MLK celebration at the Walter’s Art Museum

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. —Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Saturday, January 17, 2015 the Walters Art Museum celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a family festival. The day’s events started at 10 a.m. and included: MLK’s I Have A Dream Speech, and a performane by the Baltimore City College Choir. The Baltimore Urban Debate League spoke about what Martin Luther King, Jr. means to them and how he influenced them.

The Baltimore Urban Debate League: (Left to right) Maria Cedillo, Rejjia Camphor, Katie S. Arevalo, Jared Bey, Matthew Boykin-Derrill, Wayne Von Young Jr., Tanesha Blackledge and team advisor Trinya Smith.

(Photo: Phinesse Demps)

The Baltimore Urban Debate League: (Left to right) Maria Cedillo, Rejjia Camphor, Katie S. Arevalo, Jared Bey, Matthew Boykin-Derrill, Wayne Von Young Jr., Tanesha Blackledge and team advisor Trinya Smith.

Children participated in the Passport Through Peace art activity. According to staff member Lauren Megan, “This activity is about Dr. Kings worldview of Peace.” One the children who visited the Passport Through Peace room was five-year-old Laoran Rome from Columbia, Maryland and her mother Keda. When Laoran was asked why she came to the event, she said, “For Dr. Martin Luther King.”

Waltee, the Walters beloved lion cub also participated in events at the museum.

The Walters Art Museum has wonderful activities all year long and offers many events for the entire family. For more information, visit: .

Ten local civil rights, diversity activists honored at MLK Awards Dinner

— The 27th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner was held Friday, January 16, 2015 in Glen Burnie. Vice Admiral Walter Carter, Jr., superintendent of the United States Naval Academy, was the keynote speaker. The crowd of almost 700 heard from U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes, Donna Edwards and Dutch Ruppersberger as well as County Executive Steve Schuh.

Among the 10 honorees was Reverend Dr. Carletta Allen, pastor of the Asbury United Methodist Church of Annapolis, who was recognized for her long history of protesting violations of workers’ rights and other civil rights causes— even enduring being handcuffed and arrested for her beliefs. Other individuals honored for their actions to help keep the legacy of Dr. King alive included: Miriam Stanici, community relations director of the Naval Academy; Dr. Larry W. Blum; Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell Charles; Bishop Douglas Miles; Carl Owens; Howard Zeiderman; Jeffrey S. Blum; Monzy Faulkner, Jr., and Ramocille Solenza Cooper Johnson.

During his keynote address Carter recounted a story of moral leadership by the second African-American to graduate from the academy. In the closing days of the Vietnam War that graduate, Lawrence Chambers, was the captain of the aircraft carrier USS Midway. His ship was at sea when a Cessna low on fuel and piloted by an escaping South Vietnamese soldier with his family asked to land on the carrier. He made the decision to dump helicopters worth $10 million in the sea to make the successful landing possible.

At the time, Chambers had only been in command of the USS Midway for four weeks and believed that his order would get him court marshaled. He also called Major Buang-Ly the “bravest man I have ever met in my life” and said of his decision to allow Ly to land that “When a man has the courage to put his family in a plane and make a daring escape like that, you have to have the heart to let him in.” Carter quoted Martin Luther King Jr. to illustrate Chambers moral leadership. “Everybody can be great…. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Carter concluded, “King produced some of the greatest oratory in the history of our nation.”

Entertainment was provided by the Maryland Youth Symphony Orchestra, performing an orchestral arrangement of America by Ray Charles and an excerpt of Dvorak Symphony No. 9 “The New World” incorporating the spiritual Goin’ Home. The Naval Academy Band played the National Anthem.

In 1988, then Alderman Carl O. Snowden founded the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner in Anne Arundel County. The dinner was designed to honor the legacy of Dr. King by honoring those who through their deeds, words and actions have helped to keep his legacy alive.

During Cervical Health Awareness Month, Maryland women urged to get Pap tests

— Of all cancers that affect women, cervical cancer is one of the most preventable. The human papillomavirus (HPV) causes cervical cancer and other cancers. For Cervical Health Awareness Month, Maryland is recommending that women get Pap tests and that preteens get HPV vaccinations.

