HBCU Round-Up:MEAC Announces Weekly Men’s Basketball Honors

Coppin State junior Chas Brown was selected as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Men’s Basketball Player of the Week, the conference announced today. Howard’s Charles Williams earned Rookie of the Week honors, while Kyle Benton, of North Carolina Central, was named Defensive Player of the Week.

Brown led Coppin State to its third win in four games after recording his third consecutive game with 12 rebounds and scored 19 points for his third double-double of the season. He tied a season-best in rebounds and marked season-highs in both blocks with four and field goals made with nine. The 6-8 junior from Baltimore shot 75 percent from the field and was the MEAC’s top shot blocker last week along with the league’s second-leading rebounder.

Williams averaged 20 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks for the Bison last week. The freshman from Richmond, Va. native scored 28 points with five rebounds on the road at Norfolk State and had 12 points, six boards and two blocks versus North Carolina Central. This marks the seventh time Williams has captured rookie of the week honors this season.

Benton retains the MEAC’s Defensive Player of the Week honor for the second consecutive week and the third time this season. The Long Beach, Calif. native averaged 11 rebounds in two games last week while also registering a total of four blocks. Benton had nine rebounds and a steal at Howard and followed the performance up with 13 rebounds and four blocks versus Bethune-Cookman.

Other Top Performers

Desmond Williams (FAMU) scored 37 points, on 13-of-26 shooting, against Hampton and South Carolina State

Solomon Mangham (HOW) registered back-to-back double-doubles against North Carolina Central and Norfolk State.

Phillip Carr (MSU) averaged a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds in wins over Delaware State and Hampton.

Jordan Butler (NSU) recorded 21 points, 12 rebounds, one assist, five blocks and two steals against Bethune-Cookman and Howard.

Jonathan Wade (NSU) posted his sixth double-double in seven games, with 16 points and 11 rebounds, in the win over Howard.

Patrick Cole (NCCU) finished with 30 points, 16 rebounds, 12 assists and one steal in wins over Howard and Bethune-Cookman.

Casey Wells (SSU) set a new school Division I record for three-point field goals made with 10 in the win over North Carolina A&T State.

Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’ infuses horror with biting social satire

— With “Get Out,” writer-director-producer Jordan Peele — half of the “Key & Peele” comedy team — has delivered a bracing debut, a horror movie infused with biting social commentary and disarming humor.

Owing a debt to several culturally significant horror touchstones, most notably “The Stepford Wives,” the film niftily probes how African Americans are treated by well-meaning whites, before the slightly awkward exchanges and tone-deaf references give way to something considerably creepier lurking beneath the neatly manicured surface.

Daniel Kaluuya (featured in “Sicario”) stars as Chris, a photographer dating Rose (Allison Williams), who has convinced him to take a weekend trip to meet her parents. When he asks whether she has informed them that her new boyfriend is black, she assures him that her dad (Bradley Whitford) would have voted for Obama a third time if only he could.

The family’s idyllic country estate, and the warm reception Chris receives — including from Rose’s mom (Catherine Keener), a therapist who offers to use hypnosis to help him kick his smoking habit — initially comes across as welcoming, if perhaps trying a bit too hard. Think Woody Allen meeting Diane Keaton’s clan in “Annie Hall.”

Gradually, though, things begin to get weird, including the strange looks cast Chris’ way by the two African American servants (Betty Gabriel, Marcus Henderson), and the gathering of wealthy friends at which the family seems a little too eager to show Chris off.

The key lies in how Peele deftly unfolds the plot, which starts out like an updated version of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” a half-century later and morphs into what resembles a good feature-length episode of “Black Mirror” or “The Twilight Zone.” At first, Chris might even be guilty of paranoia, as Rose assures him her parents are simply kind of lame.

Peele nicely offsets the growing tension with comedy via Chris’ friend Rod (Montel “Lil Rel” Howery of NBC’s “The Carmichael Show”), a TSA agent with mild delusions of grandeur, who keeps warning his pal that not much good can come from meeting Rose’s folks.

The performances are uniformly good, especially in the blank-eyed, unsettling stares from the African Americans that Chris encounters. While the racial aspect feels provocative, the movie works on multiple levels, from the basic jump-out-at-you thrills to the way the action builds toward its big reveals.

