BET Awards: What you may have missed

The past was a present at Sunday night’s BET Awards.

From Janet Jackson to Smokey Robinson, it was throwback time Sunday in Los Angeles at one of R&B and hip-hop’s biggest nights. And of course, the memes from the evening were out of control.

Here’s what you may have missed.

Bad Boy reunites

Through all of his iterations from Puff Daddy to Diddy, producer/rapper/entrepreneur Sean Combs always did know how to make great music. And he reminded us of that Sunday night when he took to the stage with some of his Bad Boy artists past and present to remind us of why we miss the late ’90s.

Diddy was joined by 112, Lil’ Kim, Faith Evans, Ma$e, Pharrell Williams and French Montana for a medley of hits.

While we question why girl group Total wasn’t in the house, we can’t be too mad at Diddy, given his unfortunate fall through the stage, which sent the Internet into a creative frenzy.

At least Diddy had a sense of humor about it, taking to social media to say, “I was getting so loose I fell! LOL, but really though I busted my a!”

Janet Jackson honored

Take note, ladies: You can cover up and still look flawless.

That’s what Ms. Jackson (if you’re nasty) did when she showed up to receive the Ultimate Icon Award. The 49-year-old superstar was looking ridiculously gorgeous in a white pantsuit.

She took to the stage after singers Tinashe, Jason Derulo and Ciara paid tribute in dance to some of Jackson’s most beloved music videos.

The singer — who is back on the scene with an upcoming album and concert tour — thanked her parents and her longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who presented her with the award.

“Twenty-five years ago, we created Rhythm Nation hoping the world would be a better place, but today there is even more to be done,” Jackson said. “Last but not least to my loving husband and to all the fans, I’ve missed you so much, and I love you so much. Thank you! Thank you, BET.”

Smokey Robinson’s words of wisdom

The legendary singer-songwriter was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award after singers Tori Kelly, Ne-Yo and Robin Thicke paid tribute with some of his songs. Robinson, 75, used his speech as an opportunity to let the youngsters in the industry know that a little humility goes a long way.

“You didn’t start this,” he said. “You were not the first in line. The line started way, way, way, way, way before your great, great, great-grandparents were born. Also, you are not the end of the line. So don’t be so full of yourselves.”

Preach, Smokey!

And lest they forget, Robinson got the crowd jamming by singing a few of his hits just to remind them that he still has it.

Ummm, hello, Nicki Minaj?

It’s hard to keep up when you’re performing, winning awards and snuggling with your rapper boo, Meek Mill.

Nicki Minaj apparently came onstage to receive an award without knowing which award it was and had to ask when she got to the microphone.

“I’m sorry. Oh! Viewers Choice! Oh, my God, y’all, thank you,” the rapstress said. “I was in the back! Oh, y’all. My fans. You all know how much I need and want you.”

Of course Twitter had some fun with the flub.

Rihanna’s antics

Early on in the show, Rihanna was sitting front and center with a roll of silver duct tape, so we knew it was going to be an interesting evening for her.

The camera panned over a few times to show her getting her party on (including during a performance of her now notoriously former boyfriend Chris Brown) but it was what she did backstage that had fans scratching their heads.

Cameras “caught her” seconds before coming on stage asking “But why?” and throwing a stack of money in BET executive Stephen Hill’s face.

Fear not, as it all appears to have been pre-arranged. After all, Rihanna does have a single called “Bch Better Have My Money.” She Instagrammed a pic of her kissing Hill on the cheek afterward.

Coppin State’s Epps wins triple jump at USATF national championships

— A confident and consistent Epps treated the overflow crowd to an enthralling performance by soaring a career best 14.09 meters (46 feet, 2.75 inches) to win the triple jump at the USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field Friday night.

“It actually hasn’t sunk in yet,” Epps said. “It feels so unreal. I was going through my victory lap yesterday like I can’t believe this is happening right now. I am extremely humbled and honored.”

Epps is the best triple jumper in the United States of America. How amazing is that?

Epps, who competes for the adidas Garden State Track Club, hit her 46-2 3/4 mark on her first attempt and it stood up as the best performance of the competition. April Sinkler was second in the TJ with a 45-4 1/2.

“I feel like I am peaking at the perfect time of the season,” Epps said. “I felt great today. I think I held my hop and step extremely well today and that’s what led to my personal best for the year. I also moved off of the board well going into my jumps.”