In 2015, an estimated 230 women in Maryland will be told that they have cervical cancer. Seventy-three Maryland women will die from the disease this year. In order to eliminate these preventable illnesses and deaths, it is essential that individuals, families, healthcare providers and public health focus on promoting regular Pap tests among women 21 and older, as well as HPV vaccinations of preteen boys and girls.

“There is a great opportunity in Maryland to prevent even more cervical cancer diagnoses each year, by increasing cancer screening and HPV vaccination rates,” said Dr. Laura Herrera Scott, Acting Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “HPV vaccinations amount to cancer prevention.”

In Maryland, the majority of women aged 21 to 65 years, about 88 percent, have had a Pap test in the past three years. However, younger women (aged 21 to 29 years) and non-white and non-black women are not getting screened as often as their counterparts. The HPV vaccine is highly recommended for girls and boys, 11 or 12 years old (and up until age 26 for those who have not been vaccinated yet). However, here in Maryland, only 31 percent of girls have had all three doses of the vaccine. Only 20 percent of boys have had their first dose.

There are many options for obtaining and paying for Pap tests and the HPV vaccine. Health insurance can cover this cancer screening and vaccine. For example, lower-income women 40 to 64 years old who do not have health insurance or who have out-of-pocket costs might be eligible for a Pap test at no cost. Call 1-800-477-9774 to discuss the eligibility requirements. Medicaid enrollment through Maryland Health Connection is available year-round, if Marylanders qualify.

The Center for Cancer Prevention and Control works to promote cervical cancer screening and is dedicated to the implementation of initiatives aimed at decreasing cervical cancer mortality rates in Maryland. For informative videos and other materials, please call 1-800-477-9774 or visit

Many spouses are cheating – financially

— If you’re keeping financial secrets from your spouse, you’re not alone.

One in five Americans has hidden a purchase of $500 or more from their significant other, according to a new study from And an estimated 7.2 million Americans have a bank account or credit card that their spouse doesn’t know about.

It may sound egregious, but hiding a shopping spree doesn’t take much more than a little white lie. You borrowed that new sweater from your sister, shipped an online order to the office, and just never mentioned the steep bar tab you rang up with coworkers.

Men are bigger secret spenders. They’re almost twice as likely as women to have hidden a purchase from their significant other. At the same time, more men also say they don’t mind if their spouse hides a big purchase. Only 18% of women say they’re OK with that.

But financial secrets can be a “recipe for disaster,” said Matt Schulz, a senior analyst at

It’s incredibly difficult to keep a household budget when you don’t know how much money is coming in and out, he said. It could lead to late bill payments, which can harm your credit score.

The report is based on a survey of 1,000 adults living in the U.S.

“Honesty is generally the best policy. If you don’t tell your spouse about these things and they find out, they might stat to wonder what else is being hidden,” Schulz said.


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Changes in your life may mean changes in your insurance needs

Major purchases and lifestyle changes, such as marriage, divorce or retirement, can have a profound effect on your insurance needs, so reviewing your coverage annually is always a good idea, according to Patrick Bain, president of Long & Foster Insurance.

“Making sure you’re properly insured is important. If you don’t have enough coverage, you could end up paying for it later,” Bain said. “Conversely, you could save money if your current coverage is more than you need. It’s always good to do a regular checkup of your policies and provide updates to your insurance agent, who can also help you find money-saving discounts.”

The Insurance Information Institute recommends you consider the following questions when reviewing your policies:

•Have you gotten married or divorced? If you tied the knot, you may qualify for discounts on your insurance policies if you and your spouse combine them. You may also want to update your homeowners’ insurance, increase your insurance to cover new household goods and jewelry, and consider adding life insurance. If you got divorced, you should inform your insurer as you will need to set up separate auto and homeowners policies.

•Have you had a baby? If you have recently added a child to your family, whether by birth or adoption, it is important to review your life insurance and disability income protection.

