New Year’s resolutions for Black America in 2016

— Whenever we begin a new calendar year, it can be useful to make New Year’s Resolutions to prioritize and focus for the immediate future. Beyond the traditional litany of making very personal and oftentimes private resolutions at the beginning of a new year, black America as a whole, I believe, should be vocal and public about our determination to keep pushing forward for freedom, justice, equality and economic empowerment.

What should be our collective goals and strategic objectives over the next 12 months? Recent academic studies by the Dominican University of California on the importance of “goal setting” to overcome individual and social procrastination revealed that writing down your resolutions and sharing your goals with others that you care about will help you work more diligently to achieve those goals.

Every time I pick up and read a black-owned newspaper in America during this season of annual proclamation, it is always informative to see a written list of New Year Resolutions that challenge black America to continue strive for excellence and achievement in all fields of endeavor. I am obviously proud of the trusted impact of the Black Press of America. Check us out at and

We have another critical election year coming up in 2016 and the black American vote will have to be mobilized in every primary election and across the nation next November in elections in every precinct in every state, county by county. Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) efforts, therefore, will be a top priority and we must collectively resolve that in 2016 we will ensure the largest voter turnout of black voters in the history of the United States.

Remember, we had a record voter turnout of black voters both in 2008 and in 2012. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “66.2 percent of blacks who voted in the 2012 presidential election, higher than the 64.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites who did so. This marks the first time that blacks have voted at a higher rate than whites since the Census Bureau started publishing statistics on voting by the eligible citizen population in 1996.”

We cannot afford to let the black vote be taken for granted in 2016. Politics and economics are inseparable in the United States. Yet, even though black Americans spend in excess of $1.2 trillion annually in the nation’s economy, that kind of spending volume has not translated into real economic power: increasing the ownership of global businesses and billion-dollar revenue generating investments. We still have a long way to go to achieve economic equality and parity in America.

We should resolve, therefore, in 2016 to improve and expand the economic development of black American families and communities. Although the American economy continues to recover under the Obama Administration, for black Americans we have not closed the wealth gap. White Americans today have 12 times the wealth of black Americans. We must without hesitation and apology, be more determined to end poverty and to generate more wealth for black America. Therefore, we join in complete solidarity with the resolve of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) in the goal of striving to increase black homeownership in 2016.

We are very encouraged that the 2016 NAACP Image Awards will once again be broadcast on TV One. We all should support Radio One, TV One and Interactive One. We all also should support The Impact Network and other black-owned media companies as well as the publishers of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).

Ending mass incarceration, reforming the criminal justice system, and stopping police brutality are related urgent matters that demand the resolve and activist involvement of black America. Yes, in 2016 our national outcry will continue to be “Black Lives Matter!”

The highest quality education for our children and our young adults requires our vocal support and energetic involvement from pre-school to post graduate higher education. At every level of the educational process and journey we must be vigilant in our demands and commitments to attain the best education for our families.

Thus let’s renew and strengthen our dedication to support the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) as well as work to sustain all of our Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and predominantly black institutions (PBIs). Lastly, we are a spiritual people. All African people are spiritual. We resolve lastly to support and strengthen our religiously institutions: churches, temples, mosques and synagogues.

I asked the Chairman of the NNPA, Denise Rolark Barnes, who publishes the Washington Informer for her perspective about 2016 New Year Resolutions. She emphasized resolutely, “In 2016, our first priority should be to commit our lives and our dollars to those individuals and institutions that represent our best interests. Let’s strive to be the ones that will make a difference in our own communities. Be mindful that ‘If it is to be, it is up to me.’”

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and can be reached at:

The other one percent

I watched the final Republican debates of 2015 in shock and awe! I recognized— especially when appealing to the party’s base— that most of the positions of the candidates are more akin to throwing raw meat to wild animals than to substantive discussion of policies of the respective candidates. I wasn’t surprised that I saw these candidates as detached from the realities impacting the largest numbers of our population.

I’m intrigued by the cavalier attitude displayed by members of the Republican Political Elite when addressing the concerns of the masses. Romney’s ‘classic’ 47 percent comment and the obvious deference paid by Republicans to the wealthiest one percent of our nation both give clear indication that wealth determines Republican interest.

This was clear when, in outlining his foreign policy position, Senator Marco Rubio commented that putting “U.S. boots on the ground” was the solution to Middle East conflict. I’ve heard the phrase “boots on the ground” countless times lately but during this “Season of Peace,” it was more offensive, even obscene. It caused me to question the casual concern of this remark and reason for deeper consideration of the other one percent.

If you haven’t given serious thought, the responsibility for the security of our nation is no longer a “shared” responsibility. Those who remember the Selective Service conscription (military draft) remember the concern held by the general population for all our military service members. Every family who had a son between the ages of 18 and 29 was concerned about decisions committing our troops to combat. Whether that son was a ne’er-do-well drafted off the block, a Mensa candidate drafted from the halls of Harvard, or anyone in between, each of those young men and their families— forced or otherwise— became stakeholders in the security of the United States.

