Ravens 2015 NFL Draft Needs: Wide Receiver

— There has been a lot of talk about the Baltimore Ravens selecting a wide receiver with the 26th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. The Ravens have a pretty diverse group of wide receivers on the roster already. Steve Smith Sr. is a veteran that found success last season. Marlon Brown is a big receiver that is likely to flourish in new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman’s scheme. Additionally, Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanaro and Jeremy Butler are in the fold.

The one thing that they do lack is a serious vertical threat. The Ravens are well aware of the fact that rookie receivers are now coming into the league and being productive right away. Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta spoke about this at the Ravens pre-draft press conference.

“It seems like receivers in general have been contributing faster over the last couple years. Last year’s receiver class was outstanding. We want all our guys to contribute right away. Our goal is to bring guys in here that dress and play, and if we’re not doing that, we’re not doing a very good job.” DeCosta continued; “It is a good class. There a lot of different players, and we think we can get a good receiver in a lot of different rounds. Fortunately, there are some really talented guys, and hopefully we can get one.”

It is not mandatory for the Ravens to use their first round pick on a wide receiver. There are quite a few in the later rounds that could contribute. Here are five receivers that are very likely to be there for the Ravens if they were to use their first or second round picks to address the position:

Breshad Perriman WR Central Florida

Perriman is a vertical threat that has received quite a bit of attention after running the 4.25 at his pro day. He is a bigger receiver that will have to work on getting in and out of breaks quicker before he can run routes other than posts or nine routes.

Devin Smith WR Ohio State

Smith tracks the ball very well. He is more than just a vertical threat. He can run every route and can do so from over top of the numbers. Smith is a field stretcher and will open things up underneath.

Jaelen Strong WR Arizona State

Strong is a bigger receiver that would be a power slot option as well as a guy that can play on the outside. He would be a nice option running mid-range in breaking routes and using his body to create separation.

Dorial Green-Beckham WR Oklahoma

The Ravens have said that they did look into off the field situations with Green-Beckham. He is a big receiver that can instantly solve a team’s red zone scoring woes. At 6-5, he will win most jump ball situations and has the quickness to cross a defender’s face and get inside on slant routes.

Phillip Dorsett WR Miami

They say speed kills. Dorsett has plenty to boot. He would be primarily a slot receiver but would be a dangerous vertical threat from that position. Dorsett will gain yards after the catch and can be a reliable option on third downs.

Just missed the cut:

Tyler Lockett Kansas State

Nelson Agholor USC

Stefon Diggs Maryland

Kenny Bell Nebraska

Super Sleeper: Adrian Coxson Stonybrook, Dezmin Lewis Central Arkansas, Tre McBride William & Mary

Al Sharpton to Baltimore to organize march to Washington, D.C.

— Rev. Al Sharpton is headed to Baltimore this week to meet with community leaders and plan a march from that city to Washington, D.C. to ramp up pressure on federal officials to take action on racial bias in policing.

Sharpton announced his plans Monday as Baltimore erupted into chaos on the same day as the funeral for Freddie Gray, the young black man from Baltimore who died in police custody. As businesses were looted and police cars destroyed and set on fire, community leaders were quick to condemn the rioting as unproductive to their cause.

Sharpton, a civil rights activist who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, hopes to organize a two-day march from Baltimore to Washington in May.

“The march will bring the case of Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Eric Harris to the new Attorney General, Loretta Lynch. Ms. Lynch, in her new role that we all supported, must look and intervene in these cases,” Sharpton said in a press release. “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Lynch, the newly-minted attorney general, was sworn in Monday as the violence in Baltimore erupted.

Lynch on her first day met with President Barack Obama to discuss the Baltimore riots and in a statement Monday Lynch urged “every member of the Baltimore community to adhere to the principles of nonviolence” as the Justice Department’s investigation into Gray’s death continues.

“In the days ahead, I intend to work with leaders throughout Baltimore to ensure that we can protect the security and civil rights of all residents. And I will bring the full resources of the Department of Justice to bear in protecting those under threat, investigating wrongdoing, and securing an end to violence,” she said.

Lynch also dispatched two top officials to Baltimore to help city and state officials calm the situation.

Obama also spoke with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Monday and his senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, spoke with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

Sharpton has used his platforms as a radio and T.V. host to raise issues of police brutality and racial discrimination against black men in police forces around the country as high-profile deaths in Cleveland, New York and Ferguson, Missouri shook the nation.


