Cowboys and Cardinals lock arms in anthem protests

The Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals on Monday night locked arms with teammates in response to President Donald Trump’s caustic comments. But it was the scripture reference on the hand of the woman belting out the National Anthem that resonated with many.

The scripture, written on the hand of pop star Jordin Sparks, is Proverbs 31: 8-9: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Many took to social media to praise Sparks.

The Cowboys’ and Cardinals’ display came after a weekend in which Trump slammed the National Football League, and players and coaches for protesting during the anthem. The players responded Sunday by kneeling, locking elbows or remaining in the locker room during the pregame performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Members of the Cowboys and Cardinals stood in separate locations for the anthem. The teams had talked about a collective display of unity but did not do so, said ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters. No member of either team was shown in the televised broadcast kneeling or sitting.

Before Sparks’ rendition, the Cowboys, including owner Jerry Jones, knelt in the middle of the field. Boos could be heard from the crowd in Glendale, Arizona.

The players’ demonstration was intended as a statement for equality and a representation of unity, but they wanted to separate that message from the National Anthem, according to Salters, who spoke with Jones’ daughter, Charlotte Jones Anderson, the team’s executive vice president.

As the Cardinals players, coaches and owners gathered in the end zone to honor the flag and members of the armed forces, public address announcer Jim Barnett invited the crowd to “unite as well and do the same with your fellow fans, regardless of jersey color.”

‘An individual right of an American’

Earlier, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said it’s up to players to decide whether to stand or kneel during the anthem. “That is an individual right of an American,” he said.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was reticent when questioned by reporters.

“We have an approach that we believe in, and no real comment beyond that,” he said.

They kept grilling him. Will the players do anything? Has there been a discussion?

“No,” Garrett said, drawing an awkward silence as reporters waited for him to elaborate. He didn’t.

Another journalist asked: Did Garrett not have an opinion on the protests, or was he simply reluctant to share it?

“I just don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interests for me to comment on that,” he said.

With that, the press conference moved on to football matters. It’s worth noting though that the man who signs Garrett’s paychecks has been vocal about the anthem protests.

Last year, when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick saw only a modicum of support for the anthem protests he’s pioneered, Cowboys owner Jones told a Fort Worth radio station that such demonstrations were “really disappointing.”

Jones reiterated those sentiments last week, telling Fox Business that the pregame National Anthem wasn’t the time for players to express themselves in society.

“That’s not the place to do anything other than honor the flag and everybody that’s given up a little for it,” he said.

‘Most reputable men I’ve ever met’

Cowboys players, in their public statements, have largely trod the middle ground on the issue, while at least two Cardinals declined to rule out the possibility of protesting.

Arians has said he concurs with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who called Trump’s remarks divisive and said they demonstrate “an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL” and its players.

“I’ve been in locker rooms for 25 years, and some of the most reputable men I’ve ever met wear that uniform,” Arians said. “To even overcome the things in their life to get to the NFL is amazing. What they’ve done in the last month for hurricane relief victims speaks volumes of what we’re all about in the NFL.”

Offensive lineman D.J. Humphries was less diplomatic, declining to call Trump by his name.

“You can’t talk to that person,” he said. “You’re talking to a wall. You may as well talk to my locker because you’re going to get the same response … I hate that this happened. I’m just trying to figure a way that I can help my people, and help the people on this side of the spectrum understand right and wrong.”

Humphries echoed the words of defensive end Frostee Rucker, who said now is the time to come together and “show compassion, love and everything else we do.”

“It’s a brotherhood in the locker room. We’re out in the community, and we know ourselves. We know everything we’re about. We can’t let one single person, even though it’s the President, dictate how we feel. We stick together. We’re in a union. If someone takes a knee, it’s almost like we all take a knee.”

Trump: Players should not ‘disrespect’ flag

The latest chapter in the controversy came Friday night when Trump told those attending a political rally in Alabama that NFL owners should fire any “son of a bitch” who stages a protest during the National Anthem.

The President’s focus remained on sports Saturday morning, as he tweeted he was rescinding a White House invitation for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors because two-time league MVP Steph Curry was “hesitating” in accepting the presidential offer. (Curry actually had flat-out declined the invitation.)

Hours later, the President went back in on athletes following in the knee prints of Kaepernick, who has said he refuses to stand during the anthem because he cannot “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Read Trump’s two-part tweet: “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

Trump went on to make the protests his cause du jour — or more accurately, de deux jours — as 15 of his next 23 tweets over the weekend addressed the demonstrations.