Modest in scale (almost everything happens in one location), “Get Out” nevertheless signals Peele as a talent worth watching, joining the ranks of filmmakers who cut their teeth in the horror genre. Although the movie’s title comes in the form of a warning, in terms of simple exclamations, “Go see it” is equally sound advice.

“Get Out” will open in the U.S. on February 24. It’s rated R.

Bad heart? Time to hit the gym

— Rick Murphy, a real estate appraiser in Atlanta, had no idea he had a bad heart.

When Murphy turned 50, he decided it was time to get in shape. It wasn’t long before he progressed from running races to an Ironman triathlon.

A fellow triathlete recommended he get checked out by a sports cardiologist, so he went to see Dr. Jonathan Kim at Emory Healthcare in July 2015.

“The next thing you know, Dr. Kim is saying, ‘I think we need to do a heart catheterization on you.’ “

One of the heart’s main arteries was over 95% blocked. Murphy was in the operating room within a few days.

“I was obviously surprised,” said Kim. “He could’ve been that unfortunate terrible story where somebody drops dead.”

“My only symptom was a little extra fatigue,” said Murphy, now 55. “I chalked it up to working too much and not getting enough sleep.”

Murphy wouldn’t be running another Ironman anytime soon, but he was eager to get back to his normal routine. And Kim prescribed just that: more exercise. Though the benefits of exercise are clear for those with an injured heart, Kim said, patients often want to know how best to exercise, how much and how hard.

Increasingly, experts are pushing patients with heart problems harder than what was considered useful — or perhaps even safe — in the past.

Let’s get physical

The idea that exercise can help hearts recover is a relatively modern one.

Until the 1950s, doctors often told cardiac patients to avoid any physical activity at all. In 1952, the recommendation that heart attack patients get out of the hospital bed and into an armchair was seen as controversial. It wasn’t until the late ’50s that exercise guidelines emerged for these patients.

Nowadays, aerobic exercise is seen as a key to recovery, said Kim, who runs an exercise physiology lab.

“One of the tenets of what we do is that exercise is medicine,” he said.

Aerobic exercises like swimming, jogging and cycling raise the heart rate. Over time, the heart becomes more efficient, allowing it to pump more blood with less effort. Exercise can also reverse some of the effects of heart disease, like the narrowing of arteries.

“The goal is to raise and sustain that elevated heart rate in what we call a training heart rate zone,” said Dr. Jonathan Whiteson, medical director for cardiac rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center.

A typical target zone for aerobic exercise might be 70 to 80% of your maximum heart rate, said Whiteson, though many aim higher or lower.

Most people can calculate a ballpark maximum heart rate by subtracting their age from 220, said Whiteson. At 55, Murphy said his heart rate follows that trend to a T, peaking around 165. However, many heart attack survivors fall quite a bit lower, said Whiteson.

Exercise specialists like Whiteson and Kim use a battery of tests and gadgets to find each patient’s new normal — from heartbeat monitors to a mask that measures oxygen use. Once their patients are stable, it’s back to work — though slowly, at first.

“They try to get you up and moving around as soon as possible,” said Murphy.

A comeback workout

In recent years, doctors have continued to push the limits of what they thought cardiac patients could do, opting for high-intensity interval training over more moderate exercise, said Ray Squires, program director of cardiac health and rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic.

During high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, people push themselves for brief intervals — from 30 seconds to a few minutes — followed by a longer periods of lower-intensity exercise.

In 2009, Mayo Clinic began recommending HIIT to people who had been diagnosed with heart attack or heart failure.

“I don’t know if there was anybody else doing it in the United States” at the time, Squires said.

At Mayo, Squires and his team only initiate HIIT once their patients can do 20 minutes of moderate exercise, which may include brisk walking or even mowing the lawn.

High-intensity training has many different “flavors,” Squires said, which can depend on the age of the patient, their fitness level, the nature of their heart problem and other medical conditions, like arthritis, that might make certain exercises more difficult. There is no one way to do HIIT, he said.

Patients are often scared to push their hearts soon after a heart attack, Squires said, but most trust their doctors enough to try. Among the several thousand patients who have gone through Mayo’s 36-week program, “we have never seen a single event during HIIT,” he said.

Patients are more at risk for a physical injury than another heart attack, he added.