With her victory, Epps moved one step closer to earning a sacred spot on the 2015 IAAF World Championships team set for August 22-30 in Beijing, China. She needs to clear 14.20 meters in order to officially earn a trip to China. Fortunately for Epps, her performance on Friday earned her another opportunity to reach that destination.

Epps will compete in the 2015 Pan-American games in Toronto next month. The triple jump will be held on Tuesday, July 21 at 6:00 p.m. according to the schedule. For Epps, this was the ultimate triumph in an amazing and excellent career.

“I am blessed to have another opportunity to hit the mark I need for world championships,” Epps said. “This will be my first international competition, so I am excited about that.”

Earlier this year, Epps won the triple jump at the Penn Relays and the Morgan State Legacy Meet. She jumped her previous career best of 13.83 meters at the Legacy Meet. Epps credited the energy and enthusiasm of the large crowd for providing the necessary fuel for her best performance of her life.

“The crowd here gives so much support and love to everyone,” Epps said. “Every event here is amazing. The atmosphere is something you can’t beat. When you walk into the stadium, it feels like you’re at the Super Bowl. The weather was hot and it worked out great for a lot of competitors because there were tons of PRs today.”

Epps was named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Woman of the Year and one of the 30 finalists for the 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year Award. During her star-studded career, Epps was an 12-time All-MEAC student-athlete in track and field and 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).

Epps was selected as the Coppin State Female Presidents’ Eagle Award Winner, Female Athlete of the Year and MVP in track and field for the 2013-14 season. She served as team captain from 2012-2014 and was the SAAC President from 2013-2014.

While Epps put in hours of countless work in all types of weather conditions, made sacrifices and pushed her body beyond limits she didn’t think was possible, she knows that the support of plenty of people behind the scenes made this moment possible.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ,” Epps said. “Without him I would have none of this. My supporting cast has been amazing. My coach (Alecia Shields-Gadson) who pushed me to the next level mainly by being my sport psychologist and getting me to believe in myself like she believed in me has been nothing but a huge blessing. She is a huge part of my success and I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. She’s the coach of the year in my book.

“My mom Beverly Epps-Blackwell is a God-fearing woman who always instilled in me to put God first and your blessings will overflow. Her constant support and prayers and support has made this process worthwhile. My weight room and plyo coaches Nick and Toya pushed me everyday even when I complained about my how my body was hurting and I didn’t want to go anymore. They have helped improve my strength and overall explosiveness in ways you wouldn’t believe especially after an ACL tear. I am extremely grateful to have them.

“My boyfriend Emeka Chiazor has always been there for me. Days I cried and felt like giving up, he wouldn’t baby me. The days I needed someone to come out and help me take out the pit or record me or take me to meets, he has always been there. My supporting cast helped make this dream come true.”

Shields-Gadson was happy to witness Epps take her performance to another level.

“We are so proud of the hard work and dedication Christina has put into her craft to become a national champion,” Shields-Gadson said. “We give all glory to God for helping her performance tonight.”

Doubleheader Well Worth The Wait

— After two consecutive rainouts, the Baysox went to work, sweeping a doubleheader in Erie on Monday evening at Jerry Uht Park. Bowie grabbed the opener after trailing early 6-3 before hanging onto a 2-1 win in the night cap.

In game one, Erie scored three runs on four hits in the first inning. Bowie then went to work. In the third inning with two on and two down, SS Ozzie Martinez grounded a double inside the first base bag down the line to score two runs. Then in the fourth inning it was LF Quincy Latimore. He lined a 1-0 fastball for a two-run double with two down to give Bowie the lead. The Baysox added two unearned runs in the seventh to lead 6-3.

Starter Elih Villanueva did not allow a hit after the rocky first inning. His complete game win was his third complete game in his last four starts.

In Game Two, the Baysox grabbed the lead early and hung on. In the second inning, 1B Brandon Snyder homered over the yellow line off of the hockey arena in left field. It was for Snyder his third home run in six games and his seventh of the year.

Bowie added a big insurance run in the third inning when 2B Corban Joseph doubled home LF Tucker Nathans. The Baysox would have a runner in scoring position in each of the last four innings but failed to score.

Starter Ashur Tolliver worked two scoreless innings before giving way to Richard Rodriguez who made his Orioles organizational debut. He allowed a run in two innings but left with the lead intact. Mychal Givens (4-1) gave Bowie two shutout frames before closer Andrew Triggs worked through a leadoff walk to put a close on a 2-1 win.

