Video Of New Jersey Of High School Wrestler’s Dreadlocks Being Cut Goes Viral

In New Jersey, Andrew Johnson, an African American wrestler with dreadlocks was told he had to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit a wrestling match. Under pressure, the teenage wrestler stood resigned while a white female coach hurriedly cut his dreadlocks by ringside. The incident was captured on video by a journalist. Johnson went on to win his match.

Johnson’s teammates from Buena Regional High School can be seen on the video shouting their support and addressing him supportively before the match started.

“A referee wouldn’t allow Andrew Johnson of Buena @brhschiefs to wrestle with a cover over his dreadlocks. It was either an impromptu haircut, or a forfeit. Johnson chose the haircut, then won by sudden victory in OT to help spark Buena to a win,” tweeted journalist Mike Frankel on December 20, 2018. Frankel is the Sports Director for SNJ Today News in South Jersey.

“Disgusting and heartbreaking. A referee known for his racism, Alan Maloney (google him), made high school wrestler Andrew Johnson cut off his dreads or lose the match. They were covered and gave him no advantage. So, he cut them off. He won the match. Never should’ve been allowed,” tweeted Shaun King regarding the incident.

Reporting by Sports Illustrated identified the referee in the video as Alan Maloney. Maloney reportedly has a dubious history. It was reported in 2016 that Maloney was accused of calling another referee the N-word during a March 2016 social gathering. The incident was reported in The Courier-Post Journal of South Jersey.

Johnson’s coaches argued with Maloney, the wrestling official before Johnson’s hair was cut. But Maloney forced Johnson and the team to choose between cutting off the dreadlocks or forfeiting the match. As Johnson’s coaches argued, Maloney started the injury clock and stopped listening to their appeals.

The level of heat seen on social media regarding the incident was palatable.

“Enough of these bastards. Ban him for life. Fire him from his job. Sue any goddamned racist idiots who defend him, into bankruptcy. Enough of this authorized return to 1938,” wrote noted sports commentator Keith Olbermann.

Comedian Drew Carey wrote, “I’m a fan of Greco-Roman wrestling, and this is total bulls. Girls compete w boys. Anthony Robles won the NCAA’s with one leg. And this kid has to cut his dreads to compete? F* bull*. Where was the coach? Or administrators? On either team?”

“No-loc bans are designed to oppress and shame black people not just for expressing blackness, but for their blackness. They have no place in our society and certainly not in our schools. Until we can abolish these discriminatory practices and norms, we are all complicit,” a message from the New Jersey ACLU read.

On December 21, 2018, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association released a statement recommending “the referee” not officiate any matches until a review of the incident was undertaken. They did not name Maloney by name.

“Regulations regarding hair length and legal hair covers for wrestlers are provided by the National Federation of State High School Associations. At this point, the NJSIAA is working to determine the exact nature of the incident and whether an infraction occurred,” their statement read.

Many in the legal community indicated a lawsuit is likely.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at and on twitter at @LVBurke

They Bent Steel!

The East Baltimore Historical Library hosted Baltimore’s first annual Steel Workers’ Legacy Luncheon, recently at the new Marriott Residence Inn-Hopkins Campus. A cross section of people from the community were invited to the luncheon to initiate a concerted effort to chronicle the history of these citizens who, unfortunately, have never received proper recognition for their role in building and sustaining America.

Former Delegate Clarence “Tiger” Davis served as the emcee; City Solicitor Andre Davis shared that his father worked at Bethlehem Steel during his keynote address; and Baltimore attorney Fredrick Durst from the Law offices of Peter Angelos shared good reasons for capturing stories about Steel Workers.

Delegate Cheryl Glenn, Baltimore City Legislative Delegation Chair presented “Family Jewels” awards to retired steel workers: George Terry; Eddie Bartee, Sr.; and Lee Douglas, 95 years young.

A former marine and Old Town Mall Community Association president, Douglas was one of the union leaders who testified before the U.S. Congress when the voices of black steel workers were heard nationally in the mid-sixties.

Legacy Luncheons’ co-chairs, Councilman Robert Stokes and Barbara Hopkins, JHU, Community Relations, also received awards.

Whether these men and women worked at Bethlehem Steel (Sparrows Point); ARMOCO Steel; Baltimore Smelting & Refinery (Koppers); or Eastern Stainless Steel; or whether they lived in East or West Baltimore, Highland Town, Dundalk, Sparrows Point or Turner Station— the attendees celebrated the health sacrifices these laborers made. They contributed to the USA Steel Industry becoming an industrial giant around the world, all while navigating Jim Crow policies and practices in order to provide for their families.

