Homegrown flavor from an indoor garden

Add some homegrown flavor to your winter meals. From micro-greens to tomatoes, it is possible to grow produce indoors.

Micro-greens are a quick and easy way to add some flavor and crunch to your plate. Just plant seeds labeled for sprouting or micro-greens in a shallow container filled with a sterile potting or seed starting mix. Within two weeks you will be harvesting nutritious mini vegetable and herb leaves for salads, sandwiches or snacking.

Take it one step further and grow a few of your favorite herbs on a warm sunny windowsill. Select a container with drainage holes and set on the appropriate size saucer to protect your woodwork. Fill the container with well-drained potting mix and plant seeds or transplants. Purchase basil, chives, parsley, oregano and rosemary plants from your local garden center or the produce department.

Greens, like lettuce and spinach, will also grow in a sunny window or better yet under artificial lights. Grow them in a container filled with a well-drained potting mix similar to your windowsill herb garden. Plant seeds according to the seed packet. Continually harvest the outer leaves when they are four to six inches tall.

Those that like a bit of a challenge may want to try growing a compact tomato, pepper or eggplant. You’ll get the best production with a combination of natural and artificial light or full spectrum lights.

Natural sunlight and full spectrum lights contain the variety of light plants need to grow, flower and fruit. Blue light promotes leaf and stem growth, while red combined with blue promotes flowering. Consider investing in energy efficient and long lasting high intensity grow lights for the greatest yields when growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other fruiting plants indoors.

Leave lights on for 14, but no more than 16 hours each day. Plants need a dark period as well as bright light each day to grow and thrive. Use a timer to ensure the plants receive the right duration of light.

Most flowering and fruiting plants need a high intensity of light, so keep the lights six to twelve inches above your plants. Use reflective surfaces under and around the plants to bounce light back into larger plants.

Increase your indoor growing space by going vertical. Shelf units with built-in light fixtures like the Stack-n-Grow Light System (gardeners.com) provide multiple layers of growing space.

And once your tomatoes, peppers and eggplants start flowering, you will need to shake things up a bit. Gently shake the plants several times a week, better yet daily, to move the pollen from the female to the male parts of the flower so fruit will develop. A gentle breeze from a fan or vibrations from a battery-operated toothbrush work well.

Indoor gardening won’t yield the same results as a sunny outdoor garden, but the flavor can’t be beat when gardening outdoors is not an option.

Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books. For more information, gardening videos and tips, visit: www.melindamyers.com.

Oscars 2016: Company cops backlash for confusing Oprah with Whoopi

— Who knew a tattoo could lead to such an embarrassing gaffe?

That was case during the Oscars Sunday when a beauty website attempted to pay a compliment — and it went terribly wrong.

In a tweet commenting on celebrity red carpet looks, the company, Total Beauty, confused comedian and actress Whoopi Goldberg, 60, with media mogul Oprah Winfrey, 62.

Total Beauty, a Los Angeles-based company that posts fitness tips, tweeted a picture of Goldberg on the red carpet at the 88th Academy Awards, her tattooed shoulder on display, along with the caption: “We had no idea @Oprah was #tatted, and we love it…”

In a year in which Hollywood’s treatment of racial issues has been under the spotlight, social media reaction to the blunder — confusing two powerful African-American women in the media — was swift and merciless.

The tweet was swiftly deleted, but not before critics had had their say.

“(H)ave you even seen a black person before?” asked one Twitter user.

“You could not have picked a worse year for a gaffe like this one. #OscarsSoWhite,” tweeted Steven Nelson, professor of African and African American art history at UCLA, referring to the diversity controversy that overshadowed the ceremony.

In an apology tweet, Total Beauty company said: “We’d like to apologize to Oprah and Whoopi, as well as everyone we’ve offended. It was our error, and there are no excuses.”

It subsequently tweeted it would use the mistake as an opportunity to donate $10,000 to a charity of Goldberg and Winfrey’s choice.