The all-volunteer military has seemingly changed that dynamic permanently. Some argue that the Selective Service Registration requirement still exists and all have the potential to serve. The truth is that registration has devolved into a symbolic gesture of civic responsibility. For practical purpose, unless someone has a patriotic epiphany or an economic, financial or educational need, service to the defense of the nation is an option.

Which brings us back to the “Other one percent.” When we look objectively at who now serves our nation, we must admit that our military is primarily comprised of lower-income citizens whose economic circumstances oblige them to join. They are the individuals who live in areas of the country that offer few opportunities for employment or career development. They are the students who see the potential for future success, but without the resources to obtain the requisite education or training that will allow the success they imagine. They are the reservists who join the military for the quid pro quo of extra income in exchange for one weekend a month and an additional two weeks each year. It is a rare exception that you will find a member of the moneyed-class among the ranks.

Which brings us back to “boots on the ground.” There are no “boots on the ground.” There are young men and women who proudly serve our nation. They are not the sons and daughters of those who make decisions that commit them to combat. They are the sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and relatives who place the interests of our nation above their own.

To refer to them as “boots on the ground” dishonors them and the privilege they afford the rest of us to live our lives in relative peace. The mere “Thank you for your service,” seems inadequate. In this “Season of Peace,” I can only add my prayers for the blessing of true peace and my hope for them and their families.

Dr. E. Faye Williams is President of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. For more information, visit: or call 202-678-6788.

Perseverance is paying off for Ravens’ Jeremy Butler

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That is the exact mindset Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jeremy Butler has exhibited during his first two seasons in the NFL and he appears to have done enough to make a strong case for being on the Raven’s active roster next year.

Butler was released prior to the season after a very good showing in OTAs and mini-camp. He didn’t produce as much during the preseason games and unfortunately, it led to his release before the final rosters were submitted.

The second year wide receiver faced a similar dilemma last season. He was one of a number of young receivers brought in to compete for a limited number of roster spots. Butler made it through most of the preseason and actually scored a touchdown in the last preseason game against the New Orleans Saints.

However, he injured his shoulder and was placed on injured reserve for the rest of the 2014 season. That didn’t stop him from being at the facility working to recover. As a rookie, he got the chance to witness how the veterans prepare for the upcoming season and how they maintain their bodies to make it the rest of the way.

The hard work that Butler put in made a good impression on head coach John Harbaugh.

“Jeremy Butler looks fine. I think he has picked up where he left off and gotten better, stronger, a little faster,” Harbaugh said. “He has made some plays. Again, for him, it’s going to be kind of a long-haul-type deal and [we will] see how he does.”

The Ravens signed Butler to their practice squad after he cleared waivers and he continued to push for a spot on the active roster. While on the practice squad, his job was to give the defense a good look, often times playing the role of the opposing team’s lead receiver.

Butler was finally brought up to the active roster on October 25, 2015 and made his NFL debut against the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 15, 2015. Butler’s first NFL reception came late in the game. He made a key 21-yard catch during a Ravens fourth quarter scoring drive. It was fitting for Butler that his first NFL catch came at a crucial time in the game.

Each of the next six games saw Butler record at least three catches. His best game came against the Seattle Seahawks, a team with one of the best secondaries in the NFL. His seven receptions for 72 yards was a career high. Four of those seven receptions resulted in first downs for the Ravens.

Butler feels good about the way he has been involved in the game plan.

“This offense has given me the ability to show what I can do as far as being in the slot,” Butler said. “Being physical with smaller guys and being quicker with bigger guys.”

The Ravens have one more game in the 2015 season. It wasn’t a bright year for the franchise, but they did get to see some younger players including Butler step up and prove that they belong.

Butler came to the NFL as an undrafted free agent and survived multiple roster cuts before breaking onto the active roster.

He was not actived for the first two games of his career but that didn’t stop him from working hard and remaining focused on his goal of becoming a contributor on game day. Butler didn’t waver from his plan and has now become a significant part of the Ravens game plan.

He refused to get down on himself when he was struggling to make the roster and he won’t look too far ahead now that he is on the active roster.

“I’m just taking it one day at a time. I’ll control what I can control, and everything [else] will work itself out. My confidence will never be shaken,” Butler said. “I remain on an even keel. I’m always confident in my ability— believe in yourself, because if you don’t, nobody [else] will.”

RAMBLING ROSE: Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Last year was a blast— pictures speak a thousand words.

Guests at the Forest Park Senior Center R&B Show

Guests at the Forest Park Senior Center R&B Show

Guests partied at the

Guests partied at the “Lady M” Fundraiser.

Lexington Market shows were awesome in 2015

Lexington Market shows were awesome in 2015

Friends hanging out

Friends hanging out

Friends at Wooden Nickel Lounge in East Baltimore

Friends at Wooden Nickel Lounge in East Baltimore

Eleanor Massive and her family

Eleanor Massive and her family

Well my dear friends, enjoy the memories and let’s do it again this year. Welcome to 2016! Remember, if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me at UNTIL THE NEXT TIME, I’M MUSICALLY YOURS.