•Did your teenager get a driver’s license? It is generally cheaper to add your teenagers to your auto insurance policy than for them to purchase their own. If they are going to be driving their own car, consider insuring it with your company so you can get a multi-car discount.

•Have you switched jobs or experienced a significant change in your income? If you had life and disability insurance through your former employer and your new employer does not provide equivalent protection, you can replace the “lost” coverage with individual policies.

•Have you done extensive renovations on your home? If you made major improvements to your home, you risk being underinsured if you don’t report the changes to your insurance company. And don’t overlook new structures outside of your home, such as sheds and gazebos.

•Have you acquired any new valuables such as jewelry or electronics? A standard homeowner’s policy offers only limited coverage for highly valuable items. If you purchased or received gifts that exceed these limits, consider supplementing your policy with a “floater,” a separate policy that provides additional insurance for your valuables and covers them for perils not included in your policy such as accidental loss.

•Have you signed a lease on a house or apartment? If you are renting a home, your landlord is responsible for insuring the structure of the building, but not for insuring your possessions.

•Have you retired? If you commuted regularly to your job, then in retirement your mileage has likely plummeted. If so, you should report it to your auto insurer because it could significantly lower the cost of your premiums. Furthermore, drivers over the age of 50 to 55 may get a discount, depending on the insurance company.

For more information, visit: or

Benedict Cumberbatch apologizes for ‘colored actors’ remark in U.S. interview

— Oscar-nominated star Benedict Cumberbatch has apologized for referring to black actors as “colored” on a U.S. talk show.

The “12 Years a Slave” actor said he was an “idiot” and “devastated” at his choice of words during an interview with PBS’ Tavis Smiley about the lack of diversity in the British film industry.

Cumberbatch, 38, told Smiley: “I think as far as colored actors go, it gets really difficult in the UK, and I think a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here [in the U.S.] than in the UK, and that’s something that needs to change.”

His comments were criticized by some observers on Twitter as being insensitive and out of touch. One user called Sonya Thomas asked: “Benedict Cumberbatch used the term ‘coloured’ to describe black actors. What year are we in?”

But Smiley, who is black, defended the “Sherlock” star on Monday, tweeting: “Those who saw Benedict Cumberbatch on @PBS, know he feels persons of color are underrepresented in #Hollywood.”

The actor, who appeared on Smiley’s show to discuss his Oscar-nominated role in “The Imitation Game,” praised the efforts of Lenny Henry, a black British actor and comedian who has launched a campaign to ensure more ethnic minorities are employed in the UK media.

“Something’s gone wrong — we’re not being representative enough in our culture of different races, and that really does need to step up a pace,” Cumberbatch said. “It’s clear when you see certain migratory patterns that there are more opportunities here than there are in the UK.”

Cumberbatch issued the following statement to People magazine on Monday: “I’m devastated to have caused offense by using this outmoded terminology. I offer my sincere apologies. I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done.”

“I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive. The most shaming aspect of this for me is that I was talking about racial inequality in the performing arts in the U.K. and the need for rapid improvements in our industry when I used the term.”

“I feel the complete fool I am and while I am sorry to have offended people and to learn from my mistakes in such a public manner please be assured I have. I apologize again to anyone who I offended for this thoughtless use of inappropriate language about an issue which affects friends of mine and which I care about deeply.”

Anti-racism campaigners in the UK lamented Cumberbatch’s use of the word as “outdated” but praised the actor for highlighting “a very important issue within the entertainment industry and within society.”

“The lack of representation of people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds within certain industries in the UK is an issue which needs addressing, and we are pleased that Benedict has spoken out in support of more appropriate representation and of the views of actors and campaigners like Lenny Henry,” a spokesperson from Show Racism the Red Card told CNN.

“In doing so, he has also inadvertently highlighted the issue of appropriate terminology and the evolution of language. Show Racism the Red Card feel that the term ‘coloured’ is now outdated and has the potential to cause offence due to the connotations associated with the term and its historical usage.”