What did Winfrey make of the embarrassing mix-up?

Her best friend and CBS “This Morning” co-host Gayle King took to Instagram, showing Winfrey looking puzzled while holding a cellphone with Goldberg’s picture.

The caption read: “@Oprah & favorite daughter watching #Oscars & seeing @totalbeauty snafu! We all love @whoopigoldberg but we don’t all look alike Jeeeze!”

So far, there’s been no comment from Goldberg on the error.

Oscar shines on ‘Spotlight’

— “Spotlight” grabbed the limelight at Sunday’s 88th Academy Awards.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” may have won more honors, leading all films with six. “The Revenant” won some major prizes, including the first Oscar for actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

But when the last award of the evening was read, it was the little film about Boston Globe investigative reporters digging into a sex abuse scandal involving Catholic priests that was left standing.

“This film gave a voice to survivors,” producer Michael Sugar said. “And this film amplifies that voice, which we hope will become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican.”

It was one of just two awards “Spotlight” took home. The film also won for Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer’s original screenplay.

But until that moment, it looked like “Revenant,” about a vengeful trapper in the 1820s, was going to go all the way.

Alejandro González Iñárritu notched his second straight Oscar in the directing category; he’s the first person to pull off that feat since Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1949-50. The film’s Emmanuel Lubezki also kept a streak going, winning his third straight Oscar for cinematography.

But the big story was DiCaprio, who finally won an Oscar with his fifth acting nomination.

After taking some time to thank Iñárritu, co-star Tom Hardy and director Martin Scorsese, among others, DiCaprio put in a plug for environmentalism.

“Climate change is real. It is happening right now; we needed to go to the tip of South America to find snow. … It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species,” he said. “We need to support leaders around the world who speak for indigenous people, for humanity, the voices who have been drowned out by the politics of greed. Do not take this planet for granted. … I do not take this night for granted. Thank you.”

Some shockers

Though most awards were expected, given the expertise of close-watching Oscar handicappers these days, the night wasn’t without its shockers.

Mark Rylance won best supporting actor for his performance as a Soviet agent in “Bridge of Spies.”

The category included Sylvester Stallone, who was widely believed to be the front-runner for his performance as Rocky Balboa in “Creed” — 39 years after he first played the role in “Rocky.”

“Writing’s on the Wall,” Sam Smith’s song from the James Bond film “Spectre,” won best song — an announcement that came not long after Lady Gaga brought the house down with a performance of her nominated song, ” ‘Til It Happens to You.”

After a streak of technical awards to “Mad Max,” “Ex Machina” won for visual effects.

Ennio Morricone, the legendary composer of such film scores as “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and “The Untouchables,” finally won an Oscar, his first in six nominations. It was for Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.”

And, in perhaps the biggest shock of all, the show was rather brisk, lasting just over 3½ hours. That’s actually longer than some shows of recent years, including the 2011 show with James Franco and Anne Hathaway, but given the program’s propensity for pushing four hours, it’s not something to be taken for granted.

Rock comes out hard

Perhaps that was at least partly due to the host, the no-holds-barred Chris Rock.

Rock wasted no time in taking on #OscarsSoWhite and diversity issues that had been in the news since the nominations were announced in mid-January.

After the obligatory montage of the year’s movies, Rock came out and said he’d counted at least 15 black people in the video — and, just like that, he was off.

“If they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job,” he said. “You’d be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.”

Noting the lack of black nominees through most of Oscar history, he pointed out that in the ’60s, “black people did not protest because we had real things to protest at the time. We were too busy being raped and lynched to worry about best cinematography.”

And “In Memoriam,” the yearly segment of people who had passed away in the previous year, would get an addition, Rock said.

“In the In Memoriam package, it’s just going to be black people shot by the cops on the way to the movies.”

Some of his lines earned gasps from the audience, and the New York Daily News believed he had gone too far.

But his stint appeared to have gone well overall.