His stance gained traction among his base and some NFL fans, who took to social media to tell athletes to stick to sports and skip the politics. Others used hashtags such #standforouranthem and #standfortheflag, tweeting that they were going to follow Trump’s advice to tune out.

‘That offends everybody’

Within the NFL there was a starkly different response, which was also reflected on social media and in some fan bases. Trump’s criticism seemed to galvanize the league’s players and coaches.

In some cases, team owners showed up on the sideline to lock arms with their players. Trump supporter Shad Khan, who owns the Jacksonville Jaguars, was one of them. Trump friend Robert Kraft stood in the owners box, hand over heart, before his New England Patriots played, but he said he was “deeply disappointed” in Trump’s remarks.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees called Trump’s remarks “unbecoming of the office of the President,” while Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy said the President “is just acting like a jerk.”

Miami Dolphins safety Mike Thomas asked, “You’re the leader of the free world, and this is what you’re talking about?”

The Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans followed the Steelers’ lead, staying in the locker room for the anthem. Most teams chose to lock arms in a show of unity, but even among those squads, some players opted to kneel. The Baltimore Ravens’ Terrell Suggs and the Denver Broncos’ Von Miller lent their considerable star power to the protests, kneeling along with dozens of others players.

Sports commentator Bob Costas told CNN on Monday the response among players and coaches was “universal” and said, “There’s almost no one in the NFL who wants to support or rationalize the tone or content of President Trump’s remarks.”

Asked why he felt Trump’s words united the league when the protests have been going on for more than a year, Costas compared the President’s remarks on the anthem protests to his words after white nationalists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Well, when you call people sons of bitches across the board, that offends everybody. White and black, they’ve stood shoulder to shoulder on those fields, in those locker rooms. What kind of a statement is that to make?” Costas said.

“And I don’t think it’s irrelevant that clearly the President had more passion and conviction for those remarks than he did — when he finally got around after equivocating — to distancing himself to some extent from white nationalists and neo-Nazis. He clearly had more fervor for this than for that.”

After 15 years in vegetative state, man responds to nerve stimulation

A car accident at 20 years old left a French man in a vegetative state for 15 years. But after neurosurgeons implanted a vagus nerve stimulator in his chest, the man, now 35, is showing signs of consciousness, according to a study published Monday in the journal Current Biology.

Vagus nerve stimulation is already used to help people with epilepsy and depression. This cranial nerve runs from the brain to other parts of the body, including the heart, lungs and gut; vagus means “wandering” in Latin.

The study results challenge ideas that consciousness disorders lasting longer than 12 months are irreversible, the researchers believe.

A demonstration of what’s possible

Vagus nerve activity is “important for arousal, alertness and the fight-or-flight response,” wrote Dr. Angela Sirigu in an email. She is an author of the study and neuroscientist at the Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod in Lyon, France.

Sirigu and her colleagues decided to test the ability of vagus nerve stimulation to restore consciousness in a patient in a vegetative state. Patients in a vegetative state show no evidence of consciousness, mental function or motor function. Unlike a coma, a vegetative state includes intermittent periods of eye opening; this seemingly hopeful sign, though, is not a normal waking, just a random physiological occurrence.

Vagus nerve stimulation begins with a surgeon implanting a device in the chest and threading a wire under the skin. This wire joins the vagus nerve and the device, which sends electrical signals along the nerve to the brain stem (where the spinal cord and brain connect) and in turn this transmits impulses to certain areas in the brain.

Stimulating the vagus nerve activates “a natural physiological mechanism,” wrote Sirigu in an email.

Sirigu and her colleagues selected the man, who had been in a vegetative state for 15 years “showing no sign of change since his car accident,” she wrote. “We therefore put ourselves in a difficult challenge by selecting a patient with the worst outcome.”

The reason for that choice is that if any changes occurred in the patient after vagus nerve stimulation, then “these could not be the result of chance,” she added.

After a single month of stimulation, the patient’s attention, movements and brain activity significantly improved, according to the authors.

“Our results show major changes at the brain level,” Sirigu said. One electroencephalogram or EEG signal, “a brain rhythm previously shown to distinguish vegetative from minimally conscious state patients, significantly increased,” she wrote, particularly in areas important for “movement, body sensations and awareness.” A PET scan, a type of imaging test, showed increases in metabolic activity in the brain, as well.

