what it takes to be in business and how to succeed.

“One has to have a plan and goals if one wants to be in business for themselves,” Abrams said.

On Wednesday, October 15, 2014, The Speaker Series hosted by The Baltimore Times and Coppin State University on the campus of Coppin State honored Nicolas T. Abrams for his accomplishments.

The Speaker Series is an event that partners local entrepreneurs with Coppin business students to share knowledge, tips, and networking opportunities.

Abrams said, “It is a joy to be able to share with students my experience and how I succeed in business.” For more on Nicolas T. Abrams, please visit:

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

AACC advisor chosen as national role model for mentoring students

Leon C. Thomas III, a student success and retention advisor at Anne Arundel Community College, received the 2014 Minority Access Role Model award as a mentor at the Minority Access’ National Role Models Conference that was held October 3-5, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

Although several national awards were given, Thomas was the sole recipient of the national mentor award this year by Minority Access.

African-American Community Forum on Memory Loss Celebrates 10th Anniversary

— The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Maryland Chapter will host the Tenth Annual Pythias A. and Virginia I. Jones African-American Community Forum on Memory Loss, Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Coppin State University located at 2500 W. North Avenue in Baltimore.

Over 425 family caregivers, health professionals, business leaders and policymakers are expected to attend the event, which 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.

“The Pythias A. and Virginia I. Jones African American Forum on Memory Loss started the dialogue on Alzheimer’s and over the years, more and more people are opening up to share their story, ask questions and spread awareness,” said Jones

Jolivet, who serves on Maryland’s Virginia I. Jones Council on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders and Alzheimer’s Association Greater Maryland Chapter Board of Directors. “We have come a long way in 10 years.”

Research suggests that the prevalence, incidence and cumulative risk of Alzheimer’s disease appear to be much higher in African-Americans, and older African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Additionally, blood pressure and diabetes, which are more prevalent in African-American and Hispanic people, may increase one’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.

With this in mind, keynote addresses will include a presentation from Dr. Warachal Faison (Pfizer, Inc.) on the impact of Alzheimer’s research on the African-American community and Dr. Ann Morrison (Copper Ridge Institute and Morrison & Associates) on managing behavioral difficulties in dementia and life.

Afternoon breakout sessions include presentations on the legal and financial problems that arise with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, caregiver stress, and research and information on other types of dementia. Additionally, two event sponsors will provide health screenings: Baltimore City Health System will provide nutrition consultations and eye screenings and Coppin State University’s Helene Fuld School of Nursing will provide blood pressure screenings.

Courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association and the other event sponsors, AARP, Allegis Group and Eli Lilly, admission is free and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. However, registration is required by October 27, 2014. To register or for more information, call the Alzheimer’s Association at 1-800-272-3900 or visit

Making the case for mandatory college graduation

After the housing industry, American’s colleges and universities are collectively the country’s second largest business. A closer look behind higher education’s ivy-covered walls reveals how colleges are kept afloat by practices as mercenary as housing’s sub-prime lending practices that nearly destroyed the US economy in 2008.

Like virtually all profit making organizations, colleges rely upon selective, sometimes deceptive marketing methods to bolster the value and prestige of degrees earned by students who complete their studies in 4 years. The operative word is “complete” because from the student’s point of view completion, not acceptance is what should drive the decision to select a college.

Each year US News and World Report, which calls itself the “nation’s leading news service provider of information that improves the quality of life of its readers” publishes a number of ratings that purports to rank the best American colleges.

The popularity of the online magazine’s rankings is undisputed. The first day its 2014 report was released brought a whopping 2.6 million unique visitors to its website and 18.9 million page views in a single day. Families wrestling with finding a college that best meets their child’s academic needs and aspirations should be aware this report may not be as impartial as it appears.