In one study, researchers in the Netherlands recorded only two fatal cardiac arrests over 46,000 hours of supervised high-intensity exercise. These cases were so few that they were unable to find a difference between that and moderate exercise; the authors concluded that the benefits of HIIT outweighed the risks.

Some studies suggest that high-intensity exercise might actually be better for cardiac patients than moderate-intensity exercise, nearly doubling their cardiorespiratory fitness according to one analysis.

“HIIT is not new,” said Squires. “It’s been used by athletes probably since the beginning of time.”

The first studies on HIIT in cardiac patients occurred in the late ’70s, but they were largely ignored, said Squires, even though they demonstrated “dramatic improvements” in many of these patients.

But the trend caught on among rehab centers and exercise enthusiasts alike. The American College of Sports Medicine listed HIIT as the No. 3 fitness trend for 2017. Gymgoers are increasingly looking to short, intense workouts as a way to pack the benefits of exercise into a shorter session.

This contrasts with expert recommendations that people get 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week.

“Some people just don’t have the time,” said Kim. “Some people just want to push themselves harder.”

But the science is still emerging, said Kim. For patients with an injured heart, it can be crucial to discuss their goals and fears with a cardiologist and personalize their exercise plan, he said.

“In the field of sports cardiology, we still have a lot of limitations between what we know and what we don’t know.”

It all ‘works out’ in the end

The benefits of cardiac rehab may be limited less by emerging science, and more by who has access to it.

A study released earlier this month added to findings that women and black patients are less likely to be referred to cardiac rehab than their male and white counterparts. Those with insurance coverage are three times more likely to be referred to cardiac rehab, according to another study.

But despite the high-tech tools and education that people can access in these programs, they aren’t a hard requirement for exercising after a heart problem, said Kim

“The benefits of exercise are as tried and true as anything we know about,” said Kim, “whether you have the technology or not.”

Ironman triathlete Rick Murphy has been following Kim’s orders; with 18 months of rehab under his belt, he has only two more to go.

Murphy has already signed up for a triathlon in May. He said that his experience inspired people close to him to get checked out, as well.

“I had a lot of friends who couldn’t believe that this actually happened to me after what I’ve been doing,” said Murphy. “It rocked a lot of people’s world.”

Outgoing US ambassador: America is ‘not an ethno-state’

— An outgoing career ambassador urged his colleagues on Friday to defend the rules-based world order in which the US supports a Europe “whole, free and at peace,” a thinly veiled critique of the Trump administration, which has questioned the importance of the transatlantic alliance.

Ambassador Daniel Fried, the outgoing coordinator for sanctions policy, did not mention President Donald Trump or speak directly to his policies, but the State Department officials present understood his meaning when he said “we are not an ethno-state, with identity rooted in shared blood.”

“The option of a white man’s republic ended at Appomattox,” he said in a farewell address at the State Department, referencing the 1865 battle that led to the surrender of the Confederate army and ended the Civil war.

Hundreds of foreign and civil service officers and current and former White House and Treasury officials gathered Tuesday to bid farewell to Fried, whose Foreign Service career spanned 40 years and seven presidencies.

His comments came amid widespread concerns about Trump’s policy toward Russia and what many see as contradictory messages from Washington regarding the future relationship between the US and Europe, including whether America will support the continuation of the European Union.

“Nothing can be taken for granted, and this great achievement is now under assault by Russia,” Fried said, referring to the freedom and security of Europe. “It is for the present generation to defend and, when the time comes again, extend freedom in Europe.”

Acting Deputy Secretary of State Tom Shannon called Fried a “national treasure” for his work to help advance freedom and security in Central and Eastern Europe throughout the Cold War and after the fall of the Soviet Union. He served as US ambassador to Poland and director for European affairs at the National Security Council before becoming the assistant secretary for Europe at the State Department.

In recent years Fried took on some of the most thankless tasks of US diplomacy — lobbying countries to take in Guantanamo detainees who were released from captivity and coordinating sanctions policy against North Korea over its nuclear program and against Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

Fried’s departure leaves another hole in the State Department’s senior ranks, with most career ambassadors having already being asked to leave or choosing to retire rather than work for the Trump administration.