Many of these men left southern farms, during “The Great Migration,” crossed the Mason Dixon line and began to learn new skills; while building self-sustaining enclaves within the neighborhoods there were able to settle in. They learned new skills, which would fuel not only a robust economy for our city, but also the region paving the way for hundreds of black students to enter colleges and they purchased thousands of homes throughout East Baltimore— and beyond.

Let us all remember, that during an extremely challenging period in our country’s moral and political history – “They bent steel!”

Singer John Legend’s Foundation Makes Holidays Bear-able For Children Of Incarcerated Parents

— Girl Scouts of Central Maryland’s “Beyond Bars” troop members were the happy recipients of new Build-A-Bears from singer John Legend’s FREEAMERICA foundation. The bears were distributed to the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars troop members at the second of their bi-monthly meetings on December 15, 2018 at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCIW).

Girl Scouts of Central Maryland has served 400 girls through their Beyond Bars program since the program was piloted 25 years ago. The program, initiated by a judge who contemplated the plight of the children left behind once their mothers were sentenced, provides Girl Scout programming to daughters and mothers at MCIW.

The program provides an opportunity for girls to have intimate visits with their moms while they work on Girl Scout projects together.

“It gives mom the opportunity to be a mother, but it gives the daughter the opportunity to have a mother,” remarked MCIW Warden Margaret Chippendale.

Legend said he founded FREEAMERICA “to give voice to those impacted by the criminal justice system.” He has visited jails and prisons across the country and learned about the lives and journeys of many inmates. In an effort to bring some holiday joy he partnered with Build-A-Bear to provide gifts for the children.

In the card that comes with the bears Legend said, “I hope you feel supported and loved this holiday season.”

For more information about Girl Scouts of Central Maryland’s Beyond Bars program and about the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland programming, visit:

Rambling Rose: Happy New Year To You All!

Hello my dear friends and fans and a Happy New Year to you! It’s been a hell-la-va year, I tell you. It is kind of bittersweet. The entertainment has been great but the violence in our city has been awful! However, I am going to talk about the positive. I want to talk about the music, fun and lots and lots of entertainment that’s coming up and I want you to join me.

Looking for something to do to celebrate the New Year? How about the “Black & Bling NYE Celebration hosted by Belmont Entertainment on Monday, December 31, 2018 at the Quality Inn, 1800 Belmont Avenue in Windsor Mill, Maryland from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. For more information, call: 410-350-9371.

If that’s not your taste, then you can celebrate the New Year with live music and a spectacular fireworks show at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on Monday, December 31 from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Ms. Tee and CH Productions will host a Pre-New Year’s Eve Party on Saturday, December 29, 2018 at 6 p.m. at the Corinthian Restaurant & Lounge, 7107 Windsor Mill Road in Baltimore, featuring Slagz Band.

A Dinner Concert brought to you by Janora “Lady J” Winkler and Next Phaze Café & Lounge, 112 E. Lexington Street in Baltimore on Saturday, December 29 from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. featuring David Smooth’s #1 Temptations Revue. Full food menu and cash bar is available. For more information, call 410-449-3232.

Carl and Barbara Grubbs will be on MPT to co-host Artworks with Rhea on Friday, December 28 at 7:30 p.m. His first segment follows his conversation about contemporary arts with Rhea and his 2ndsegment is at the end with music. Check it out.

Be Mo Jazz Year End Jam with Vernard Gray will host the “Year End Jazz Jam,” on Saturday, December 29, 2018 at 6 p.m. at the Eubie Blake Center. It’s BYOB & BYOF with free set-ups. This event will benefit both of the center’s jazz performance series and Baltimore’s Kromah Reciprocity Project. Guests are asked to bring art supplies to be donated for Cuban children, which will be delivered in January. For more information, call Vernard at 202-262-7571 and tell him that “Rambling Rose” told you.

The last thing I want tell you about is DJ Mike Jones’ New Year’s Day Party on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Diamondz Hall located at 9980 Liberty Road in Randallstown, Maryland. It’s cabaret style; BYOB and BYOF with free Set-ups. For more information, call Mike at 443-525-5016.

Well, my dear friends; my fans; and my boss, Joy Bramble, publisher and editor of this newspaper; it has been a great year being with you all. I appreciate your love and support of my column, “Rambling Rose” for the last 32 years. I wish you all much love and happiness for the New Year and looking forward to continuing my column in 2019. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Remember, if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me at UNTIL THE NEXT TIME, I’M ALWAYS MUSICALLY YOURS.