Rock went back to the Magic Johnson Theaters in Compton to ask African-American moviegoers about the year’s nominated films. Almost none of the patrons had seen them.

And he even helped his daughter sell Girl Scout cookies.

Beating the bear

In the other major awards, Brie Larson won best actress for her performance in “Room,” and Alicia Vikander won best supporting actress for her work in “The Danish Girl.”

“Inside Out” won best animated feature.

In recent weeks, it appeared that “The Revenant” would top them all. The film featured gripping photography and DiCaprio’s intense performance and made a set piece of a vicious bear attack. It had won some major prizes, including the Directors Guild prize for Iñárritu, and the Motion Picture Academy rarely splits honors between director and picture.

But “Spotlight,” which had been quietly collecting honors of its own, came through on deadline.

The 88th Academy Awards aired from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.

Melissa Harris-Perry is out at MSNBC

— Melissa Harris-Perry will not be back on MSNBC.

On Sunday morning, two days after the host’s private fight with management went public, an MSNBC spokesman confirmed that the channel is “parting ways” with her.

Earlier in the morning, Harris-Perry posted a photo on Twitter and said “Farewell #Nerdland,” a nickname for her weekend show, “Melissa Harris-Perry.”

“Inviting diverse new voices to table was a privilege,” she tweeted. “Grateful for years of support and criticism.”

Harris-Perry confirmed to CNNMoney that her representatives are in talks with MSNBC about an exit deal.

Harris-Perry had felt for months like MSNBC was trying to squeeze her off the air and take away her editorial point of view.

On Friday, she spoke out about the treatment, saying she had been “silenced” by MSNBC and placed in a form of cable news purgatory, having been pre-empted for two weekends in a row.

“Our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season,” she wrote in a letter to staff that was shared with her fans.

MSNBC and its rivals are all trying to squeeze higher ratings out of the chaotic primary season. The channel pre-empted her for campaign coverage with a “Place for Politics” title.

The same thing has happened to other shows, too, MSNBC said in a statement responding to her letter on Friday. The channel called her reaction “surprising, confusing and disappointing.”

But Harris-Perry said the February pre-emptions were merely the most visible manifestation of the channel’s marginalization of her show.

In the letter, she said “no one on the third floor,” where MSNBC’s executives work at 30 Rockefeller Center, “has even returned an email, called me, or initiated or responded to any communication of any kind from me for nearly a month.”

She also pointedly noted a “dramatic change” in the “editorial tone and racial composition of MSNBC’s on-air coverage.”

Harris-Perry’s MSNBC contract expires in October.

“All negotiations are occurring with third parties,” Harris-Perry said in a statement to CNNMoney on Sunday morning. “I am not personally in direct communication with anyone employed with MSNBC.”

She added, “The goal of the negotiation at this point is to determine the terms of severance, not reconciliation.”

The Hollywood diversity fix

There is nothing new about #OscarsSoWhite. Once upon a time, Hollywood’s diversity battle stretched as far as The White House.

For the second year in a row, there are no people of color nominated for Oscars in any acting category. In protest, a social-media storm erupted, as did a black-celebrity-endorsed boycott.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences— led by Cheryl Boone Isaacs, its first African-American president— responded with plans to diversify the Oscar-bestowing organization’s membership by 2020.

This self-correction is a departure from March 1969 when Clifford Alexander, President Lyndon Johnson’s head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), led hearings on Hollywood’s hiring practices.

Back then Sidney Poitier was a rare bright spot. With the 1963 film “Lilies of the Field,” he became the first black performer to win the Best Actor Oscar. And, in 1967, he starred in three major films: “To Sir, with Love” and multiple-Oscar nominees “In the Heat of the Night” and the interracial love story, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”

TV anomalies at the time included Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura on “Star Trek” (1966–1969) and Diahann Carroll starring as a widowed nurse raising her son in “Julia” (1968-1971).

Behind the scenes, people of color were scarce and the film industry, Alexander recalls, barely noticed.