Bowie now heads to Akron with a 2.5 game lead in the division Tuesday, June 30th at 7:05 p.m. Coverage will begin 20-minutes prior on and the Tune-In Radio App by searching Bowie Baysox. LHP Tim Berry gets the series opening start.

The Baysox return home for a Fireworks Extravaganza on Saturday, July 4th as the Erie SeaWolves come to Prince George’s Stadium. Be a part of the best Fireworks Show of the Season! Get tickets via phone at 301-805-6000 or online at

Facebook rainbow profiles used by 26 million

— Rainbows spread quickly all over Facebook this weekend to celebrate the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

Over the past three days, 26 million people have super imposed rainbows over their Facebook profile pictures using a free tool provided by the company. The rainbow filter launched Friday and continued to gain steam over Pride weekend, garnering more than half a billion likes and comments all over the world.

Famous people including Russell Simmons, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff changed their profiles.

The tool was created by two Facebook interns during an internal hackathon last week.

Changing a profile picture is easily dismissed as low-effort activism. But for many people who are not typically political it was a way to quietly show support.

Facebook has long been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights. But many activists are still upset about the company’s real-names policy that requires people use an “authentic” name that they can prove they’re known by in the real world. Drag queens, sex workers, abuse survivors and Native Americans all say the policy discriminates against them.

In the US alone, more than 6 million people have identified as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender or gender non-conforming on the social network.


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

Farm-to-Table finds bring the freshness home

— Wonderful food, worthy to be shared with family, begins with only the finest, most wholesome ingredients. Bring the farm fresh flavor to any meal, any time of day. From delightful snacks to appetizing bites and satisfying entrees, these recipes capture the flavors only nature can create.

Tasty Bites

Perfect for gatherings or just a delicious weeknight nosh, this crostini recipe features potatoes, a nutritional powerhouse for any meal. For recipes and more, visit

Roasted Potato Crostini with Pesto Cheese

Servings: 8

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes

Non-stick cooking spray

1/3 pound (4 medium) Wisconsin Red or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

3/4 cup (6 ounces) soft cream cheese

1/4 cup prepared pesto

1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper sauce (optional)

1/4 cup finely chopped prepared roasted red peppers

Snipped fresh chives or minced green onion (optional)

Heat oven to 400°F. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. On baking sheet, arrange potatoes in single layer; spray lightly with additional cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt.

Roast 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are tender and browned, turning potatoes over halfway and sprinkling with remaining garlic salt.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix together cream cheese, pesto and red pepper sauce, if desired. Pipe or spoon about 2 teaspoons pesto mixture onto each potato; top with red pepper. Sprinkle with chives, if desired.

Nutritional information per serving: 157 calories; 10 g fat; 4 g protein; 2 g fiber; 10 g cholesterol; 285 mg sodium.

Create Your Own Popcorn Snack

Popcorn is a true farm-to-table snack because it’s a seed taken from the husk, dried, then popped. Delicious hot from the popper, popcorn is also easy to flavor with just about any seasonings you have on hand. Whether you want a pinch of sugar and cinnamon, garlic powder and oregano, or parmesan cheese and rosemary – the options are limitless. For recipes and more, visit

Glazed Lemon and Poppy Seed Popcorn

Yield: 4 quarts

4 quarts unbuttered and unsalted popcorn (air popped)

1 egg white

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Heat oven to 300°F. Line large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (or foil sprayed with cooking spray). Spread popcorn onto prepared baking sheet.

In small bowl, whisk together egg white, sugar, salt and lemon extract until foamy. Mix in lemon zest and poppy seeds. Pour over popcorn and toss to coat evenly.

Bake 20 minutes, stirring once midway through baking time. Cool completely before storing in airtight container.

Note: The use of egg white helps flavors adhere to popcorn, without adding fat through more traditional use of oils.

Quite the Catch

Whether you catch it, grow it or buy it at the store, there are more ways than ever to eat Alaska. For more recipes, visit

Bear Tooth Alaska Cod Tacos

Recipe provided by Chef Natalie Janicka, Bear Tooth Grill, Anchorage, Alaska

Servings: 4

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

4 ounces hefeweizen beer

12 ounces Colorado sauce (store-bought red chile sauce or red enchilada sauce)

4 wild Alaska cod fillets (4 ounces each)

8 flour or corn tortillas (6-inch)

1 1/2-2 cups cooked mixed beans (pinto and black), seasoned to taste

Chopped romaine lettuce

Sliced radishes

Sour cream



Tortilla chips, for serving

Combine beer and sauce in large pan. Add cod and coat fish all over with marinade. Marinate 10-15 minutes.