™ & © 2015 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Will you spend your rent on weave?

— Special to the NNPA from The Miami Times

With the low-income levels of Black women living in Miami’s Upper East Side and the rise of the Black natural hair movement, some question the viability of the new, luxury hair extension boutique Indique that opened in the Miami Modern district last month.

Indique’s grand opening is April 11 and will have consultants available to talk about its high-end hair extensions.

Over the past five years, Black women in Miami have joined a national trend in wearing their hair free of chemicals and have reverted to afros, twists and braids.

But proponents of hair extensions say customers love the flexibility and versatility. For the Indique customer, it is a little more.

The Miami store will be the retailer’s 15th, where hair extensions are priced from $99 to $330 per four-ounce tube. To get a full head of hair extensions sewn in, a client would need to purchase two to three tubes, says Brooklyn, N.Y. boutique manager Laura Policastro.

“We tell our clients to consider it an investment. You might spend up to $800 on hair and you may say ‘That’s my rent’ but we guarantee that our hair lasts for up to one year if you take care of it,” said Policastro.


Sybil Jarrett has operated a hair salon in Miami Shores for the past 25 years and says the majority of her clients are Black women.

“My clients buy their weave from local beauty supply stores for between $10 and $20 a bundle,” said Jarrett, owner of D&D Unisex Salon, 8955 NE Sixth Ave. “Even though the more expensive brands last longer, a lot of my clients are looking for cheaper prices.”

She recalls her higher-end clients visiting Lugo’s Hair Center at 920 NW 119th St. where their hair color and texture would be matched and their custom extensions created on the spot. The location is now closed and these clients have resorted to ordering online.

While MiMo – the district between Northeast 50th and 77th streets – has experienced vast expansion since 2007, with a plethora of swanky restaurants, modern commercial buildings and a collection of renovated motels cropping up, the income levels of Black residents living nearby may not allow for such an investment.

But Indique is banking on these customers since, according to publicist for Indique’s Miami launch Tina-Gaye Bernard, Black women make up 95 percent of Indique’s clientele.

In the bordering Little River neighborhood, the median income is $19,344, according to Realtor.com. The average rental rate for a one-bedroom apartment within the store’s 33138 zip code ranges from $700 to $1,451. Lemon City, which houses Little Haiti, has an income lower than 94.3 percent of U.S. neighborhoods, according to NeighborhoodScout.com. Both Little River and Lemon City are heavily populated by Black residents.

Nevertheless, there are some affluent neighborhoods close to the district such as Belle Meade to the east, Bayside to the south and its stone’s throw neighbor to the north – Miami Shores. Miami Shores, which as of the 2010 U.S. Census had a Black population of 23.8 percent, has a median household income of $81,696.

Indique strategically chose to open a new location in the area because of Miami-Dade county’s large Black population and chose the MiMo district for its trendy feel.

Ravens 2015 NFL Draft Needs: Cornerback

— The Baltimore Ravens experienced quite an interesting phenomenon last season when it comes to the corner-back position. Injuries plagued the position at an alarming rate. They recently reached an extension with Jimmy Smith that will ensure that one of the best young corners is around for years to come. Veteran corner Lardarius Webb agreed to reduce his salary to stay around as well. Webb battled a back injury for most of the season while Smith suffered a season ending foot injury. Asa Jackson is currently the top nickel corner; he is also coming off of a season ending injury.

The uncertainty at the position leads many to believe that the Ravens will address the corner-back position with their first selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. The team has said that they have looked closely at the position and that they like this year’s group of corners. There are particular things that the Ravens look for in corners but they do understand that those traits come in a range of sizes and styles.

Assistant general manager Eric Decosta spoke a couple of weeks ago at a pre-draft press conference. “We’ve looked at the corners, and we think it is a pretty good class. They come in all different shapes and sizes some guys play inside, some guys can do both. Some guys are big, some guys are small, some guys are fast, some guys are good with their hands.” DeCosta continued; “You want guys that are tough, you want guys that have ball skills, and you want to know what they can do for you. We want guys that bring something to the table for us in Baltimore, and they’ve got to be fast, they’ve got to be tough, they’ve got to be coach-able, smart, tough, disciplined and durable. Those [traits] are really what we look for.”