Art Sherrod Jr. and the ASJ All-Stars, a 14 piece band and violinist Chelsey Green and singer & songwriter Lolita Chamber-Lamkin will be bring in the New Year at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races,, 750 Hollywood Drive, Charles Town, West Virginia.

Art Sherrod Jr. and the ASJ All-Stars, a 14 piece band and violinist Chelsey Green and singer & songwriter Lolita Chamber-Lamkin will be bring in the New Year at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races,, 750 Hollywood Drive, Charles Town, West Virginia.

International recording artist and vocalist Gabrielle Goodman played to a sold out show at An Die Musik on December 26, 2018 at An Die Musik. She performed jazz and R&B numbers, including a tribute to Nancy Wilson and Aretha Franklin.

International recording artist and vocalist Gabrielle Goodman played to a sold out show at An Die Musik on December 26, 2018 at An Die Musik. She performed jazz and R&B numbers, including a tribute to Nancy Wilson and Aretha Franklin.

Baltimore’s own and world renowned drummer Dennis Chambers will be back in Baltimore performing at An Die Musik located at 409 N. Charles Street on Friday, December 28, 2018 at 7 p.m. with his band.

Baltimore’s own and world renowned drummer Dennis Chambers will be back in Baltimore performing at An Die Musik located at 409 N. Charles Street on Friday, December 28, 2018 at 7 p.m. with his band.

Wilson’s Blue Philly Magic and Special Blendz, both R&B and Soul Groups will perform at the Forest Park Senior Center, 4801 Liberty Heights Avenue for a “Holiday Party Cabaret on Saturday, December 29, 2018 starting at 9 p.m.

Wilson’s Blue Philly Magic and Special Blendz, both R&B and Soul Groups will perform at the Forest Park Senior Center, 4801 Liberty Heights Avenue for a “Holiday Party Cabaret on Saturday, December 29, 2018 starting at 9 p.m.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks And Events To Fill Day In Downtown Annapolis

— Downtown Annapolis is the place to ring in the New Year. The City of Annapolis has a wide range of activities and entertainment for the public to participate in and celebrate with friends and family.

There will be two fireworks events. The early fireworks are family friendly at the Wheems-Whalen ball fields behind Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Free parking for this event is available at Park Place starting at 2 p.m. with a free shuttle to and from the event. The parking lot at the fields are reserved for handicap parking only.

Starting at 3 p.m. the fields fill up with a wide range of kid friendly activities with moon bounces, obstacle courses, face painting, food truck, live music and more. The nearby Chesapeake Children’s Museum will also be open. At 5:30 p.m. the fireworks display will entertain the crowds.

The City Dock events under the big heated tent start at 8 p.m. There will be free live entertainment from Scott Hymes’ Radio City Band with dancing for all ages and a special close up fireworks display at midnight to ring in the New Year. Both of these activities are alcohol free and open to all ages. The public may watch the fireworks from anywhere around the City Dock or from the water on Watermarks New Year’s Eve Cruise.

For Sports Fans the day starts early with the Military Bowl Parade, which starts at 9 a.m. Lead by the Clydesdale horses, the parade goes up Main Street, around Church Circle, the first block of West Street to Calvert Street, Rowe Blvd and the stadium. The Military Bowl Game kicks off at noon at the stadium. After the football game, the public is encouraged to stay parked at the stadium and take the free shuttle to downtown Annapolis. Basketball fans will also be able to catch a game at Alumni Hall at 6 p.m. of Navy vs. St. Joseph’s- Women’s Basketball

Other options during the afternoon include Holiday Break Art Camp at ArtFarmon West Street; Jolly Express Cruises departing from City Dock; and the 1820’s Dutch American Christmas with the Lookerman Family exhibit at Hammond Harwood House on Maryland Avenue.

For more information about downtown Annapolis, visit:

New Year’s Day Silent Retreat

Start your year off right! Give yourself the treat of developing mental peace and relaxation to fortify yourself for the New Year. Refresh your body and your mind with guided meditations and a day of silence— participants will remain silent, while the retreat teacher will guide the meditations and give practical instructions on how to nourish our mind and body. Then enjoy a healthy vegetarian lunch in the World Peace Café, followed by two more nurturing meditations.

The cost is $40 for students, seniors 60 and over and the unemployed. Free forstudent-level and benefactor-level members. For more Information, call 410-243-3837 or visit

National Trust Raises Over $10 Million To Preserve Historic Black Sites

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that one-year after the launch of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund the organization has hit a funding milestone, raising more than $10M dollars for this $25M initiative.