Come Together for Greater Financial Access and Equality

The African-American community of Baltimore has a proud tradition of making progress in the face of changing and challenging situations. This community contributed greatly to the renowned shipbuilding, steel, auto and textile industries on which the area thrived. Generations of determined people helped nurture icons like Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice; Frederick Douglass, the prominent abolitionist and statesman; and Billie Holiday, the famed jazz musician.

During Black History Month, we celebrate the survival and achievements of African-Americans while never losing sight of the ongoing efforts to achieve social justice and economic equality. In a world where wealth disparities continue to exist, we need to help improve the lives of those around us. And one of the steps in this process is ensuring equal access to financial services and technology.

Here in the Baltimore area, nearly 6 percent of families are unbanked and more than 21 percent are under-banked, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Collectively considered “financially underserved,” these families have no or only limited access to traditional financial services, such as a bank account. Instead, they often use check cashers, payday lenders and money orders to conduct even their most basic financial transactions— from cashing a paycheck to paying their electric bill. The FDIC also found that unbanked and underbanked rates were higher among minority households.

In 2015, only 32 percent of consumer transactions were completed using cash, showing the growing trend toward other forms of payment such as debit, credit and prepaid cards. While not a panacea for closing the vast wealth gap between the races, today’s electronic payment technology can help family’s access and use their money in a more convenient, efficient and less costly way. For instance, payroll cards allow workers to receive their wages directly on their card, much like banked workers have their paycheck deposited directly into a bank account.

This eliminates the time and money workers would otherwise spend to collect their paper paycheck and cash it at a check-cashing center. Workers can pay bills instantly online and use electronic and mobile tools to make a budget and track their spending. Payroll cards have the added benefit of saving money for employers of all sizes by allowing them to eliminate the cost of cutting paper checks.

As cards and other forms of electronic payment technology come into greater use,there is both the need and the opportunity to engage in efforts to help improve the financial health of the community by making the best use of what we have. That’s one of the reasons why I am a member of the African American Advisory Board for Master Your Card, a community empowerment program.

Let me explain why this education is so important. While the average person knows how to use their debit card at the register to pay for groceries, we find that many first-time card users assume they have to go to an ATM each time they have a transaction to make. Through Master Your Card, we teach financially underserved individuals how to use this technology to access their money in a convenient and secure way. For instance, I worked with the program and the A. Philip Randolph Institute to facilitate the development of a toolkit that provides young adults and seniors with information and tips on how they can join the digital economy and achieve greater financial security.

The African-American community has a rich history of coming together to make great strides and help to propel our country forward. By rising to the challenges facing

the financially underserved and using the right tools, we can empower each other to achieve greater financial access and equality.

Fred Mason is president of the Maryland and District of Columbia AFL-CIO and a member of the Master Your Card African American Advisory Board.

Concluding Black History Month with “positive stories about positive people”

Hello my dear friends: The wonderful the weather is fit for a wonderful month of the year! Black History Month is one of my favorite months of the year. It encouraged me over 16 years ago to publish my book, African American Entertainment in Baltimore, to preserve the legacy of everyday people in Baltimore —especially Pennsylvania Avenue; a book of positive stories about positive people in pictures. It was and still is a success.

I so enjoy writing about the entertainment community of entertainment; it has given me lots of stories to tell. Well, my dear friends we are not finished yet. To close out Black History Month, I want to tell you about James Hamlin and his family, who built a bakery from the ground up called the Avenue Bakery, located in the heart of Pennsylvania Avenue on the corner of Baker Street. Now six years later, the Avenue Bakery is the first stop on The Pennsylvania Avenue National Heritage Tour, which continues

to attract a robust, eclectic, growing following statewide and regionally of all races and ages. Distinguished for its tasty offering of original Poppay’s Rolls,

heirloom-inspired baked goods. The tour is a museum-quality experience featuring a gallery stroll of archive footage and framed photos that bring the golden era of Pennsylvania Avenue to life under one roof. So my friends, not only does this black-owned bakery have a gallery of famous African American locals on the walls, but the owner is the baker behind

the best out-of-site homemade rolls made right on the premises. They melt in your mouth and would make your mother smile.

Adding to the legacy, James Hamlin invites you all to the unveiling of the photo montage featuring the life and impact of Thurgood Marshal, created by Stuart Hudgins on Friday, Feb. 24, 11

a.m., at the Avenue Bakery. The montage highlights his life and legacy. We will see you there.