Heat boiler to high. Remove fish from marinade, drain thoroughly and place fish on foil-lined baking sheet or broiler pan.

How do you handle life’s detours?

— The loss of a job; a bad break-up; a nasty accident; a new, obsessive habit; a big move to a new town; health problems experienced by you or a loved one – these are some of the many things that can turn your life upside down. These are life’s detours that you don’t expect.

Could there be a good way to respond to such turns in life? Is it honest to “look on the bright side?” Isn’t the root feeling hurt?

“I don’t think most people could ask you to deny your feelings, but you don’t have to be led by the nose by feelings, which have a primary characteristic of being temporary,” says Steve Gilliland (, a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame and author of the recently released “Detour,” the follow-up to his widely acclaimed “Enjoy The Ride.”

“Life is change— it’s axiomatic. Most of us accept this on an intellectual, abstract basis. But when it comes to experiencing change, we often resist it. Fear of change causes immense yet unnecessary suffering. Personal growth and maturity are based largely on how you respond to life’s unexpected detours.”

Gilliland summarizes a few basic steps to dealing with life’s detours:

•Ask yourself about opportunity. We don’t like most of life’s detours because they force us out of our comfort zone. New duties at work or a request from a spouse may not only pique our defenses but also make us wonder, “Can I do this?” Fear and anxiety may push us to focus on our weaknesses and convince us of what we cannot do. When we make a simple shift in mentality, however, we can empower the beginning of personal growth by seeing unprecedented challenges as opportunities.

•Are you willing to change? If not, then you can’t see opportunity. Change is inevitable, growth is optional. If your wife asks you for a more patient attitude, for example, will you grow with an open heart or dig your heels in. She may not divorce you if you remain stubborn, but your relationship will likely flounder. Seeing a challenge as an opportunity enables self-improvement. And, when it’s time to ask something of your wife, you will have currency with which to work. The same principle applies to work. If you’re asked to take on a new responsibility and respond well, you will gain leverage in your career.

•Can you envision something better? In the process of internally negotiating change, a positive vision can help you tilt the scales of change as something positive. The vision can be specific. If you don’t know how to use software at work that you need to use, imagine how much better your time will be spent once you learn. What will it take to get there? Practice. It may not be effortless, but you’ll have mapped out a solution. The vision can be broad, too. Is it possible to be more patient in general toward life’s detours? Indeed. Simply having more patience toward loved ones, for example, will improve your relationships tremendously.

A member of the National Speaker Association’s Speaker Hall of Fame, Steve Gilliland is one of the most in-demand and top-rated speakers in the world. Recognized by his peers as a master storyteller and brilliant comedian, he can be heard daily alongside Jeff Foxworthy and other celebrities on SiriusXM Radio’s Laugh USA and Blue Collar Radio. For more information, visit:

I love the thought of leaving Baltimore, but it’s finally starting to feel like home

— For the past two years, I have been counting down the days until I am free. Ever since my brother had a gun pointed at his face while sitting at a bus stop, I have tried to picture a place where I will feel safe. I have dreamed about what that place would look like.

I am going to college soon, and lately, college is all I can think about. It is all I can talk about. It occupies every thought in my mind. It is not that I love the thought of college. Rather, I love the thought of leaving Baltimore.

Witnessing what has happened in Baltimore is heartbreaking. Before Baltimore, I lived as a refugee in Uganda, and I spent my days and nights longing for the day when I would be able to leave for the United States. Before Uganda, I lived in Bukavu, in the eastern part of Congo, and when war broke out, I spent my days and nights longing for the day I would leave for Uganda.

And here I am again, with a feeling of deja vu. Longing. Longing for the day I will leave Baltimore for college. Except this time, something feels different. I do not know how or why, but during the past couple of weeks, I have realized that I have formed a relationship with Baltimore. Maybe it is because I am tired of running, or maybe it is because I grew and matured here, but it is happening. And it feels strange and unusual.

As a refugee living in Baltimore, I must accept the fact that there is simply nowhere else to go.

Everywhere I go, I will be black. Perhaps somewhere in the world I will be accepted. I have heard Dubai is full of wealth and is a “land of immigrants.” London and Paris and Tokyo and Berlin sound lovely.

But I will still be black.

