Fairy Tale Festival 2016

The Enoch Pratt Free Library transforms itself into the magical and enchanted “Pratt Kingdom” to celebrate the 14th annual Fairy Tale Festival. Throughout the month of April, events and programs are scheduled at all Pratt locations to celebrate the magnificence of fairy tales.

The festival kicks-off with a Fairy Tale Extravaganza weekend at the Central Library:

Fairy Tale Extravaganza

Saturday, April 2, 10am to 3pm

Sunday April 3, 1pm to 3pm

Central Library Main Hall and Meyerhoff Children’s Garden

400 Cathedral Street

Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Leave the evil stepsisters at home and enjoy a weekend of celebration of fairy tales and faraway lands. All throughout the Central Library’s Main Hall, children will be able to be a prince or princess for a day. Free programs include live music by Milkshake, family crafts, magicians, Cinderella’s glass slipper and the Fairy Tale Ball.

“For fourteen years, Baltimore’s families have come to the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Fairy Tale Festival,” said Ellen Riordan, Chief of Planning, Programs and Partnerships and acting Children’s Services Coordinator. “Fairy Tale Festival celebrates the elements of the traditional stories we all love: There is magic, imagining the improbable and exploring worlds … real and imaginary. Families can spend the day together in one of our city’s greatest places. Time together is often the most magical element of all.”

“The Fairy Tale Festival is part of our commitment to bring families together and highlights the importance of reading, imagination and learning,” said Carla D. Hayden, Chief Executive Officer of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

The Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Fairy Tale Festival is sponsored by Transamerica.

For a complete schedule of Fairy Tale Festival programs grab a copy of the Fairy Tale Gazette at all Pratt locations or visit www.prattlibrary.org.

Life in Baltimore: Leah’s Book Club 2016 National Women’s History Month honorees

The sixth annual Irene Bennett Reid Memorial Tea sponsored by Leah’s Book Club honored eleven women in the community and presented guest author, F. Michael Higginbotham. Leah’s Book Club was organized in 1998 by Dr. Leah Goldsborough Hasty for like-minded readers to discuss books, particularly those by African American authors.

Beginning in 2000, each December the club began hosting a holiday tea with invited friends and Irene Bennett Reid, an avid reader and charter member of Leah’s Book Club who delighted the membership and audiences with her review of the books.

In 2011, Leah’s Book Club thought it fitting to honor Irene’s memory with the Irene Bennett Reid Memorial Tea during National Women’s History Month. Each year the club members honor and recognize women who have made contributions to their communities and who embody the same spirit and concern for the welfare of others as Irene demonstrated throughout her career.

Irene’s son, the Honorable Kurt L. Schmoke, president, University of Baltimore and former Baltimore Mayor introduced the guest author, F.Michael Higginbotham, University of Baltimore law professor and former interim dean at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Professor Higginbotham discussed his book, “Ghosts of Jim Crow: Ending Racism in Post Racial America, ” and signed books after the program. Previous speakers at this event have been Taylor Branch, Antero Pietila, Dr. G. Derek Musgrove, Larry Gibson and A. Dwight Pettit.

The program was chaired by Dr. Brenda Conley and Claudette Swain. The 2016 National Women’s History Month honorees are Regina Bernard, the Honorable Pamila J. Brown, Dr. Thelma Daley, Janese Kerr Daniels, Ph.D., Geraldine Floyd, Gloria Jones, Patelle Harris, Cynthia A. Jordan, Barbara Lee, Erika Maynor and Peggy A.W. Moore. Each honoree was highlighted in a power point presentation and escorted to the podium by their sponsor to receive a certificate and gift.

The ladies of Leah’s Book Club are committed to highlighting women in the community and providing an audience for authors to discuss their books at the annual Irene Bennett Reid Memorial Tea. Members are Lorna Brice, Lorraine Brown, Dr. Brenda Conley, Merita Donaldson, Ernestine Dunston, Juanita Edgerton, Leah Hasty, Dr. Brenda Bowe Johnson, Bennie Keene, Dorothy Marshall, Marilyn Mc Donald, Evelyn Moore, Cassandra Ross, Alice Shelton, Dr. Louise Smith, Margaret Smith, Claudette Swain and Beaulah Wallace.

Peabody students and Baltimore gospel choirs present joint concert

— On Saturday, April 9, 2016, Peabody Conservatory students will perform with gospel choirs of Ark Church and New Shiloh Baptist Church in the culmination of a semester-long course at Peabody, “The African-American Gospel Tradition in Baltimore” taught by musicology faculty member Andrew Talle.

In its second year, the course is designed to explore the phenomenally successful pedagogical techniques gospel musicians have developed to train young talent. Fourteen Peabody students have learned about the gospel tradition through written texts, guest lectures, and visits to the churches.

“Peabody is not very far from these churches geographically, but there’s still a cultural divide,” says Dr. Talle, who created the course. “These two realms of classical and gospel music have traditionally been quite separate, and, by bringing them together, I hope my students will be able experience this music, and, in a sense, we’re able to step into each other’s lives and see where the commonalities are.”