The Harlem Gardens Apartments, located at 1700 Edmondson Ave. in Baltimore is having a Black History Celebration with music by Sister Drummers; griot Angela Dobson, and yours

truly will be there for a book signing on Friday, Feb. 24 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Black History Month ends with a jazz concert featuring Dr. Phill Butts Sunset Jazz Quartet with vocalist Denyse Pearson and Reggie Jackson on Sat., Feb. 25, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Caton Castle Lounge, 20 S. Caton Ave. Cash bar and the kitchen is open serving some dynamite soul food. For more information, call 443-859-0124.

Well, my dear friends, enjoy this beautiful weather, and be kind to each other. I got to go; I am out of space. I will see you somewhere, somehow. Remember, if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me atrosapryor@aol.com. UNTIL THE NEXT TIME, I’M MUSICALLY YOURS.

Dear President Trump: It’s Time to Start Meeting with Real Black Republicans

I don’t know why I have become the repository for the frustrations among Black Republicans across the country, but I have. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t get calls from Black Republicans

who feel totally and thoroughly ignored not only by you and your fledgling administration, but also by the national party, as well.

I am a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist published in over 200 newspapers every week. Last year, I wrote several columns supporting you, when it wasn’t cool to do so. Last December, I had to deconstruct the liberal attacks on Senator Jeff Sessions and your aide Steve Bannon.

I tell you this simply as a way of saying that because of the 25-plus years that I have served this party, I think I have earned the right to say what I am about to say to you in this column.

Let me be clear, Mr. President, I want absolutely nothing from you or your administration other than success.

Since the election, you have met with far more black Democrats than you have black Republicans— it’s not even close. In your defense, you have never been active in the Republican Party, thus you have no basis for knowing many black Republicans. You know many more black Democrats, simply because you hung out in liberal cities like New York and Los Angeles.

Even your top black staffer is a Democrat with absolutely no institutional knowledge of the Republican Party’s relationship with the black community— past, present or future. So, their

natural inclination is to reach out to all of their Democratic friends for invitations to meet with you and to participate with you in last week’s Black History Month’s event.

Your direct interactions with the black community, for the most part, have been unmitigated disasters, especially, your meeting last year at the black church in Detroit and last week’s event at the White House. There are several major black churches in Detroit, led by black Republican pastors, that you could have attended, but your staff chose a church led by a left-leaning minister. Last week, you held a listening session at the White House in honor of Black History Month and you invited more black Democrats than black Republicans.

Mr. President, do you realize that you had Blacks serving on your own transition team, who were not invited to attend your event last week? How in the hell is that even possible?

Speaker Paul Ryan has a black chief of staff in his speaker’s office; this is the first time in the history of the country this has happened, and he was not there. Your remarks, at a minimum, should have acknowledged this historic appointment by Ryan, after all, isn’t that the whole purpose behind Black History Month?

Mr. President, you have at least four blacks on the executive committee of the RNC who have little to no engagement with you or your staff. This is totally bewildering to me. They are in effect part of the board of directors of the national party and no one around you seems to value or seek their input. Don’t you think they should have been invited to the White House last week?

This is what happens when you surround yourself with black Democrats; they have no idea who any of these people are. The only thing that your senior staffer is doing is marking “their” territory, ostentatiously making it clear that they are the gatekeeper to all things relative to the black community. That staff is failing you, Mr. Trump.

This weekend at “The Black Republican Trailblazer Awards Luncheon” I will honor Maxine Blake and Gerald Boyd, Sr., two black Republicans that you should have on speed dial. You should

also get to know John Sibley Butler, who is a major serial entrepreneur. You can find out more about this event at: www.bafbf.org.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. President, the very party you now lead has tried to steal this event from me and has even filed a lawsuit against me to pressure me to walk away from the event I created. How is that for celebrating Black History Month? But I digress.

Far too often, Republicans hire blacks, who may be good, competent people, but are wrong for the job. Like you, I’m a scrapper and a counter puncher. I grew up around the Spinks family of boxing fame in St. Louis, Mo.

In all honesty, Mr. President, you have no blacks around you who are fighters— absolutely none.

I am a graduate of Oral Roberts University and one of the things Oral would always tell me was, “Go into every man’s world and meet them at the point of their need.”

When will you come into our world, Mr. President? A great place to start is by meeting with those I will be honoring this weekend.