“Appropriate terminology differs from country to country; for example, we know that in some countries the term ‘coloured’ is still widely used, and that in the US the term ‘people of colour’ is quite common.”

See the star’s full interview on Tavis Smiley here.


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Tax ID thefts highlight major scam

One of the most pervasive scams related to identity theft is an ongoing telephone scam where taxpayers receive calls from scammers who purport to be tax agents from the IRS.

“They claim to be calling about unpaid back taxes and proceed to threaten the unwitting taxpayers with arrest, lawsuits, suspension of their driver’s license and more,” said Michael Raanan, a former IRS agent who now owns and operates a professional tax resolution firm in California. “This is the biggest phone scam the IRS has ever had and it’s already netted over $5 million after hitting all 50 states and now Canada.”

He explained, “In many cases, the caller is able to recite the social security number of the taxpayer. The caller already has the person’s name, address and mobile phone number.”

As tax season swings into full gear, officials say they want to remind residents that identity theft remains the largest complaint category at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and within that category— tax identity theft has emerged as the largest of all subcategories.

To that end, the FTC’s Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week kicks off on Monday, January 26 and officials said imposter scams and similar ruses count as a new twist targeting taxpayers.

“As of August 2014, the treasury inspector general for tax administration had received over 210,000 complaints with victims losing about $11 million to these scams,” Lisa Lake, of the FTC’s division of consumer and business education, said in a news release.

“The FTC’s Sentinel data also shows a significant spike with tens of thousands of these complaints in 2014.”

The IRS imposter schemes typically are carried out by someone calling or sending an email pretending to be from the IRS. The scammers rig the caller identification mode to make it appear that the call is originating from the IRS. Many times the 202 area code will show because of the government agency’s D.C. location.

The scam artists likely have discovered the target’s last four digits of their social security number and they may also use a fake IRS identification number.

Officials said scammers ask individuals to wire money or put funds on a bank or money card while threatening arrest, deportation or loss of driver’s license. Further, the scammers sometimes will make a follow up call pretending to be a representative of the Department of Motor Vehicles or the police.

“I had my ID stolen and it was used by someone to file federal taxes for the tax year of 2013,” said local resident Gary Feld. “It was caught, but the IRS said it would still be another six months before they get around to processing my refund.

Raanan says although the IRS scam came to light in 2013, taxpayers throughout the country still receive unsolicited phone calls from individuals claiming to be from the IRS. Many of the calls appear to target seniors and minorities.

“The potential phone scam victims are told that they owe taxes that must be paid immediately to the IRS or that they are entitled to big refunds once they pay certain penalties. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes the IRS phone scammers call back trying a new strategy and from a new number,” Raanan said.

Among the tell tale signs to look for, Raanan says scammers generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves. Some victims have also reported being able to hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.

“Unfortunately, the scammers have worked out an effective system. After calling the unwitting victim on their cell phone, the taxpayer is persuaded to remain on the phone and instructed to travel to a local convenience store or Wal-Mart to purchase a Green Dot cash card. After the purchase, the victim then proceeds to provide the scammer with the account number on the back of the card, which is henceforth as good as cash in the thief’s pocket,” Raanan said.

The largest reported loss to a single victim was over $100,000 to a taxpayer who stayed on the line with the scam artist for about seven hours.

“In general, taxpayers should be aware the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or phone calls to request personal or financial information,” Raanan said. “IRS protocol requires a series of letters or notices to be sent to taxpayers by mail when communicating about their federal tax account.”

The FTC will host a free webinar during Tax Identity Theft Week on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 2 p.m. For more information or to register, visit:

Do school uniforms increase academic success?

Recently a teacher used class time to wash, comb and style the hair of a student who frequently came to school with a matted, lint filled mane. Following her good grooming lesson, the teacher proudly posted before and after photographs of the third grader on Facebook. She commented that the child, who was withdrawn and rarely spoke up in class, has shown signs of self-confidence and engagement. The teacher’s decision to groom the girl’s hair sparked heated debate on whether she overstepped her role as an educator.