“People who testified on behalf of the industry really didn’t quite seem to get the point that it was important in the production of a product or in the depiction of people that it be reflective of some sense of what the real world was like” he said.

“The kinds of artificial and direct barriers that they put up were extraordinary,” said Alexander, who later became the first black Secretary of the Army. “At least, I think, what our hearings did was to point those out. We didn’t have any enforcement power, but we recommended that the Justice Department bring ‘pattern and practice of employment discrimination’ suits against the industry.

“Unfortunately, at that point, you had Richard Nixon coming in as president and he did nothing about it. But our hearings did cause the embarrassment, which is a good factor sometimes, of the industry and therefore many of the positions were at least opened up for the first time.”

Under a federal mandate, studios like Disney, Paramount and Universal— and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Union— established job-training programs that were advertised through minority-oriented newspapers and radio stations between 1970 and 1977. However, these programs evaporated after Alexander’s departure.

Pioneering film publicist Rosalind “Roz” Stevenson, whose career spanned from 1982 to 2008, didn’t benefit directly from the EEOC’s actions, but recalls their positive impact.

“The Writers Guild had a program called The Open Door. There was a program for accountants,” Stevenson said plus training for make-up artists, camera operators, costumers, assistant directors and more.

Hollywood even scoured historically black colleges and universities for talent, says Stevenson, who is starting a documentary on behind-the-camera players, such as her hairstylist husband, Robert,

a 16-year Academy member and Emmy winner; sound mixer Willie D. Burton, a two-time Oscar winner; and Cheryal Kearney, an Emmy winner and Hollywood’s first black set decorator.

Those possibilities encouraged the Compton, California, native who began as an actress.

“Once I landed in the publicity department, I felt that was something I could do well and be really happy doing,” said Stevenson, “I learned that the studio had a program that would support me in becoming a publicist.”

As a senior publicist at Universal, Stevenson, one of Hollywood’s few high-ranking publicists of color, led national and local TV, radio publicity and African-American campaigns, including “Jurassic Park,” “The Best Man,” “Erin Brockovich” and “The Hurricane,” for which Denzel Washington received a Best Actor Oscar nomination.

Through RSPR— her own PR firm targeting black audiences— Stevenson boosted “Ray“ (which scored Jamie Foxx his Best Actor Oscar), “American Gangster” and “The Pursuit of Happyness.” In all, she publicized nearly 800 films, including the Rocky and James Bond franchises at MGM.

Despite these successes, critics warn there is no happy ending yet.

“Hollywood is still run by white men,” said Dr. Darnell Hunt, director of UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, home of industry scorecard The Hollywood Diversity Report. “So, basically, you have white men making decisions about what’s viable, what’s bankable, what we should spend our money on, and they surround themselves with other white men. So, you get this echo chamber and very little consideration of different perspectives when decisions are made.”

Until this reality changes, critics insist Hollywood will remain #OscarsSoWhite.

LETTER: The Amber Rose Bill


My birth daughter, Amber Marie Rose, was killed when a dysfunctional ignition switch in her General Motors (GM) vehicle caused her car’s engine and electrical system to shut down and disable its air bags. This ignition switch defect— which GM tried to hide instead of fix— cost Amber and more than 120 people their lives.

Since Amber’s death, I’ve been advocating for important policy changes in the auto industry to ensure safety problems like this are never swept under the rug again. I’ve been working with several Maryland legislators to introduce the Amber Rose Bill (HB 982/SB 666), which would give free speech protections to Maryland auto dealers who wish to disclose potential issues to consumers.

Dealers constantly receive technical bulletins from car companies about issues, but disclosing these issues to their customers isn’t something that they are allowed to do under their franchise agreements. The Amber Rose Bill will change this practice and give local dealerships permission to share what they know with all consumers.

With so many policy issues to consider this year in Annapolis, it is important for our elected officials to know that their constituents want this bill’s passage to be a priority. That is why I’m asking the public to contact their state legislator and ask them to pass the Amber Rose Bill. It is time to curb the abusive practices that make it difficult for Maryland auto dealers to do the right thing for their customers. Maryland drivers deserve better!