Dr. Nicholas Schiff, a neuroscientist at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian who also researches consciousness, said some will look at this case and say, “It’s one patient, and they didn’t really move him into a new functional category. And then they will say, ‘What’s the point here?’ ” said Schiff, who was not involved in this study.

Yet the new study is “another demonstration of what is possible to do, and it’s a new technique, and it might have some real advantages for some patients,” he said.

The human brain’s ‘greater potential’

“The general point here is that taken together with all the other information that we have now, it’s very clear that the severely injured human brain has greater potential than it’s given credit for,” Schiff said. “So you can lay around for years and, in principle, still be responsive to medications, devices and other things.”

Even with that much brain injury, you can still “move the dial,” said Schiff.

What’s new in this study is stimulation of the vagal nerve on the outside of the brain, he said. “The nerve sends impulses down into the stomach area,” he explained. Instead, the researchers send impulses up through the nerve, and that activates the brain through multiple synaptic pathways.

In the United States, an estimated 50,000 patients are in a vegetative state, and about 300,000 are in a minimally conscious state, Schiff said.

“We’ve now known for a long time that we can do something for very severely injured brains, but the science has not been met with any kind of infrastructure to catch up with it,” he said. More funding for research is needed, he added.

Dr. James L. Bernat, a professor of neurology and medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, referred to the new case report as “provocative” and “exciting.”

Bernat, who also was not involved in the research, praised Sirigu and her colleagues for their choice of patient: someone in a long-term vegetative state.

“If they had, for example, chosen someone who had been in a vegetative state for three months after a traumatic brain injury and then showed improvement a month later with the intervention, a critic might say, ‘Well, wait a minute. We know that a lot of people who are vegetative for three months spontaneously improve in that time period, so it may not be the intervention,’ ” Bernat said.

He noted that every case of vegetative state is unique based on what caused damage to the brain, how severe that injury was and what regions were harmed.

A vegetative state can be caused by a variety of injuries, including traumatic brain injury, injury to neurons caused by a lack of oxygen and blood flow during cardiac arrest or meningitis, he explained.

For these reasons, the vagus nerve stimulation technique will not work with all patients, Bernat noted, still it’s worth doing more studies to find out which patients will benefit from it.

A better understanding of how brain damage harms consciousness would involve learning about how the brain maps the pathways of normal consciousness, said Bernat. “How does normal consciousness occur? And how does unconscious occur?” Bernat asked. “There’s a lot of basic work that needs to be done.”

Plausibly, this work would also contribute to explaining neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease, as well as cognitive impairment resulting from traumatic brain injury.

New research of consciousness “has the potential to extend beyond the relatively small group of people who have these conditions,” said Bernat. Consciousness disorders are, in a sense, “an orphan group of diseases that has been somewhat neglected, not entirely, but somewhat by funding agencies,” Bernat said. “I would like to see more funding for research.”

Sirigu said she is planning a large study involving collaboration with several research centers to confirm and extend the therapeutic potential of the vagus nerve stimulation technique.

“More basic research will also be important for advancing our understanding of this fascinating capacity of our mind to produce conscious experience,” she said.

Charles Bradley, soul singer who found fame late in life, dies at 68

Singer Charles Bradley, who was known as the “Screaming Eagle of Soul” because of his raspy voice and stirring performances, has died.

He was 68.

Bradley died in New York on Saturday surrounded by family, friends and some of his bandmembers, according to a statement on his website.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Charles Bradley. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” it said.

The soul singer was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2016, and he started performing on the road this year after receiving a clean bill of health.

But earlier this month, he canceled tour dates in the US, South America and Europe, saying his cancer has returned and spread to his liver, and he needed to focus on his treatment.

“I love all of you out there that made my dreams come true. When I come back, I’ll come back strong, with God’s love. With God’s will, I’ll be back soon,” he said.

Bradley found fame in his later years, releasing his debut album “No Time For Dreaming” at age 62. The album was named Rolling Stone Magazine’s top 50 albums of 2011. His next album, “Victim of Love,” was released two years later, followed earlier this year by his third and last album, “Changes.”

He expressed his love for legendary singer James Brown, and he has said he was inspired to start singing at a later age after watching him perform. Before his rise to fame, he took gigs as a Brown impersonator in small clubs.

The Florida native has called New York home for the last two decades.

A documentary on his life, “Charles Bradley: Soul of America,” followed his journey and rise to fame.