There have been many prospects tied to the Ravens throughout the draft season. Michigan State corner Trae Waynes is likely to be gone by the time the Ravens select. Here are the top five corner-back prospects that are likely to be available when the Ravens use the 26th selection:

  1. Marcus Peters Washington

Peters is the best press corner in this draft class. He is an excellent fit for the Ravens man scheme.

  1. Kevin Johnson Wake Forest

The local product is another outstanding press corner. He has excellent movement ability and is a tenacious defender.

  1. Jalen Collins LSU

Collins is more of a project but has the height, weight and speed that makes him a desirable project. He has limited starts at LSU but showed flashed.

  1. Eric Rowe Utah

Rowe is another long prospect. He showed surprising athleticism at the Combine. The former safety has said that he prefers to play corner because of his fondness for press coverage.

  1. P.J. Willliams Florida State

Williams faced his share of top receivers at Florida State and was asked to play press coverage against all of them. Before the 2015 season, he was one of the top corners in college football.

Just missed the cut:

Steven Nelson Oregon State

Ronald Darby FSU

Byron Jones Connecticut

Super Sleeper:

DeVante Bausby Pittsburgh State

Freddie Gray funeral draws White House officials, Eric Garner’s family

— Freddie Gray will be laid to rest Monday before the country even knows what really happened to him.

It’s been 15 days since Baltimore police arrested Gray who they said had a switchblade. His lawyer said it was a legal pocket knife.

Fifteen days have passed since Gray was taken into a police van and suffered a fatal spinal cord injury. Eight days since he died, spurring a flurry of protests and questions about what went wrong while he was in police custody.

As Gray’s loved ones gather for his funeral Monday morning, they will be joined by several White House officials and relatives of others who died under questionable circumstances.

A group called Families United for Justice will be on hand to support Gray’s family. The group includes relatives of Eric Garner, who died last July after a New York City police officer put him in a chokehold. Protests erupted after a grand jury declined to indict that officer.

Other members include relatives of Amadou Diallo, who was fatally shot by New York police officers, and Alberta Spruill, who died of a heart attack when police mistakenly threw a stun grenade into her apartment.

The White House is sending its own delegation to Gray’s funeral: Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, chair of the Obama administration’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force; Heather Foster, an adviser in the White House Office of Public Engagement; and Elias Alcantara with the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Exactly what happened to Gray remains a mystery. His family said his voice box was crushed and his neck snapped before he slipped into a coma and died.

News of Gray’s smashed upper spine and officers’ delay in getting him medical care has triggered outrage.

Peaceful protests marred

Hundreds of protesters peacefully rallied against police and Gray’s death on the streets of Baltimore Saturday. But but a small group turned rough.

About a dozen young men smashed police vehicles with garbage cans, climbed on top of the cars and stomped on them.

Some hurled water bottles and other objects at police.

Others funneled their anger toward local businesses, looting or damaging a 7-Eleven, a Michael Kors store and a Subway restaurant.

Baltimore police arrested 35 people, including four juveniles. Six officers suffered minor injuries during the chaos, which ended a week of civil and peaceful protests.

Gray’s twin sister deplored the violence.

“My family wants to say, ‘Can y’all please, please stop the violence,'” Fredericka Gray said Saturday night. “Freddie Gray would not want this.”

Journalists detained by police

Baltimore City Paper said its photo editor, J.M. Giordano, was tackled and beaten by police while covering the protests.

According to the paper, Giordano was standing near protesters when someone threw a rock at police. The police responded, and Giordano was unable to get out of the way.

“They just swarmed over me,” he said. “I got hit. My head hit the ground. They were hitting me, then someone pulled me out.”

The incident was caught on video, which Baltimore City Paper posted online.

And Reuters photographer Sait Serkan Gurbuz said Baltimore police detained him Saturday night.

The police called the detention of the two journalists inadvertent.

“One journalist (Gurbuz) was released with a criminal citation, which is being recalled,” a police statement said. “One journalist (Giordano) was released without any charges.”

The investigation

Police have exchanged criticism among themselves over Gray’s treatment and the investigation.

Cell phone video of Gray’s arrest shows him screaming and being dragged, with some witnesses saying he looked like his leg was injured.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said he was appalled that Gray did not receive proper care immediately. He also said officers should have given Gray timely medical care “multiple times” — such as at the site of the arrest and at other times during his transport to the police station.