Laura Christian

Harwood, MD

Comcast, Smithsonian Channel, MLB host premiere screening “The Hammer of Hank Aaron”

Comcast, Smithsonian Channel and Major League Baseball partnered to present a private, premiere screening of “The Hammer of Hank Aaron.” The screening took place on Wednesday, February 17, 2016, at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture located at 830 E. Pratt Street in Baltimore. The event also included a VIP reception, a panel discussion, and a Q&A session.

“The Hammer of Hank Aaron.” is part of Smithsonian Channel and Major League Baseball’s MAJOR LEAGUE LEGENDS series, which tells the stories of four players who transcended the national pastime and left legacies as true American icons: Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams.

Damion Thomas, Sports Curator for Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and David Royle, Executive Vice President of Programming and Production for Smithsonian Channel answering questions.

(Photo: Ursula Battle)

Damion Thomas, Sports Curator for Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and David Royle, Executive Vice President of Programming and Production for Smithsonian Channel answering questions.

“The Hammer of Hank Aaron” features extensive newly captured interviews with baseball icon Henry “Hank” Aaron, who was born on February 5, 1934, in Mobile, Alabama. The film details his upbringing in Alabama, and the influence Jackie Robinson had on his life. Robinson was the first black baseball player to integrate Major League Baseball.

“He was telling the whole world, no matter who you are, black or white, if you can play the game, give him a chance,” said Aaron who recalled cutting school to hear Robinson speak at a Mobile, Alabama drug store. “And I thought that by him coming into the league, that if you give him an opportunity, you are going to have to give me an opportunity.”

The film also provides a rare and personal glimpse into the life of Aaron as he reflected back on how he hit bottle caps with homemade sticks as a youngster, and how his softball and baseball talents eventually caught the attention of a scout with the Negro League’s Indianapolis Clowns, who offered him $200 a month to play for the team.

“I left Mobile with two dollars in my in my pocket, and a satchel with one pair of pants,” recalled Aaron. “And I think they were my sister’s pants, and I went to Spring Training with the Indianapolis Clowns.”

After quick success with the Clowns, Aaron signed with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954. In 1957, he won the Most Valuable Player Award of the National League, and would crush a home run to clinch the National League pennant for the Braves, who would go on to defeat the New York Yankees in the 1957 World Series.

In 1966, at the height of the Civil Rights era, the Braves would relocate to its epicenter in Atlanta. While the film highlighted Aaron’s crowning achievements, it also served as a painful reminder of the racism and hatred that accompanied the Jim Crow-era in which he played. Some of the film’s most riveting moments occur after Aaron recalled the death threats he and his family received as he drew closer to unseating Babe Ruth as the all-time home run king.

“It was overwhelming,” said Damion Thomas, sports curator for Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. “Some people were congratulating him, while some people were threatening him. Hank Aaron received about 900,000 pieces of mail, which would probably take up the space in this room.”

However, Aaron did not allow the threats to stop him from earning his place in baseball history. On April 8, 1974, he hit homerun number 715, breaking Ruth’s record of 714. Aaron would finish his 23-year career with 755 career home runs. A 25-time All-Star selection, he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

“As a kid, I heard Hank Aaron speak, and it really had an impact on me,” said Lameteria Hall, who attended the screening. “Watching this film 40 years later was very filling. The film talked about Aaron’s sad and happy moments, but as a kid, I only saw happy. I’ll never forget when Hank Aaron spoke to us. He was such an inspiration.”

“The Hammer of Hank Aaron” will kick-off the Smithsonian Channel and Major League Baseball’s MAJOR LEAGUE LEGENDS series, and will premiere February 29 at 8 p.m. on the Smithsonian Channel.