Tesla drops the cheapest Model S

Tesla is dropping the cheapest version of the Model S sedan from its line-up. It also happens to be the only rear-wheel drive version of that car now on the market.

Tesla’s Model S 75 costs about $70,000, making it the least expensive Model S currently sold. It has a 348 horsepower electric motor and an EPA-estimated driving range of 249 miles.

Now Tesla’s least expensive Model S will be the 75D, which only comes with all-wheel-drive and starts at $75,000. The S 75D has the same size battery pack as the discontinued model but slightly longer range. The D stands for “Dual Motor,” since there are separate electric motors for front and back wheels.

For shoppers looking to pay much less — and who don’t care about having all-wheel-drive — Tesla’s smaller, less luxurious Model 3 sedan recently went into production. Starting prices for that car, currently only available with rear-wheel-drive, are about half that of the Model S. An all-wheel-drive Model 3 will be available next Spring.

All-wheel-drive Teslas get better traction on wet or snowy roads. They also have slightly more range because they use power more efficiently.

All-wheel-drive is a popular option on all sorts of luxury vehicles, according to the automotive Web site,

Dr. Aminta Hawkins Breaux makes history as BSU’s first female president

In her historic role as Bowie State University’s first female president, Dr. Aminta Hawkins Breaux says that she is ready to lead the top 25 HBCU into the school’s next phase of growth and development.

Following the celebrated legacy of Dr. Mickey L. Burnim, the former BSU president that served the institution for nearly 11 years, Breaux said that she is thrilled and honored to accept the leadership role.

“When I look at issues that African American women have faced in this country, it makes me realize how very proud I am to get to this point,” Breaux said about serving as BSU’s first female president. “I have received so much positive feedback from faculty, students and staff and recognize that this is a huge responsibility that is very exciting and I wholeheartedly serve in leadership role with great distinction.”

Though Breaux has only officially been in office since July 1, the former vice president for advancement at Millersville University in Pennsylvania has already started to outline new initiatives.

Heavily involved with community building, Breaux noted that she wanted to enrich the neighborhoods surrounding the university while preparing students for the ever-changing workforce.

“Partnerships are going to be extremely important. We want to reach out to our business leaders and the rest of our community and help them see the value that our students and faculty bring to this area,” Breaux said. “This campus is filled with rich opportunity and initiatives and strong academic programs, but we are also a part of a larger scheme. Initially, I want people to know that we are a part of this community…We want to begin looking at our business community, business leaders and partnering with businesses in the area to make sure that we are preparing our students for the workforce…not just for today, but for tomorrow.”

Though the university is fully-equipped with state of the art facilities including a Fine and Performing Arts Center that opened in 2012 and an elaborate Center for Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Nursing that opened this year, Breaux said that this only just the beginning of a long-term focus on K-12 institutions and community colleges, as well.

“I envision our students mentoring and bringing different K-12 and community college students to our campus,” said Breaux. “With state of the art facilities, it is always good to let students see other role models at higher levels doing great things. You know, you have to give students that goal and let them see that they can get to that point.”

Breaux continued: “I am looking forward to partnering with Prince George’s Community College, in particular, and reaching back to K-12 institutions in order to ensure that these students are prepared to come into our university and succeed.”

In addition to her work at Millersville University, Breaux was also dean of students at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia from 2000 to 2008 and assistant provost of Drexel University from 1998 to 2000.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Temple University, a master’s degree in psychological services in education from the University of Pennsylvania, and a doctorate in counseling psychology from Temple University. She is also a graduate of the Harvard Institute for Executive Management and the American Association for State Colleges and Universities Millennium Leadership Institute.

In his last days before his departure Burnim, Bowie’s ninth president also shared his vision for the university and wishes for the upcoming president.

“I have expressed to Dr. Breaux that she is becoming president of one of the finest public comprehensive universities in America,” said Burnim. “Bowie State University is poised for further growth and progress. There are many people and organizations that want to see that progress and are willing to work with her to achieve it.”

The White House should postpone its HBCU conference

Last month, after speaking with the White House about a few calls, we had received, I was asked to get a sense of where our member-schools stood on the upcoming National HBCU Week Conference. After a call with a number of our 47 member-school presidents and chancellors the overwhelming consensus was to advise that the White House consider postponing the annual National HBCU Week Conference organized by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

I believed then and am now affirmed that it is still the best choice when we objectively look at the current national events that could detract from the real needs of the HBCU community. It is no secret that, under my leadership at TMCF, we have taken a position of finding ways to have a positive meaningful, transparent working relationship with the current administration on all issues pertaining to HBCUs. I have been outspoken in my support of the significant meetings, policy positions and plans that have a direct impact on our member-intuitions. Like most of us, we often have a difference of opinion with even those closest to us, so though the

Administration may disagree with our call for postponing this event, our commitment to finding common ground to work together on behalf of HBCUs has not and will not change.