Both churches are a 10-minute drive from Peabody’s Mount Vernon campus: the Ark Church is in East Baltimore’s Oliver neighborhood; and New Shiloh Baptist Church is in the Mondawmin neighborhood. Ark Church Minister of Music Marcus D. Smith, “When it all comes together, it’s actually beautiful music to the point that it’s rhythmic, soulful, uplifting, and very encouraging so that it touches the soul and touches the heart.”

The free gospel concert, featuring the Divine Voices of Praise from Ark Church, led by Mr. Smith, and the Sanctuary Choir from New Shiloh Baptist Church, led by Worship Music Consultant W. Patrick Alston Sr. – will begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, 2016 in Peabody’s Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall.

For more information or to see a video about the course, visit: www.peabody.jhu.edu.

The Republicans: Cowardice in high places

Jeb Bush endorses Ted Cruz. So do Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney. Chris Christie endorses— in fact, practically fawns all over—Donald Trump. Ben Carson suddenly thinks Trump would make a great president, in agreement with Vladimir Putin of all people. Paul Ryan bemoans the sorry state of his party’s campaign but refuses to name names and implies he’ll endorse whoever wins the nomination. The national chairman of the Republican Party likewise indicates unhappiness with the candidates but says he’ll endorse whoever wins. John Kasich appeals to reason but nobody is listening. Who will he endorse when he finally drops out?

These guys are cowards, pure and simple. They have no principles, no scruples, only a skewed sense of party loyalty, which communist party apparatchiks would surely appreciate. Rather than refuse to endorse either of the two frontrunners, they abide by a bizarre tradition of accepting their fate, holding their noses, and supporting candidates they have called— and who have called them— every name in the book. Sure, they say, Trump and Cruz are “con artists,” bigots, bullies— but at least they are our terrible people and, oh yes, they’re loyal conservatives.

Now I’m not so naïve as to believe that the endorsers really mean what they say in support of their suddenly wonderful candidate. Nor do I believe the fence sitters like Paul Ryan when they say (as Ryan did say) that we need to “raise our gaze and aim for a brighter horizon.” All of them are self-serving, jockeying for position, probably with an eye on winning or keeping a job in the next Republican administration. They are desperately trying to show that even though they have some problem with Trump and Cruz— hey, nobody’s perfect— they have an even bigger problem with Hillary Clinton. So they content themselves with supporting the “lesser evil,” or opting (like Ryan) for neutrality.

Let’s not leave this sorry lot without also noting that Trump and Cruz are cowards too, though they mask their insecurities with bravado. They will never acknowledge their race and gender-based hatreds, their moral deficits, their constant lying, or the real impact of their policies (or what passes for policies) on everything from military strategy to social programs and the environment.

History will record that when the Republican Party disintegrated, undone by two demagogues who represented depraved values and dangerous ideas, no one in the party dared to directly challenge and repudiate them. Instead, party leaders pretended that the demagogues’ views might somehow be toned down by wiser advisers or by the realities of power. Now that’s naïveté!

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University and blogs at In the Human Interest.

Vivian Fenton dispenses financial expertise as volunteer with CASH Campaign

Formed 15 years ago, the Baltimore CASH Campaign (Creating Assets, Savings and Hope) employs strategies to help working families in Charm City maximize their financial opportunities and resources.

Since 2009, Vivian Fenton has volunteered at the nonprofit where she helped to provide free tax preparation and savings opportunities for many individuals and families around the city.

“What stood out most for me as a volunteer is knowing that Baltimore CASH can help maximize an individual’s earning potential through various programs. Free tax preparation and coaching are the services I’m involved with,” said Fenton, an Assistant Vice President and Trust Administrative Officer with U.S. Trust/Bank of America.

Fenton also has been involved with Junior Achievement of Baltimore, The Arthritis Foundation, and The American Heart Association.

“Approximately two years ago, a client came in to have her taxes redone because she owed money based on the work completed by her previous tax preparer,” Fenton said. “Someone told her to take her tax returns to the Baltimore CASH Campaign. After Baltimore CASH Campaign volunteers helped with her taxes, she was so overwhelmed, ecstatic and extremely grateful because a refund was identified. That scenario confirmed my passion as a volunteer with the Baltimore CASH Campaign.”

It also serves only to further validate the importance of financial literacy, particularly for school-aged students, according to Fenton.

“I read that one of the biggest influences on financial behavior as an adult is the way we saw money handled when we were young,” she said. “Money management is not always an instinctive behavior. We need to learn how to put it into practice. The earlier we can teach young people to make good financial decisions and it becomes a learned behavior, it then allows them to obtain financial independence.”

One obstacle students face is peer pressure, which Fenton says could taint their judgment and cause them to make irrational financial decisions.

“I grew up in a home where my mother taught me that needs versus wants can affect your purchasing decisions, and you don’t buy things because someone else has it,” said Fenton, a native of New York who has lived in the Baltimore area since 2003.