Batts also said there are no excuses for the fact that Gray was not buckled into the transport van.

But the Fraternal Order of Police shot back.

“These comments appear to be politically driven and in direct contrast to the commissioner’s own request not to jump to any conclusions until the entire investigation is complete,” union president Gene Ryan said in a written statement.

Police say five of the six officers involved in the arrest have provided statements to investigators, Batts said. The sixth officer has invoked his right to refuse to answer questions.

And while the preliminary work on Gray’s autopsy has been completed, the medical examiner’s office is waiting on toxicology results and might ask spinal experts to look at the case, authorities said. A full report could take 30 to 45 days.

Holly Yan reported and wrote from Atlanta; Miguel Marquez reported from Baltimore. CNN’s Ben Brumfield, Betsy Klein and Vivian Kuo contributed to this report.


™ & © 2015 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Life of black man displayed in zoo matters, too

— An ordinary Internet search on Ota Benga yields black-and-white photos of a petite Black man, almost naked, smiling with a row of spiky teeth. Some accounts say he achieved fame in the early 1900s as part of controversial human zoo exhibitions in the United States.


(Courtesy photo)

Author Pamela Newkirk

But a look below the surface reveals a true tale of extreme racism, cruelty, and widespread collusion in the kidnapping and dehumanization of a man.

This is the meat of Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga, a shocking historical biography of Benga’s experience as a museum attraction – most notably as “the pygmy at the [Bronx] Zoo,” on display in an enclosure with an orangutan between 1906 and 1910. Benga was later relocated to Lynchburg, Va, where he committed suicide at the age of 32.

Due on book stands in June, the historical biography retraces Benga’s journey using primary sources such as published articles, museum archives, and first-person writings from Samuel Phillips Verner, the man who abducted Benga and brought him across the Atlantic.

“So much of what I read in the archives was so chilling,” says Pamela Newkirk, journalist and author of the book. “And I guess the thing that surprised me to was the extent to which the statements of elite and institutions go unquestioned. For more than a hundred years, the story of Ota Benga was told by the same people who exploited him, and that narrative has stuck all of this time.”

Currently, Ota Benga: The Pygmy in the Zoo, published in 1993, is the book of record for learning more about Benga’s life and death. It tells the story of Verner’s exploits as a missionary in the Congo, his fascination with the racist scientific theories of the day, and his guilt over his treatment of Benga, all culminating in a tenuous friendship between Benga and Verner. This book’s co-author is Verner’s grandson, who died in 2013.

As Newkirk gathered primary sources, she was surprised to find so many news articles, scholarly studies, and first-person accounts, written in real-time as Benga’s life unfolded. And despite clear evidence, some academics were reluctant to have the narrative disturbed.

“There were some institutions that were not as forthcoming as one would hope,” she says. “But I did find a lot more than I ever thought I would. Even if one institution had withheld information, there was a lot more, so I wasn’t overly reliant on one place.”

In reading, she began to understand why some sources seemed so guarded.

“One of the main things I found is that he was hunted, like one would hunt an animal,” Newkirk says, referencing an article Verner had written about his method for capturing the people derogatorily called pygmies. “He was in no way complicit in his exhibition, and he resisted being there. Stories have been told as if he was a happy subject of that degradation.”

According to Newkirk’s research, scientists and anthropology pioneers were among the first and loudest to defend and justify Benga’s confinement. Newkirk explains that the theme of the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in 1904 – also known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, the first place Benga was held captive – was human advancement. Many indigenous people from around the world were kidnapped or coerced into performing in exhibits depicting man’s progress from “savage” settlements to the “civilized” White Western world.

“It was all predicated on notions of science and anthropology. When The New York Times defended the [Bronx Zoo] exhibition, they defended it in the name of science,” she explains. “There were questions of whether or not he was human, whether he was The Missing Link. It was the most eminent men of New York City who defended and supported this exhibition.”

Newkirk, who is also the director of undergraduate studies at New York University, where she teaches about media representation of marginalized groups, draws parallels between the racist beliefs that enabled what happened to Benga, and today’s racial climate.

She says, “The refrain of ‘Black lives matter’ rings in your ear when you see what people are capable of doing. They said that the African is so close to the ape…. When you look at what was considered ‘educated’ and ‘modern’ and ‘advanced,’ those were the views that were considered progressive in that period.