This conference is important to all of our HBCU students, campus leaders and the millions of people who live in the campus communities, all of which are searching for these schools to be equitably funded and supported by public and private partners. It is more than a time for leaders, alumni and other stakeholders to convene and network; when developed to the specific interests of our institutions, the conference is a valuable tool for exposure of HBCU strengths before powerful actors in our nation’s legislative and corporate circles.

Traditionally, the White House Initiative on HBCUs Executive Director, in consultation with the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs has planned the event. Regrettably, as of August 2017 neither has been appointed. TMCF was asked to submit names and provide general input on the conference, but my position has always been, there needed to be an Executive Director in place by July 9th. There is no doubt that there are people in the White House that are committed to the advancement and support of HBCUs during the Trump Administration. Two of them are actually HBCU graduates, so I applaud the fact that they are advocating for our community, behind closed doors.

The conference should not be cancelled. We need this annual event to bring all of the stakeholders together around a specific, strategic agenda of substantive action for the entire Black College Community. September 17-19, 2017 is just not the right time. We asked the Trump Administration to consider postponing the conference, because there is legitimate concern that some may want to use this event to protest, boycott or much worse, refuse to work with the Trump Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress. Let me be very clear, with the fragile condition of some of our HBCUs, now is not the time for us to retreat, now is not the time for us to move off the path of strategic and effective engagement to seek meaningful solutions for HBCUs. Our students and faculty are watching and want us to solidify continued support from the entire Trump Administration for HBCUs. They are seeking more than positive affirmations that many in the political space try to give. We need and deserve policies, which reflect the service our schools provide in spurring industrial diversity, political autonomy and economic progress.

No one wants HBCUs to become a footnote at a national event, which could draw attention from many types of groups seeking opportunities to advance a message totally independent of higher education or HBCU advocacy. Our students and our leaders deserve to be more than a catalyst for liberal or conservative groups to use the conference as an agenda amplifier; especially when HBCUs have hard work ahead in securing partnerships to promote and to bolster institutional strengths in STEM, national defense, public health, secondary education, entrepreneurship and business management. I was pleased to hear Secretary of State Tillerson talk about the value of HBCU students interning and working at the State Department. TMCF has great partnerships with the United States Department of Agriculture, the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency and many others.

I can understand why some White House officials want to continue the conference. I applaud their firm commitment to maintaining a laser focus on the HBCU agenda, even when the prospects for controversy are growing around it. That commitment is a sign of true leadership and advocacy in which we should all be proud, because it is rare. It is the kind of commitment for which TMCF has advocated over the past 30 years, and which we are proud to say has resulted in bipartisan support of our scholarship and talent pipeline programs which have benefited thousands of students from our 47 member-institutions and beyond.

The best course of action is to pause for just a moment, get the Executive Director and Advisory Board in place to plan out a short term and long term strategy for the Trump Administration and Black College Community to be convened for this critically important conference, we all want to be successful, substantive, and impactful. I have no doubt President Trump, his administration and the 47-member schools I represent as the President & CEO of TMCF, have a genuine desire to get this right, so that HBCUs can survive and thrive.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. is the President & CEO of Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. Prior to joining TMCF, he spent many years as a successful corporate executive and attorney. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnnyCTaylorJr.

Caribbean Disaster Relief & Recovery Efforts Underway in Baltimore

Tropical Storm Maria quickly turned into a Hurricane on Wednesday, packing a power punch with winds of 115 mph that wiped out electricity to all of Puerto Rico.

The force of the storm toppled trees while widespread flooding was reported throughout the island.

It comes on the heels of several menacing storms that have assaulted the Caribbean islands and turned paradise into a nightmare.

Baltimore area residents who have lived in Maryland – for most of or parts of their lives – and whose families and loved ones still live in the Caribbean, are not only concerned, but they have sprung into action to help.

A group of individuals have founded a new nonprofit called the Caribbean Disaster Relief & Recovery Alliance, Inc., whose model is “helping people recover their lives.”