Setting a goal for 2016!

We hear the same messages a lot this time of year. Put the past behind. Look to the future. Let bygones be bygones. Make a new commitment. Claim the new you in the New Year.

We are determined to lose weight. We decide that we aren’t going to do some things or we decide to start doing something. Life is filled with commitments, failures and recommitments. It’s okay.

We all make commitments and then fail to follow through. We diet for a day and then blow it the next. We join a gym and then never get around to working out. We aim to start a new endeavor, a new hobby or a new lifestyle. Sometimes we follow through and sometimes we don’t.

It’s not the end of the world if you’ve broken a resolution. We are human beings filled with flaws and inadequacies. Actually, all of life is trying again and again and again.

Part of life is the fun of having a target. We all need to aim our lives in a meaningful direction. Your goal may be starting a business, a new career, retirement, writing a book, writing a song, running for public office or just living healthy. Everybody’s goals are different but it’s healthy to have one or two.

We all need something to live for. Having a purpose increases our zest and passion for life. Having nothing to work toward leaves us a bit limp in our energy and sometimes hopeless and depressed.

After you read this article, determine what it is you want to do and go for it. Write your goal down and put it where you will see it often. Some days you’ll get sick of seeing your goal. Other days you will be reminded that you are either doing great or maybe you need to pick up the pace a little in effort.

I hope you make your goal in 2016. Good luck!

Singer Natalie Cole dead at 65

— Natalie Cole, the Grammy-winning singer who had hits with such songs as “This Will Be” and “Our Love” and recorded “Unforgettable … With Love,” a best-selling album of songs made famous by her late father, Nat King Cole, died Thursday evening.

She was 65.

Cole’s death was confirmed by publicist Maureen O’Connor.

Notables were quick to express their condolences.

“#NatalieCole, sister beloved & of substance and sound. May her soul rest in peace,” tweeted the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Born in 1950, Cole grew up among musical royalty. Her father was one of the most accomplished singers and jazz musicians of the postwar era, and her mother, Maria Hawkins Cole, was a singer for Duke Ellington. Their house, in Los Angeles’ upscale Hancock Park neighborhood, was a regular spot for her parents’ colleagues.

“I remember meeting Peggy Lee, Danny Thomas, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and so many others at parties,” she told The Wall Street Journal in 2014.

Tony Bennett, who also knew many of the legends of that era, expressed his sadness on Instagram on Friday.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Natalie Cole, as I have cherished the long friendship I had with her, her father Nat, and the family over the years,” he wrote.

At age 6, Cole sang with her father on a Christmas album, and she was performing by the time she was 11. Nat King Cole died in 1965, when she was 15, a loss that “crushed” her, she said.

“Dad had been everything to me,” she told the WSJ.

After college in Massachusetts, Cole embarked on her own career. In 1975, she had a massive hit with “This Will Be” from her album “Inseparable,” which showed off her tremendous pipes — she earned comparisons to Aretha Franklin — and command of a range of styles. The work won her a Grammy for best new artist.

She followed that with other hits, including “I’ve Got Love on My Mind,” “Our Love” and “Someone That I Used to Love.”

But failing sales and personal problems sidetracked Cole’s career. She had done heroin in the early ’70s, she told the Houston Chronicle, and then got hooked on cocaine. Her mother even filed for conservatorship in 1982.

A rehab stint in 1983 turned her life around, she said.

“Somehow, at some point halfway through those 30 days, I went from not wanting to be there to being afraid to leave. I was starting to get it,” she said.

Cole began a comeback in the late ’80s that was capped by 1991’s “Unforgettable … With Love,” an album that — thanks to the wonder of technology — included a duet with her father on one of his biggest hits, “Unforgettable.” (On another song, “Route 66,” she was accompanied on piano by another member of her family, her uncle Ike Cole.)

For years, she had declined to perform her father’s works in concert; now, an album of those recordings won six Grammys, including the big three: song of the year, record of the year and album of the year.

She won another Grammy for 2008’s “Still Unforgettable,” which included a variety of American standards.

In 2008, Cole started suffering from kidney problems due to hepatitis C, which she attributed to her past drug issues. Despite chemotherapy, both kidneys failed, and in 2009, she went public with a request for a kidney donation.

Even then, despite her struggles, she was a determined performer.

“I have been on dialysis in Istanbul, Milan, Indonesia, Manila, London. It’s — it’s amazing,” Cole told CNN in 2009.

She received a directed donation of a kidney from a deceased donor in May 2009.

Cole maintained her recording and performing career, most recently recording an album in Spanish, “Natalie Cole in Español.” She also appeared as a judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and guested on some “Real Housewives” programs.

Cole was married three times. She divorced her third husband, Kenneth Dupree, in 2004.

CNN’s Paul Vercammen and Cheri Mossburg contributed to this story.


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