Raynard Jackson is founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future (BAFBF), a federally registered 527 Super PAC established to get more blacks involved in the Republican Party. BAFBF focuses on the Black entrepreneur. For more information about BAFBF, visit www.bafbf.org.

Five prospects to watch at NFL Combine

Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh and Eric Decosta will make the annual trip to Indianapolis next week for the NFL Combine. Assistant coaches, including Bobby Engram and Chris Hewitt will

also be on hand to evaluate talent for the Baltimore Ravens.

The 2017 NFL Draft is the opportunity for the Ravens to replace some of the key pieces lost to free agency and retirement. Steve Smith Sr. has officially moved on to the next chapter of his life.

The veteran receiver will now serve as an analyst for NFL Network.

Zach Orr was forced to retire after a neck injury revealed a condition that could have caused paralysis and there is a good chance that standout defensive tackle Brandon Williams may receive a significant free agent offer to play elsewhere.

The Ravens brass is now charged with finding players that can fill the gaps and help the team get back to the playoffs after a two-year absence.

Baltimore has the No. 16 pick, which will give the team access to a difference maker. The Ravens have found plenty of success drafting players in the later rounds as well.

Here are five players to watch for the Ravens:

John Ross | 5-foot-11, 190 pounds |WR | Washington:

The Ravens have possessed the need for speed over the last few years. It was a major factor in their selection of Breshad Perriman in 2015 and a big reason why they signed Mike Wallace last year. Ross has plenty of speed, which will be on display at the Combine. He has reportedly blazed a 4.30 time in the forty-yard dash already. Ross’ speed combined with Joe Flacco’s big arm

would give the Ravens the ability to score from anywhere on the field.

Joe Williams | 5-foot-11, 205 pounds | RB | Utah

Williams is a home run threat at running back that instantly provides a jolt to the team’s speed. Selecting the senior running back gives the Ravens a player that has the grit to run the ball inside as well the acceleration to get outside and turn the corner on stretch plays. The senior running back has overcome a lot and developed a great deal of mental toughness as a result. If the Ravens interview Williams at the Combine, they will come away thoroughly impressed with how mature he is.

Montravious Adams | 6-foot-3, 308 pounds | DT | Auburn

Adams is an option for the Ravens if they lose Williams or fellow defensive tackle Lawrence Guy to free agency. The Auburn senior has violent hands and is a disruptive player in the middle of the defensive line. Baltimore places heavy stock in players they see at the Senior Bowl. Adams was a standout during the week of practices. His athleticism and agility will show in the bag drills.

Haasan Reddick | 6-foot-1, 230 pounds | LB | Temple

Speaking of Senior Bowl performances, Reddick put on one of the best performances in Mobile. Having played defensive end at Temple, Reddick needed to show that he is able to drop

back into coverage as part of his conversion to linebacker. Reddick showed that he is more than capable of handling the change. He also dominated in pass rushing drills. The

Ravens could select Reddick to fill the void left by Orr’s retirement.

Marlon Humphrey | 6-foot-1, 200 pounds | CB | Alabama

A list of Ravens prospects is never complete without a player from Alabama on the card. Having played for Alabama, Ozzie Newsome always has his eyes on the talent that is coming out of Tuscaloosa. Humphrey has NFL bloodlines. His father, Bobby was a running back for the Denver Broncos in the 1990s. The athletic defensive back is going to excel in all of the drills at the Combine. His toughness on the field will be an attractive trait for the Ravens as they continue to add to their secondary.

Innovative new toolkit designed to help reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy

— For many in the African-American community, the black church has historically been a place where tough community issues are addressed, and that is why The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (The National Campaign), Values Partnerships (VPI), and prominent faith leaders nationwide have teamed up to provide important resources to black clergy focused on early and unintended pregnancy.

Newly developed resources available at www.TheNationalCampaign.org/blackchurch, include: free videos, fact sheets, tips, and other information to help church leaders learn about these issues and bring them to their congregations in meaningful ways.

“The Black church has always been a powerful force for good and is uniquely situated to provide information, support, and guidance on relationships, sex, contraception, and childbearing,” said Ginny Ehrlich, CEO, The National Campaign. “As a national organization committed to serving all women, we welcome this partnership with VPI and black clergy leaders nationwide.”