When I left Uganda for the United States, I was searching for the American Dream. I was promised an equal opportunity to achieve success through hard work, determination and initiative. I had no idea that this would be largely impossible because of the color of my skin. I still boil with anger when asked to fill in on various paperwork my race because it reminds me of the discrimination and stereotypes that have destroyed my belief in the American Dream.

In the future, I picture myself leading a large company or organization, but part of me feels as if this is impossible in a white man’s country. As I prepare to attend the University of Maryland, I think of what a career in the mining business would look like. I had an uncle who worked in mining in Congo, and I know that I would be able to make good money and leave the United States.

Must I really leave this country to truly find success and prosperity?

In Uganda, I did not have food, and my mother, who raised me on her own, did not have enough money to pay for me to go to school. She could not find work, and I hated every second I spent in that country. But my mother always provided for me, and she always made sure that I felt safe. I cannot say the same about my life in Baltimore. I was the lowest-level citizen one could find in Uganda; here, in the “Land of Opportunity,” I feel even lower. But I am tired of running.

It is time I stayed in one place and learned to challenge and confront the issues that make me want to leave. I will go to college, but I will come back to Baltimore. I will fight for my rights and for the rights of my friends, classmates and family members, many of whom very easily could have ended up like Freddie Gray. I will protest, find my voice and find my people. And when I fall asleep at night to the sound of helicopters flying overhead, I will no longer dream of running. I will dream of staying. I will dream of fighting to make a difference. I will dream of how amazing it will feel when I finally find a place where I belong.

The writer is a senior at Digital Harbor High School. This fall, he will study business at the University of Maryland.

Kanye West gets ‘Kanye’d’ by onstage heckler at Glastonbury

— Now Kanye West knows how it feels to get upstaged, even if just for a few seconds.

A heckler invaded the stage Saturday night during West’s opening song at Glastonbury Festival.

It’s no secret that more than a few people were unhappy with the decision to make the American rapper the headlining act of the five-day British music festival. At least 15,000 signed a petition to cancel his slot.

When the petition went nowhere, British comedian Lee Nelson — whose real name is Simon Brodkin — took matters into his own hands. Wearing a shirt that said “Lee-Zus,” a parody of West’s nickname and self-titled album “Yeezus,” Nelson bounced across stage with a working microphone in hand.

He made it a few seconds before a guard pulled him offstage. West reportedly tried to continue before halting “Black Skinhead” and restarting, going on to perform a 30-song set.

Nelson claimed credit for the stunt on Twitter, boasting that he “Kanye’d Kanye,” a reference to all the times West has interrupted someone onstage — specifically, that time he interrupted Taylor Swift at the Video Music Awards.

“Some people were saying Kanye shouldn’t headline Glastonbury so I thought I’d give him a hand,” Nelson tweeted. “I Kanye’d Kanye. That was for you @taylorswift13.”

High-profile pranks are Nelson’s thing. He made his way into a photograph with England’s football team before last year’s World Cup in Brazil.


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

NBC and GOP, dump Trump for his Mexico insults

— When Donald Trump began his historic quest for the Republican presidential nomination, he said: “When do we beat Mexico at the border? They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they are beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me. … When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They are bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

The mainstream majority laughed off the bully’s harsh rhetoric and hardly noticed the world stage humiliation of Mexican Americans and their brethren Latinos. Despite all the “outreach” and reform talk by the GOP, it only took a few seconds for Latinos to once again become the Republican Party’s favorite punching bag.

Where was the reaction from the chair of the Republican National Committee, the Republican presidential contenders or Republican congressional or state leaders? A loud and public shaming of 54 million Latinos in the United States had occurred, but apparently, neither the GOP leadership nor the national media had completely understood the depth of the insult. It has been indelibly etched in the consciousness of U.S. Latinos, however, and in that of our “good” neighbors across our southern border. The irreparable damage has been done.

Following Trump’s presidential bid announcement last week, a groundswell of Latino reaction to his blanket character defamation began bubbling up online and on social media. Trump’s repugnant charges were heard loud and clear, and Latino voters were outraged and incensed at both his audacity and the outright lies. But the Latino community has also been deeply frustrated, not only by the depth of the insult but by the media’s inadequate interpretation of Trump’s remarks.