“This effort is more important than ever and, based on the weather projections, we may have even more islands impacted,” said Loughton Sargeant, a St. Croix native and senior electrical engineer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture who serves as treasurer for the nonprofit.

“The most important message I can give to folks is that people are suffering and we need help,” Sargeant said.

“Some have no food, no clothes and it’s critical that we reach out,” he said.

The Caribbean Disaster Relief and Recovery Alliance was established this month to help address the needs of disaster stricken islands like St. Thomas, St. John, St. Marteen, Antigua, Tortola and Barbuda.

By Wednesday, the nonprofit had added St. Croix, Dominica, and Puerto Rico to the islands they’re seeking to assist.

The death toll from Maria had reached seven by late Wednesday in Dominica, Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, told reporters.

Browne said Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit reported widespread devastation and his own house was destroyed by the storm.

Forecasters said as much as 18 inches of rain would be dumped on Puerto Rico and, by Thursday, Maria was expected to hit the Dominican Republic.

Elaine Simon, a member of the nonprofit, said those islands will need assistance for years to come.

She said the group has enlisted the help of former senator and WOLB talk show host Larry Young and radio DJ Lolo, who also hails from the Virgin Islands.

“We are in direct contact with individuals from those islands in addition to what the governments are doing, they need our help,” Simon said.

The nonprofit has started collecting non-perishables, baby clothes and wipes, sheets, towels, feminine products, tooth paste and many other items as well as cash to assist those in need.

They have identified churches and other organizations to ensure that those in need receive the donations as soon as possible.

Later, the organization will work to help with larger requests, like doors, windows, hammers and nails to help rebuild the islands – particularly Barbuda where that island has been totally devastated, Simon said.

They’ll also include donations to Texas and Florida victims, she said.

“We do have brothers and sisters and families in Texas and in Florida and we need to give back to them and this group is very diverse and very committed,” Simon said.

Beginning at 3 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 28, the Caribbean Disaster Relief and Recovery Alliance plan to collect donations at 801 McCulloh Street in Baltimore. They’ve also established a donation drop-off location at Island Cuisine, 8128 Liberty Road in Windsor Mill.

“We’ll take whatever; 50 cents, $1. It will all help with shipping and purchasing items in addition to what we’re already collecting,” Simon said.

For more information or to donate, call 443-869-1835 or visit,

Baltimore work convention to match job seekers with employers

The City of Baltimore Department of Human Resources has spearheaded an initiative, which officials say will further Mayor Catherine Pugh’s vision of getting city residents back to work.

The first “WorkBaltimore: Empowerment to Employment Convention,” is scheduled for 8 a.m. on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at the Baltimore Convention Center where thousands of unemployed Baltimore City residents will have an opportunity to secure employment.

In an effort to attract participation from job seekers and potential employers, WorkBaltimore conducted workshops, seminars, webinars and other job readiness assistance, including: resume preparation and interview skills in order to provide employers with a viable pool of qualified applicants poised to meet current and future business demands.

Resources were also provided to aid jobseekers with career transition; recovery from involuntary employment separation; re-entering the workforce; completing the application process; professional conduct; customer service; effective communication; problem solving and critical thinking.

Further, a “New Beginnings Boutique,” opened on September 19 at 201 E. Baltimore Street in the Montebello Suite on the 1st floor to provide a host of job-readiness preparation for employment seekers. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day until September 26, job seekers can obtain an outfit appropriate for a job interview on the first day on the job. Vouchers are also available from the boutique for a visit to a barbershop or a hair salon.

“We really want to let folks know about [the boutique] because they can connect with transportation vouchers and other things they may need,” said Ava-Lisa Macon, chief of HR Shared Services in the city’s Department of Human Resources.

Macon serves as the marketing chair for WorkBaltimore, the brainchild of Mary H. Talley, the city’s Human Resources Director.

“We’re hoping to attract up to 5,000 attendees and pair them with over 1,000 jobs,” Macon said. “We’ve had over 200 workshops that we’ve held throughout the 30 days leading up to the convention. In addition to the workshops, we’re attacking the issue of unemployment from a whole circle point of view.”

Through sponsors and donations— and without any taxpayer funds— officials have been able to put together a full boutique of services for those seeking living wage-earning jobs in the city.

WorkBaltimore and the Department of Human Resources have partnered with stylists, barbers, resume services and more to prepare candidates for jobs.