Although the teen birth rate for young black women in the United States has declined 49 percent in the past decade and 73 percent since peaking in 1991, it is still the case that roughly four in 10 black girls get pregnant before the age of 20. Among black women of all ages, 64 percent of pregnancies are described by women themselves as unplanned.

Research shows that having an unplanned pregnancy as a teenager or in one’s young adulthood has a huge impact on a woman, her partner, her family, and her community.

“The black church and teen and unplanned pregnancy project from VPI and The National Campaign comes at a critically important time,” said Joshua DuBois, Founder/CEO, Values Partnerships. “The African-American church has been at the forefront of social change for generations and this is a moment where the church can rally around teen and unplanned pregnancy and make real progress on behalf of teens, women, and entire families.”

Among those who lent their expertise to this project and appear in the videos are Rev. W. Antoni Sinkfield and First Lady Kristy Sinkfield of Payne Chapel AME Church in Nashville, Tenn.; Rev. Que English of the Bronx Christian Fellowship Church in New York City; Dr. Yvonne Bennett of Hallelujah Christian Fellowship Ministries in Union, NJ; Rev. Kip Bernard Banks, Sr. of East Washington Heights Baptist Church in Washington, DC; Bishop Darren Ferguson of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Arverne (Far Rockaway), NY; Rev. Derrick Harkins of the Union Theological Seminary in New York City; and Rev. Tony Lee of Community of Hope AME Church in Hillcrest Heights, MD.

“Stop being afraid or ashamed or whatever it is about dealing with the realities of human beings, being sexual beings. Have that conversation and create safe ground in the life of the church,” was the advice from Rev. Antoni Sinkfield of Payne Chapel AME Church in Nashville, Tennessee, for his colleagues.

“When our kids come to church, they just want someone to love and care about them. And out of that love and care emerges conversations about things that are important to them,” First Lady Sinkfield continued.

“Teenage and unplanned pregnancy is definitely an issue that impacts our communities,” said Rev. Lee of Community of Hope AME Church of Hillcrest Heights, Maryland. “The church needs to deal with the issues of the day and issues that impact people. The church should be a place where people can come not just for the answers to their problems but to be able to talk through the challenges of their lives.”

The videos address topics such as what churches can do and what scripture says. The fact sheets, tips and videos available at www.TheNationalCampaign.org/blackchurch were developed in response to a The National Campaign Black Clergy Convening in 2015.

Jack & Jill of America Arundel Bay Area Chapter inspires kids to read

— Arundel Bay Area Chapter members of Jack & Jill of America partnered with local organizations to install a reading room in the child care center at Sarah’s House, a supportive housing program offering emergency and transitional housing for homeless families in Anne Arundel County.

Child care is among an array of services offered to residents at the facility.

In addition to building a culturally diverse reading corner, ABA members painted the space, replaced office furniture, and with support from the Target Corporation refinished the flooring with colorful, kid-friendly rugs. The space was decorated to provide a cozy environment for children to gather and read.

Earlier this month, the space was dedicated to Harriett E. Smith, the beloved director of child care for 10 years who passed away suddenly in November 2016.

“It is a delight for Sarah’s House Child Care to have received such a useful and beautiful donation,” A. Tucker, Sarah’s House school age liaison declared.

The President of the ABA Chapter, L.T. Harden reported, “children’s literacy is a national focus of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Literacy is inextricably tied to children’s success in life. As a Jack and Jill of America Chapter, we are elated that we can help support children’s literacy in our community. We thank everyone who helped make the reading corner a reality. We hope the reading corner will be in existence for years to come.”

The ABA chapter was formed in October 1990 and its mission has not changed. Since its inception, the ABA Chapter (formerly known as the Greater Glen Burnie Chapter) has been involved with community initiatives. This past year Chapter children and members volunteered at a shelter, donated books to reading program, made sandwiches for the homeless, caroled for senior citizens and made weekend food backpacks for needy children.

Jack and Jill of America, Inc., is a membership organization of mothers with children ages 2-19, dedicated to nurturing future African-American leaders by strengthening children through leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving and civic duty. The organization aims to seek for all children the same advantages which Chapter members desire for their own children and support all national, regional and local legislation aimed at bettering the conditions of all children.

The ABA Chapter looks forward to continued involvement and support of children in the Anne Arundel County community.