The Action Fund aims to uplift stories of African American achievement, activism, and community, crafting a narrative that expands a view of history, and that helps to reconstruct our national identity while inspiring a new generation of activists to advocate for diverse historic places, according to the announcement.

“We are proud of how over this past year we’ve helped to broaden the conversation about the places that matter,” Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said in a news release. “Since the launch of the Action Fund, we have seen overwhelming support across the country in saving spaces that tell the full American story.”

Launched in partnership with national foundations, and with support from a National Advisory Council, including co-chairs Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, and actress and director Phylicia Rashad, the Action Fund has changed the landscape of African American preservation.

In year one, the Action Fund empowered youth through a hands-on preservation experience, modeled innovative approaches to interpreting and preserving African American cultural heritage at historic sites, continued on-the-ground work protecting significant historic places, and launched a national grant program.

“The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund has seen remarkable grassroots engagement, in the more than 800 grant applications asking for help protecting African American historic places, and in the tremendous community support at newly-launched National Treasures like the John and Alice Coltrane Home,” said Brent Leggs, director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. “As we embark on year two of the Action Fund, we will continue working to foster a national landscape where every person can see themselves, their history, and their potential in our collective story.”

In this inaugural year, the Action Fund was able to award 16 grants, totaling more than $1M, to preservation organizations across the country, with funding going to support the preservation of sites and stories of black history.

The grants, presented at Essence Festival this July, covered work in communities from Birmingham to the South Side of Chicago, including sites of struggle and strength, according to the announcement.

“The Action Fund grant enabled us to move forward with the goal of transforming the August Wilson House into a community space, a hub of art, memory, and interpretation that will support young artists in Pittsburgh and across the country, and celebrate August Wilson’s legacy,” said Paul A. Ellis, Jr., executive director of the August Wilson House, an inaugural grant recipient.

Ellis, an attorney, is also Wilson’s nephew and the founder of the Daisy Wilson Artist Community, named after Wilson’s mother, Daisy.

“This house and this community are more than just a place where August lived— they are the inspiration for his plays, and the physical representation of what he was able to accomplish,” he said.

In addition to grant funding, the National Trust through its Action Fund has supported four new National Treasure designations, including the childhood home of singer Nina Simone, and Memphis-based Clayborn Temple, famed for its role in the Sanitation Workers’ Strike of 1968.

In the coming year, the National Trust has pledged to continue work on key preservation efforts, including conducting research exploring the impact that preservation has on contemporary urban issues that disproportionately affect communities of color— equity, displacement and affordability.

Additionally, support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will continue, from celebrating their history to advocating for the reauthorization of the HBCU Historic Preservation Program, which ensures that their histories and legacies are preserved.

“The Action Fund draws support from a renowned group of leaders in academic, business, government, arts and philanthropy, as well as the continued support of first-year lead funders Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, and others,” Leggs said.

Maya Jai Pinson Is A Teen Voice For The Ages

Maya Jai Pinson has some seriously sound advice for young people: “Be committed in what you’re doing, follow your dreams and never give up. Be consistent in everything, be passionate, be open-minded, open-armed and just have fun.”

When the 14-year-old was asked if she is having fun, the question was more rhetorical, particularly after an inspiring telephone conversation with Maya, who at a young age has accomplished about as much as anyone twice her age and older.

“Yes, I do have fun,” she said.

“My mom and dad motivate me and I just love motivating people and inspiring people,” said Maya, who among so many other interests has written a children’s book called “Back Pack Lilly,” an entertaining read for ages three to nine. “My book is teaching kids how to prioritize their studying and school work.”

It was Maya’s mother, an author herself, who inspired the teen to write the book.

With a daily schedule that seemingly never ends, Maya knows quite a bit about prioritizing. Her list of activities include:

•Acting with more than 14 titles including starring in a new comedy series called, “Dad’s Do it Too.

•Maryland talk show radio co-host of the teen program, “Voices of Our Teens”

•Children’s book author “Back Pack Lilly” for children 3-9 years old

•Motivational speaker whose “Dream Big” speech is for kids and teens

•GPA Honor Student (3.9 GPA)

•Read over 3 million words this past school year

•1st chair cellist

•Basketball, volley ball captains and more.

•Volunteers by reading to day care centers, YMCA’s, Boys & Girls Centers and she reads at the National Children Medical Center Hospitals.

•Prepares meals and sandwiches at churches, food kitchens and other locations for those in need.