“We’ve been busy getting resumes to employers beforehand so that there can be onsite interviews and perhaps, some may be able to walk out of the convention with a job,” Macon said.

It’s an innovative concept where a cross-functional city agency teams with area businesses and educators to offer citywide pre-convention resources that may lead to on-the-spot interviews and hiring.

Mary H. Talley, Director and Chief Human Captial Officer, Baltimore City, Department of Human Resources says they asked themselves what they could do as a city, to aid thousands of unemployed residents in securing employment opportunities.

“What can we do to assist organizations headquartered or operating in our city find applicants with the skills and qualifications they need within our city? Our answer— orchestrate an exceptional opportunity bringing together a cross-section of stakeholders in the same place, at the same time, to receive or provide employment opportunities and job readiness and resource assistance,” Talley said.

The event was designed to attract participation from the full spectrum of job seekers including the under-skilled, early career, mid-level, and highly skilled, according to a press release.

“We know that one day won’t change the world, but we’re hoping to continue with sessions 365-days a year by partnering with sister agencies,” Macon said. “We intend to offer job ready workshops and seminars for free to Baltimore City residents to come in and get the help they need so we can get them a job that pays living wages and to get them back to work.”

Individuals and organizations are encouraged to make tax-deductible contributions online at

For more information about WorkBaltimore, visit

Baltimore County resident inducted into Texas Coaches Association Hall of Fame

Russell W. Jolivet was recently inducted into the Prairie View Interscholastic League Coaches Association Hall of Fame in Houston Texas at the 38th Annual Banquet with more than 1500 people in attendance.

Jolivet, who retired from the Enoch Pratt Free Library as Chief of Human Resources, received the award for his outstanding scholastic and athletic performance while playing football at Kashmere Gardens Senior High School. When he and his brother, Arnold Jolivet played football at Kashmere Gardens, schools were segregated in Texas.

The African American athletes played with less but were very successful and held many “All city” and “All state” honors, and championship records with some records still unbroken today.

The history of the Prairie View Interscholastic League Coaches Association goes back to 1921 with the purpose of increasing the cultural awareness of the heritage of the association, identifying former coaches for induction into Texas High School Coaches Association, creating a traveling exhibit for schools, which allows students to acquire knowledge of the association.

This induction signifies membership into an elite group of former coaches and athletes and connects Jolivet to a storied history in which he played a signi-ficant role in its success. Prairie View Interscholastic League member schools produced some of the greatest talents anywhere from 1920 to 1970.

“I feel honored to be recognized by the most prestigious interscholastic organization in the State of Texas that honors athletes. This is the culmination of the most important of all the awards that I received recognizing me as ‘All American High School Texas’ football player. I can now remember the past with great pride,” Jolivet said.

Even though both brothers were heavily, recruited by colleges in the Southwest and Southeastern athletic conferences, they accepted football scholarships from Morgan State College now Morgan State University.

They were outstanding football players at Morgan graduating in 1966. Both were inducted into the Morgan State Athlete Hall of Fame— Russell in 1988 and Arnold in 1978.

Russell and his wife, Ernestine Jones Jolivet received honorary degrees— the Morgan State University Student Civil Rights Pioneer Doctorate of Laws for their participation in civil rights demonstrations against segregation.

BGE ‘Bright Ideas’ teachers’ grants available for in-classroom innovation projects

— Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) is now accepting applications for the 2017 inaugural Bright Ideas Teachers’ Grants program. All kindergarten through 12th-grade in-classroom teachers within the BGE service area, which focus on innovation, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) the environment or energy efficiency are eligible to apply at Applications must be received by October 31, 2017.

Eligible teachers can receive a grant of up to $500 for in-classroom use to fund qualifying projects. Twenty grant winners throughout BGE’s service area will be announced in November.

“At BGE, we recognize that the future of our company and even as a society greatly depends on the educated youth of tomorrow,” said Valencia McClure, vice president of governmental and external affairs and corporate relations for BGE. “This new grant program helps teachers introduce vital lesson plans and innovative tools into the classroom to help our future generation realize their full potential.”

BGE provides $1 million annually for education programs across its central Maryland service area through its charitable contributions programs. The company has also provided nearly $300,000 to winners of BGE’s energy safety programs for children.

Since it was founded in 1816, BGE has partnered with Maryland communities to enhance our neighborhoods. BGE supports programs that deliver measurable and sustainable impact in the areas of energy efficiency, the environment, education, economic and community development, and emergency response and safety.