While most people sided with the teacher, her actions chide us to further consider if there is a link between good grooming and good grades. At first glance it may seem shallow to attribute academic success to a student’s hairstyle, clothing or shoes. However in my observation, children who come to class neat and well cared for, have a better school experience. I am not saying a new dress and a fresh hairdo is a surefire route to better grades. Nevertheless, something as superficial as a child’s appearance can be one of the factors that contribute to a student’s capacity for success.

Anyone who questions the clothing/ learning connection should consider the long, storied history of school uniforms. Education blogger Reshu Mehrotra writes, “When a student dons a school uniform, he/she is ushered into an environment which encourages learning and teaches the value of harmony and equality among every classmate. In many countries uniforms are used to blend the students irrespective of their caste, color, creed and status. In a way, mandatory uniforms are beneficial because children are not condemned for their status nor face teasing over petty issues.”

Britain, an empire, which at one time ruled over most of the world is credited with initiating and proliferating policies that mandated school uniforms. “Uniforms were first worn by orphan children who represented the lower class, then slowly found its way to the [upper classes]” says Mehrotra. “The idea behind standardized dress started in Cambridge around the 16th century. Even though it was met with great opposition by students, school uniform gradually became a status symbol.”

The 1920s were the golden age of English school uniforms. Mehrotra says “A typical uniform had a blazer, shirt, short pants, knee socks, flat heeled shoes and a cap for boys. The boys wore caps decorated with school emblems and dark solid colored blazers. The boys also donned plain colored shirts with ties, belts and short pants. The girls on the other hand wore gymslips a form of dress, which had skirts embedded with shirts. The colors used for the dress were generally in darker shades. Girls, too, had to wear knee length socks and flat heeled shoes.”

Across the pond in America, school uniforms were the exclusive domain of elite private schools until public schools introduced their use as a way to stem violence among students fighting over expensive designer clothes, professional sports wear and athletic shoes. New school uniform guidelines and policies were implemented in 1979 by President Bill Clinton who wanted to stop gang warfare over clothing.

Statistically, reports indicate “only 25 percent of primary schools and around 10 percent of secondary schools in the United States have strictly implemented the uniform policy.”

Although policies requiring students to wear uniforms have not been widely adopted, there are basic dress codes coming into practice. In some public schools, boys must wear trousers, button down shirts, turtleneck, and sweaters; upper schools may require sports coats and ties. After years when students could wear almost anything to class, it is not unusual for girls to be required don skirts of a length determined by the school. Leggings may be allowed but with skirts; shoes with heels may be banned.

The jury is still out on whether school uniforms stem violence, eliminate distractions or level the playing field for students of various economic backgrounds. Clearly, clothing choice should not play a prominent role in grade school education. Yet, the reality says otherwise. The merit of school uniforms is “one of the most debated topics among parents and educators.” Some critics are adamant that uniforms have “no impact on the thought process of a student, nor does it considerably reduce inequality among the masses.” Countering that argument, proponents feel school uniforms and dress codes are an effective way to give students an early introduction to work environments, and re-enforce the discipline necessary to excel in academics.

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

Award-winning Annapolis native releases musical masterpiece

— Delray Richardson released his fifth album “Mahogany Masterpiece: The Return of Hip Hop” under his own label, Del-Funk-Boy Music Publishing on January 9, 2015. Richardson offers worldwide music fans a flavorful blend of memorable hip-hop songs.

(Courtesy Photos/Del-Funk-Boy-Music)

“Mahogany Masterpiece: The Return of Hip Hop” was released January 9, 2015.

“I like to call it authentic street corner hip-hop. It’s not like what’s out there today. This is one of those albums that will stick to your ribs,” Richardson said. “It’s five or six years in the making. I put my last record out in 2008. I like to live in between records so I’m not repetitive. I have a little more life under my belt.”

The independent music artist who moved from Maryland to California in 1994 now lives in Long Beach.

“Back then, it was always about trying to get a major deal with a record company. I met people who do music licensing and publishing, then I learned a little more about the business aspect of the music, so I kept doing my thing on my own and selling CDs. I make more money, minus the exposure and people calling you a star, behind the scenes. I like having royalty checks come in more than I wanted to be famous,” Richardson said.