For example, colleges routinely use acceptance rates to drive up their ranking and impress upon the public the value of a degree earned from its institution. The clear message to prospective families is, many apply, but only accept a select few are accepted. According to the US News and World Report Stanford is America’s most selective college. For every 100 students who apply only 5.7 are offered acceptance, statistically speaking. Harvard comes in a close second at 5.8, Columbia and Yale are tied at 6.9 each and Princeton rounds out the top five with a 7.4 acceptance rate.

But, what is ROI (return on investment) for low acceptance rates? This kind of ranking is a ruthless way to distract attention away from its dismal back end statistics. Colleges know the same parents seeking to bask in the glow of their child gaining admission to a highly selective, cream of the crop school, would be put off by its low graduation rates. In my opinion the most impressive ranking is a list of colleges with highest 4 year graduation rate. This ranking is conspicuously absent from the report’s main pages; it is only found by a key words web search.

Apparently, there is no evidence exclusive acceptance has any value other than bragging rights that your kid got in a “good” school. Need proof there is no correlation between selective acceptance and actually earning a degree? Only one college (Columbia) ranked the third most selective university is the only school in the top 25 ranking of schools with the highest 4 year graduation rates. Acceptance is a necessary first step, but the bottom line is no school grants degrees just for gaining admittance.

If you are planning to send your child to a state college you may think these practices do affect your family? You would be mistaken. The disparity between college acceptance and graduation rates exposes one of higher education’s shadiest practices. To increase revenue all colleges artificially brandish their academic standing by routinely promoting a useless, misleading measure of success: a low, exclusive acceptance rate instead of the truest indicator value of its degrees, the 4 year graduation rate.

This practice is in part responsible for the ever increasing cost of a college education, and at the same time shields schools from any meaningful accountability.

But, what if the parents and students who bear the burden of high tuition and crushing debt demanded that colleges be responsible for ensuring the students it accepts were required to graduate from their school in four years. Basically, what I purpose is making college acceptance linked to mandatory graduation.

This idea is not as far-fetched and radical as it may first sound. Consider how military service functions as a viable vocational path for young men and women. In a process that mirrors colleges and universities, the army recruits and offers acceptance to people it believes can be trained and educated to become successful soldiers.

Like college signing up to join the armed forces is optional, but completing the terms of service is not. That, I believe is where the lack of higher education’s institutional accountability serves its needs at the expense of thousands of students who are accepted, take out loans, attend classes for one or two semesters but for variety of reasons fail to make it to the finish line.

Next week: Why higher education accountability matters to every member of our society.

Jayne Matthews Hopson writes each week about educational matters because “only the educated are free.”

Indie Soul Student of the Week: Christina Epps

The Indie Soul Student of the Week is usually reserved for students in grade school but this week we have made an exception. Christina Epps is an outstanding student-athlete at Coppin State University who recently won a prestigious national award for her excellence on and off the field.

Last week, Epps received the MEAC Woman of the Year Award from conference commissioner Dennis E. Thomas during the annual Fanny Jackson Coppin Convocation in the James Weldon Johnson Auditorium.

“I am elated, filled with joy and honor,” Epps said. “Coming to Coppin State was one of the best decisions I ever made. I went through some pain and it made my passion for track and field stronger, and now I feel like it’s my purpose to go to the 2016 Olympics and inspire others.”

When Epps stepped to the podium, she was overcome with emotion as she shed tears of joy while thanking Coppin State faculty, administrators and coaches.

Epps was a four-time All-MEAC student-athlete in track and field and is a six-time triple jump champion in the conference. She is the current Coppin State triple jump record holder. Her school standard is 13.40 meters (43 feet, 11.75 inches), which was established by finishing third overall at the NCAA Division I East Regional Outdoor Preliminary Championships.

Epps was selected as the Coppin State Female Presidents’ Eagle Award Winner, Female Athlete of the Year and MVP in track and field this past season. She served as team captain from 2012-2014 and was the SAAC president from 2013-2014.

Each week during the school year, Indie Soul will spotlight a student who excels in academics and in the community. To nominate someone for “Student of the Week,” call 410-366-3900 ext. 3016 or email with “Student of the Week” in the subject line.