Fenton also has a strong Caribbean heritage as her parents were born in Montserrat in the British West Indies, where they learned the value of saving for the future.

“My mother emphasized that saving money was extremely important,” Fenton said. “I truly want to help young people understand that.”

While it appears that African-Americans lack or are deprived of real financial literacy education, Fenton says it’s important not to look back, but to keep focused ahead.

“As an African-American woman, I have to focus on the future,” she said. “We have to ensure that our community and the next generation have access to [the] tools and resources [available at] Bank of America’s BetterMoneyHabits.com, a free online resource for anyone with tools on a wide range of personal finance topics and the Baltimore CASH Campaign,” Fenton said.

“I co-chair the 20 and 30 Something Ministry at my church. Our focus is to empower young women in all areas of their lives. This will include financial empowerment sessions,” she said.

Fenton says her parents didn’t have a college degree or any formal financial education, but they still introduced her to the importance of saving and while they didn’t know about investing, they were still able to create a nest egg. That, she says, is a valuable lesson that sometimes even the lack of education or educational opportunities can be overcome with determination.

“It was a strong sense of self-worth and a concern for the future. Looking back, I realize they exercised due diligence, sacrificed and had a vision,”

Fenton said. “I saw and benefited from the reward and we have to continue to

impart that information to my African-American community because there’s a quote that I believe is so true, which says ‘People perish not because of lack of faith, they perish because of a lack of knowledge.’”

Why are blacks supporting Hillary?

Consider this an open letter to the African American community south of the Mason-Dixie line. This is particularly addressed to those in Maryland who might be considering voting for Clinton in the April 26, 2016 Democratic primary. I ask, “Why in the heck are you voting for Hillary?”

Clinton is winning many southern primaries on the backs of black voters, who can’t seem to get enough of Hillary. “Maybe she is just a more familiar name,” is the explanation I often get from my own Afro-American friends, as they scratch their heads. If you go to Hillary Clinton’s website, her platform reads, “End the era of mass incarceration, reform mandatory minimum sentences, and end private prisons.” That’s what she says today, as she courts your black vote.

Here is what she actually did. Hillary Clinton, along with her husband, were part of “the New Democrats,” so-called “moderate Democrats” that were the brainchild of the Democratic Leadership Council who thought Democrats were getting too progressive. Two of their central platforms to attract middle class white Americans were welfare reform and a “crackdown on crime.”

It is a matter of historical record that in 1994 Hillary Clinton favored mass incarceration. Hillary Clinton appeared on C-Span in support of “The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act” of 1994. This act, which was one of Bill Clinton’s centerpiece legislation, spent $9.7 billion on new prisons. Hillary was touting the prison spending and unforgiving sentencing provisions as excellent legislation.

In fairness, Bernie Sanders did vote for the 1994 omnibus crime bill. He states in a February 25th press release that he did so because there was an assault weapons ban, which he supported, earning him the wrath of the NRA. There were also additional provisions for the Violence Against Women Act, as well as provisions for community policing.

But this is what Sanders said while in Congress addressing the bill: “Mr. Speaker, all the jails in the world, and we already imprison more people per capita than any other country, and all of the executions in the world, will not make that situation right. We can either educate or electrocute. We can create meaningful jobs, rebuilding our society, or we can build more jails.” Unlike Hillary, Bernie was always against mass incarceration.

I can understand why you, a black voter might feel that mass incarceration was too big a bargaining chip to give away for an assault weapons ban, provisions for the Violence Against Women’s Act, as well as funding for prevention programs. But Hillary Clinton was openly gun-ho for massive spending on additional prisons and more unforgiving prison sentences. Watch the Youtube “Hillary Clinton v. Bernie Sanders on the 1994 Crime Bill” if you don’t believe me.

Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, made the statement, “Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, resorted to dog whistle politics and dehumanizing language.” In 1996, when Bill Clinton was on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton referred to young gang members as “not just gangs of kids anymore, they are often the kinds of kids called super-predators, no conscious, no empathy. We can talk about why then ended up that way, but first we need to bring them to heel.”

Recently, Afro-American Ashley Williams paid $500 to attend a Hillary Clinton fundraiser and was thrown out for asking her to apologize for mass incarceration. In Clinton’s defense, Williams did not give Clinton enough of an opportunity to respond. But Clinton could have then addressed the question, maybe after Ashley Williams was just escorted out of the room.

There are definitely bright black scholars who know better than to vote Hillary. One is Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” She writes, “I can’t believe Hillary would be coasting into the primaries with her current margin of black support if most people knew how much damage the Clintons have done— the millions of families [that were] destroyed the last time they were in the White House thanks to their boastful embrace of the mass incarceration machine and their total capitulation to the right-wing narrative on race, crime, welfare and taxes.”

Photos are now appearing on Facebook of an August 13, 1963, arrest of a young University of Chicago student by the name of Bernie Sanders, who was arrested for protesting de facto school segregation in Chicago. For heaven’s sake my black brothers, get to know your candidates. Vote for the balding old guy with the arrest record.