“This is so deeply rooted in American society – this idea that Black people…are animals. My book is historical…but I leave it to others to see how deeply embedded these ideas are and how they became…the foundation for policy.”

Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga goes on sale June 2. Pre-orders are available now through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Newkirk hopes that her book is instrumental in correcting the historical record of Benga’s life in the United States.

“The most important thing for me is to correct the historical record. It’s just such an insult that the man who’s most responsible for exploiting him has been depicted as his friend and savior for a hundred years,” she says.

“[Benga’s] life was worthy of this kind of exploration, because Black lives do matter. I think we owe that to Ota Benga.”

Bats Quiet in 7-1 Loss

— The Baysox could not keep Akron away from the big inning throughout. The RubberDucks scored four runs with two down in the eighth inning and Bowie dropped a third straight game in Akron, 7-1.

Bowie starter Elih Villanueva was able to minimize the damage throughout his start. Akron scored a solo run in the first, second and fifth innings but had a chance for more with a runner at third base and less than two down in all three frames. Each time Villanueva held Akron to just the one run scored. But the Baysox could not use that to their advantage.

The Baysox scored their lone run in the third inning. SS Ozzie Martinez singled and reached second on a walk to CF Glynn Davis with one down. 2B Garabez Rosa hit a groundball off of Ducks 3B Yandy Diaz to load the bases. With just one down, 1B Sean Halton got into one, lifting a deep fly to left field. The sacrifice fly was caught in front of the track and Martinez scored. A groundout following ended the inning from 3B Jason Esposito.

Bowie could not scratch across another run. The Baysox scored just seven runs in the four-game series in Akron.

In the eighth inning, Akron finally got the big inning. With a run in and the bases loaded and two outs, RF Jordan Smith cleared the bases with a double to left-center field and Akron’s lead swelled to 7-1.

The Baysox will look to end a three-game slide Monday, April 27th with RHP Parker Bridwell on the bump in Erie. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. from Jerry Uht Park in Erie, PA. Listen on 1430wnav.com or via the Tune-In Radio Free Application. Erie has lost six in a row entering the series.

Bowie returns home for a weekend series with the Washington Nationals Affiliate the Harrisburg Senators starting Friday, May 1st at 6:35 p.m. Get your tickets over the phone at 301-805-6000 or online at baysox.com.

Tips to Stay in Touch with Your Spiritual Side

— (StatePoint) While there are many differences between the major world religions, there are just as many similarities. Fostering a conversation about religion and incorporating spirituality into your life can benefit you and your family, believe experts.

“Finding common ground in the various religious scriptures, history and spiritual practices can help us reach peaceful solutions to social issues,” says author Star Chang, whose new book, “Coming Home: A Spiritual and Religious Dialogue,” explores diverse religious teachings.

Chang is offering spiritual practices to incorporate into your everyday life, regardless of your faith.  

• The goals of the major world religions are similar; however the ways of achieving them can differ. For example, many religions practice “love” to achieve their goals. Everything you do, do it with love.

• While faith is difficult to prove with the advancements of modern science, it is a trust in something greater. Have faith in what you’re doing, even if all the signs aren’t clear.

• The goal of the sciences is to find the ultimate truth, which is what the major world religions are also seeking. Scientists attain this goal by using external tools, while religion draws upon an internal force. Put both to good use to tackle your goals.

• Human beings consist of three parts — mind, body and spirit. The spirit is the lead, the mind is in-between and the body is the follower. Confusion will arise if the mind or the body becomes the lead. Check in with your spirit often.

• Tolerance is a practice that comes from the heart. Make sure your heart is light and free of judgment.

• If there is negativity underlying your actions, the good you do will not be felt. To do the most good you can, find balance and come from a place of positivity.

• Many major religions emphasize having a good heart, sound thought and good behavior as universal virtues. Help others with these three principles in mind.

• Be kind to all people and beings without discrimination. These teachings are abundant in many world religions, and were as true thousands of years ago as they are today.

• Get an innocuous conversation started amongst family members and friends. A spiritual text, such as “Coming Home,” can make a great gift for someone moving on to the next life stage, such as a high school or college graduate; and can be a helpful way to revisit world religions and spiritual concepts. More information can be found at www.BookComingHome.com.

In our modern society, it can easy to lose touch with your spirituality. But exploring this side of yourself can help you have a deeper appreciation and broader understanding of other cultures and systems of belief.