Richardson reportedly turned down a six-figure record deal offered by a major record label, because he prefers to earn $8.89 from the sale of each record sold through CD Baby, instead of $0.12 from a major label. The business savvy artist who grew up in Robinwood— a public housing community— is now a prominent entrepreneur, songwriter, producer and singer. He once performed as “MC Delphonic” and sang in a go-go band as a lead singer of Those Boys. Richardson collaborated to produce mix tapes with a friend, Charles Ford (“Reds”), who had a studio in his basement at Harbor House Apartments. While reflecting on the old days of singing and rapping, during weekend performances at the Elks Club and The American Legion, Richardson notes a critical turning point in his teens.

“What I saw when I got locked up for selling drugs was that if I could survive there, I could survive anywhere,” Richardson said. “I was doing music all at the same time. The undercover police officer that I sold the drugs to, I also sold the tape. Buying one of my tapes was a requirement if you wanted to buy drugs. That was just the entrepreneur in me. I didn’t want to sell drugs, but that’s what we were doing at that time.”

Richardson has made remarkable strides since the days of selling $5 tapes in Annapolis. May 23, was proclaimed Delray Richardson Day in Annapolis by former Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer in 2008.

Along with Troy Stansbury, who founded a nonprofit called A Glimpse Of Paradise Inc., Richardson often visits juvenile institutions like Cheltenham Youth Facility to remind young people that they have alternatives, whenever he returns to Annapolis.

“We made it out. We always try to give back and never forget where we come from,” Richardson said.

Richardson met the late Tupac Shakur at Bowie State University. They later co-wrote “One Day at a Time,” which was redone by Eminem for the “Tupac: Resurrection” soundtrack. It was renamed Em’s version.

“What I think I’m most proud of is being named a co-writer next to some of the biggest names in hip-hop history like Melle Mel, Tupac, Eminem, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent and The Game. I am also proud of selling over a million records with Tupac and The Game for each album. These are the reasons I don’t really trip off of not being with a major label.”

Richardson plans to return to Annapolis, after local music fans have a chance to immerse themselves in his new music.

“What I always like to do is bring it home first. I’m going to have an official record release party on May 23,” Richardson said. “I think my new album is some of my best work. I think as you grow older, you get wiser. Therefore, you are able to contribute more, versus when you were younger, you didn’t know as much,” the 41-year-old said.

“Mahogany Masterpiece: The Return of Hip Hop” is available for purchase from CD Baby or iTunes. Visit and for updates. Listen to free samples of Richardson’s music via

California measles outbreak grows to 68 cases

The measles outbreak in California is growing.

The number of cases has increased to 68, with 48 of those cases linked to an outbreak at Disneyland, state health officials reported Friday.

Two days ago, the health department reported 59 cases, 42 with a Disney connection.

In addition, nine cases have been reported in Arizona, Utah, Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Mexico. A new case was reported in Nevada, but the Southern Nevada Health District said it’s unknown whether that case is Disney-related.

The disease outbreak apparently surfaced when visitors reported coming down with measles after visiting the park December 15-20. At least five Disney employees have been diagnosed with measles, Disney said.

Measles is a highly communicable respiratory disease caused by a virus and spread through the air, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat, the CDC said.

Dr. Gil Chavez, deputy director of the state’s Center for Infectious Diseases, recommended that children under 12 months and people who’ve never had a measles vaccination stay away from the park while the disease event continues.

He made the same recommendation for other places where large numbers of people congregate, such as airports and shopping malls.

However, Chavez said Disneyland would be “perfectly safe” if you’ve been immunized.

When asked for a comment, Suzi Brown of Disney media relations said, “We agree with Dr. Chavez’s comments that it is safe to visit Disneyland if you have been vaccinated.”

For the most part, measles spreads among those who have not been vaccinated against the virus.

The California Department of Public Health said Orange County had the most measles cases with 21, followed by San Diego County with 13.


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