Multi-generational Latinos who count Mexico as their heritage homeland have reached a tipping point and will no longer accept being a scapegoat for all America’s woes. Univision understood the Latino dynamic and recognized its moral imperative to respond as a U. S. corporate citizen by standing up for the honor and rights of its viewers. The company said it would not air the Miss USA Pageant, partly owned by Trump. Univision’s decision exemplified civil rights leadership in the digital age.

Univision would not allow Latinos to be forced into the back of the bus by Trump. Univision would not allow Trump to profit from the Latino community. Univision would not allow its loyal audience to be disrespected one more time by the jingoistic slogans of a false prophet. Latinos have been galvanized by Trump’s treacherous litany of alleged Latino sins. And the outlook is bleak for institutions that do not break with him.

Latino artists — from all ethnic stripes — have also withdrawn from their respective roles on the 2015 Miss USA Pageant, they include: J Balvin, Cristián De La Fuente, Roselyn Sanchez and Zuleyka Rivera. Latinos from all ethnicities have united to demand zero tolerance from institutions who would turn a blind eye and continue their business of political engagement with individuals, like Trump, who recklessly has sullied the national reputation of Latinos, solely to achieve power and profit.

Has the Republican Party not learned anything from the 2012 presidential election, when Mitt Romney called for self-deportation, which resulted in a mass exodus of Latinos from the Republican column? The Republican Party has shredded its credibility, and its failure to shun Donald Trump and to demand his exit from the presidential race is proof positive that nothing substantive has changed, only the window dressing.

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), of which the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA) is a member, represents 39 of the preeminent national Latino organizations. NHLA has called upon NBC Universal to follow Univision’s lead and to both withdraw from the Miss USA telecast and terminate its financial relationship with Donald Trump.

If both the Republican Party and NBCU turn a blind eye or tacitly continue to work with a person who espouses such bigoted rhetoric, it is clear that the Latino community will express its disgust and assert its power, not just through TV ratings but also at the polls.

Read CNNOpinion’s new Flipboard magazine.

Felix Sanchez is the chairman and co-founder of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

Summit leaders honor ‘accomplished African women’

Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News

This year’s focus on accomplished women was not totally overlooked at the African Union Summit, despite its preoccupation with the president of Sudan, migration, xenophobia and other pressing issues.

An awards banquet was hosted by the African Union/Diaspora African Forum at the five-star Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton City, Johannesburg, Friday.

The presentation categories were the Living Legends Award, in recognition of the elders who have paved the way, and the Women of Excellence Award.

Recipients of the the Living Legends Award were Nigerian business magnate Dorothy Anyiam-Osigwe; President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, the first female head of state on the continent; Joyce Banda, former president of the Republic of Malawi; Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, current AU chairperson; and Winnie Mandela, South African anti-apartheid heroine and former wife of the former president of South Africa, the late Nelson Mandela.

Recipients of the Women of Excellence Award were Saida Agrebi of Tunisia, Nardos Bekele-Thomas of Ethiopia, Dr. Arikana Chihombori of Zimbabwe, Graca Machel of Mozambique, Justice Victoria Okobi of Nigeria, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings of Ghana, Sama Salifu of Ghana and Dr. Julieti Tuakli of Ghana.

Speaking at the opening of the Second African Union High Level Panel on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture H.E. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace said more than 70 percent of women in Africa are victims of financial exclusion.

“African women face many barriers in accessing financial services, including the constraints of time and mobility, illiteracy, legal and cultural constraints and sexual discrimination,” she said.

Dlamini-Zuma observed that African women continue to labor in the 21st century with outdated means, such as the hoe, the machete and the pestle and mortar, as well as the grinding stone.

She expressed the commission’s vision that in 2015 and beyond, African women should have access to new technologies and work in a modernized and mechanized agricultural sector to fulfill the commitment and vision of the African Union, namely, that the hand-held hoe should be relegated to agricultural museums.

Consequently, the AUC, on June 14, launched an advocacy campaign during the summit by handing tillers symbolically to all 54 AU member states, signifying the commitment of the countries to mechanize agriculture and reduce the physical suffering of African women.

Mandela expressed gratitude for her award, saying, “I was almost reduced to tears when I got this invitation, but my tears dried up during the brutal times of apartheid.”

Graca Machel, widow of Nelson Mandela, said her award made her remember the women who suffered every day through abuse and rape. She dedicated her award to struggling women in rural areas and the 32 million girls in Africa who did not have access to education.

“This is also for the Chibok girls, who were simply targeted for seeking education,” Machel said. “We have to do much more than celebrating, because we are privileged and privilege comes with responsibility.”