Sorority holds youth symposium in Annapolis

The Lambda Delta Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. of Anne Arundel County has partnered with Georgetown East Elementary School in Annapolis to host a free youth symposium entitled “Building Partnerships to Support Our Youth” on Saturday, March 12, 2016 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Boys and girls may attend the one-day youth symposium, although some topics will focus on girls, ages 13 to 17. The event will feature educational workshops and offer opportunities for attendees to learn more about community organizations that provide services for youth and families in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. Parents may stay to hear a special presentation about human trafficking. Youth workshops will be linked to the sorority’s signature program, Project Reassurance, which was originally conceived to support teen mothers. The project now focuses on Healthy Choices, Healthy Living and Healthy Generations (H3) to help reduce teen pregnancy.

Deena Marshall, chair of the youth symposium, said that the chapter adopted Georgetown East Elementary School last year. This marks the second time that the event will be held there. Additionally, chapters nationwide will host the 19th annual symposium on March 12 as a unified effort to support youth. Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. is a leading international, non-profit community service organization that was founded by seven educators in 1922 at Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind.

“We are very committed to giving back to our community,” Marshall said. “We really try to broaden our impact as an organization and as a chapter, too.”

Kimberly N. Ellison-Taylor, the basileus of the sorority, explained that several programs have been designed to positively impact the lives of young people. However, she regards the youth symposium as a great example of a program designed to foster a stronger collaboration with young people, while addressing issues directly impacting them.

“Last year we provided workshops on Financial Literacy, Anti-Bullying, and Water Safety/SWIM 1922. This year, we will also showcase a session on RunJumpThrow (RJT)— a partnership with the USA Track & Field organization. We are asking young people to run, jump (and) throw with us— having fun and learning at the same time about the benefits of movement regardless of physical or athletic ability. As adults, we are stakeholders in the success of our youth— educationally, mentally and physically. Parents, in particular have a vested interest in these areas and also learning more about how we can more effectively support our youth,” Ellison-Taylor said.

“The Youth Symposium is a great program and we are sowing seeds for areas that will significantly benefit youth today and in the future. Parents have noted renewed interest from their young people in the areas (previously) discussed at the Youth Symposium, as well as ongoing friendships with other participating youth. I am delighted to be the president of Lambda Delta Sigma and leading programs that invest in our future leaders.”

For more information about the event, email info@sgr-lgs.org and to register, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lambda-delta-sigma-19th-annual-youth-symposium-tickets-22001612415.

Noted African American historian honored in Baltimore County

Louis S. Diggs has spent nearly a lifetime helping to preserve African-American history in Baltimore County.

At 83, Diggs concedes that age may have slowed him just a bit, but it hasn’t stopped his ongoing research as he continues to dig for more valuable roots.

“Even though age is catching up with me, I can’t stop digging up our history here in Baltimore County. Deep down, I feel God is keeping me here for a reason,” Diggs said. And, his work hasn’t gone unnoticed.

On Thursday, February 18, 2016, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced a new Louis S. Diggs Award to honor notable African-Americans from around the county.

Kamenetz says the award will be presented each year during Black History Month and this year’s recipients are Audrey Simmons and Ray Banks, who together brought to fruition the Hubert V. Simmons Museum for Negro League Baseball, located inside the Owings Mills Library.

“No one has done more to preserve and promote African-American history in Baltimore County than Louis Diggs,” Kamenetz said. “An award such as this is long overdue, and we in Baltimore County are so fortunate to have this notable expert on African-American

history right here in our community.”

Born in Baltimore in 1932, Diggs spent most of his youth in the Sandtown area and attended Douglass High School before quitting in 1950 to join the all-black Maryland National Guard when they were federalized to support the Korean War.

Diggs remained in service with the U.S. Army until 1970, having made several trips to Korea, two tours in Germany and once stationed in Japan. Diggs counts as his most notable assignment his appointment as Sergeant Major of the ROTC Detachment at then Morgan State College where he was assigned from 1957 to 1964.

Earlier, in 1954, Diggs married Catonsville resident Shirley Washington and the couple made the area their home. After retiring from the Army in the fall of 1970, Diggs went to work for the District of Columbia Public Schools as a military instructor at Ballou High School.

In 1975, he earned his high school diploma and one year later he graduated Catonsville Community College with an Associate’s Degree. Diggs then earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Baltimore and a Masters of Public Administration before doing post-graduate studies at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

He worked as a substitute teacher at Catonsville High School and he credits the students there with encouraging him to research and write about the history of the African-American community of Winters Lane in Catonsville.

“I was surprised by the naming of an award after me,” said Diggs, who has authored several books about black history.

“I only heard that I would be honored during Black History Month and expected another certificate would be given to me, sort of as usual, but upon learning about the annual award named in my honor never crossed my mind,” he said. “For African-Americans who now know about such an honor, they should realize the importance of spending time doing any type of research of the lives and experiences of African-Americans in the past.”

So much of black history is simply not known to many, according to Diggs.

“Here in Baltimore County, where our history has never been documented, this should serve as an eye opener to both our youth and especially our young retirees that spending time researching our history is so needed. I have only scratched the surface on our history in Baltimore County in the ten books I have researched and published, but another ten or twenty books need to be published on this subject,” Diggs said, also adding that he can’t thank Kamenetz enough for recognizing Black History Month and the county government for helping him and his mentor, Lenwood Johnson for assisting in bringing black history to light.

“I’m hoping that African-Americans from Baltimore County are aware of the support that Baltimore County government has totally supported all of my work in the county finding our history end ensuring that this history is published in books for the future because we all know as much as possible about our ancestors,” Diggs said. “We all know that so many African-Americans were slaves, but so few know how we became productive citizens throughout time, and the contributions we made to society. This is why I say more volunteer time is needed in digging out our history.”

Hyundai appoints Erwin Raphael to Lead Genesis USA

Special to the NNPA from IR+Media

Hyundai Motor America President and Chief Executive Officer David L. Zuchowski announced this week that Erwin Raphael has been appointed as General Manager for Genesis Motors USA.

Last November Hyundai’s worldwide Vice-Chairman Chung Eui-Sun announced the company would be launching Genesis, globally, as an independent luxury brand of Hyundai.

Industry insiders expect Genesis will be heavy competition for Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and BMW in the U.S. market.

As General Manager of the newly formed organization, Raphael will be responsible for the strategic direction and management of Genesis operations in the United States, including sales and marketing. This summer, he will oversee the introduction of the Genesis G90, a sleek, new large luxury sedan that has been awarded five-star ratings for safety and design. Raphael will assume his duties March 1, 2016.

Consumers recently got a peek of the brand’s creative marketing strategy during the 2016 Super Bowl with a commercial featuring comedian Kevin Hart. USA Today’s Ad Meter awarded the commercial this year’s best.

“The position of Genesis General Manager is a critical one to the growth of this brand in the United States and I couldn’t be happier to have Erwin take this key position,” said Zuchowski. “Erwin’s depth of product knowledge, broad dealer experience and skill at flawless execution all will be called upon as he drives success for this new brand,” he said.

Raphael has been at Hyundai for the last six years, serving in various roles. Most recently he was the Western Region Director and General Manager for Hyundai Motor America where he was responsible for overseeing the operations of more than 165 Hyundai dealerships in the 12 western-most states. He has held other leadership positions at Chrysler, Toyota Motor Manufacturing and International Truck and Engine Co.

“I’m delighted to assume the position of General Manager for the Genesis brand,” said Raphael. “There’s a lot of work to be done to make this brand the success we all know it can be. With the help of a great team, I know we will exceed expectations.”

In addition to his operations roles at Hyundai, Raphael is a founding member and co-chair of Hyundai’s Diversity Council where he advocates for greater dealer diversity, and multicultural marketing. A United States Army veteran, Raphael is credited with creating a stronger relationship between Hyundai and veterans returning from combat.