“School work comes first and I make sure that my studying work and my grades are good before I do any extra curricular activities,” Maya said. “I also have a schedule where everything is planned on a calendar so I have time to study and then relax and have fun.”

While her book is a tool to help children prioritize studying, schoolwork and play, Maya has won awards as a motivational speaker where she says she enjoys giving talks that inspire young ones. Her radio show is also a platform to inspire young people.

“It gives kids a platform to get their voice heard on certain topics,” she said. “Young people aren’t always comfortable speaking with adults and the show gives them a chance to say what’s on their minds.”

As co-host of a Maryland radio show called “Voices of Our Teens,” Maya says she finds time to speak to children and adults alike about the importance of balancing work and play in their lives with her “Stop, Drop, Work then Play” method.

The radio show, which aired every third Sunday of each month from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on WOL 1450 AM and 95.9 FM News Talk Radio, has tackled such topics as teens coping with their parents’ divorce; teenage and young adult pregnancy; teen dating; and youth bullying. The show is expected to end in January.

In addition to all of things she enjoys, Maya lists her niece, Janiya; her older sister and brother, Brittany and DJ; as those she loves spending time with.

“Mom and dad are just that, mom and dad,” she said laughing. “They are more behind the scenes and they prefer it that way.”

If Maya had to choose a first love in all that she does, she says it would be acting.

“I love portraying another role and I love being on camera,” she said. “In the future I see myself as a big star, a featured actress but still writing books on the side and still motivating people and helping others.”

It’s easy to see why her mother describes her as “resilient, hardworking responsible, respectful and caring, and silly,” she said.

Her dad also said Maya is loving, caring, respectful and he added “athletic and fun.”

For more about Maya or to purchase “Back Pack Lilly,” visit

The Greatest ‘Present’ Of All

It’s the holiday season again and for most of us this means exchanging presents galore from family, friends and colleagues from work. Many of us associate the word “present” as a gift of some kind but fail to make the connection of the root word, which is “present.” The definition of present can have multiple meanings but the one I am referring to is, the present moment of time.

The greatest gift has already been given to us and should we choose to receive it— is each present moment of our life. We don’t have to spend hours in the mall to find it or use Amazon Prime to ship it either; it’s already given to us each day that we wake up.

Living from day-to-day, it can be difficult to stop and think to yourself, am I taking full advantage of this current experience occurring in my life at this very moment? Am I living fully and being mindful in the present? Am I truly taking advantage of the greatest present of all?

Our brain tends to naturally relive the past while also daydreaming about the future. It’s a relatively easy state to gravitate towards because of deeply

ingrained human instincts. We are creatures of habit and once we continue to live every day like this we can easily forget what it feels like to be fully and consciously aware of what’s happening currently in the present moment. Many of us may not even realize it but the tendency to consistently live in the past and future can leave us worn out and feeling out of touch with ourselves.

Essentially, by not living in the present we become victims of time. It’s imperative to remain in touch with ourselves and live in the present moment to ensure we are taking advantage of everything life has to offer.

If you have ever consciously paid attention to your thoughts then you will not be surprised to learn that the average human has about 60,000 thoughts per day. While we are at work, we think about our next vacation; and while we are on vacation, we worry about the work and emails pilling up on our desks.

We need to start living more in the moment and start practicing mindfulness— a state of active, open and intentional attention to the present. When we become more mindful, we start to realize that we are not our thoughts but an observer of your thoughts. Mindfulness involves being with our thoughts as they are without either pushing them away or holding on to them. Instead of letting your life go by without living it you will be awakened to fully experience it.

Reportedly, practicing mindfulness or living in the present helps us to become more content. It is also said to help to reduce stress; boost immune functioning; reduce chronic pain; lower blood pressure; and it also helps patients cope with serious illness. It’s even been said that practicing mindfulness may reduce the risk of heart disease.

As you continue to receive gifts this holiday season don’t forget that the greatest present off all has already been given to you. Align yourself to your current present of time to take full advantage of your life and everything in it.

Positively Caviar, Inc. is a nonprofit organization focused on a message of positivity and optimism. To learn more about our organization, the nucleus team or how you join our positive movement, visit:

Facebook Joins Community Activists, Civic Leaders In Baltimore To Lower Violent Crime

Facebook, one of the biggest technology companies on the planet, has joined community activists and Baltimore’s civic leaders in an effort to decrease violence in Charm City.

In 2017, even though violent crime– murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault— decreased nationwide, violent crime increased in Baltimore, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting. City officials reported 11,010 violent crimes in 2016 and 12,439 violent crimes in 2017. In Washington, D.C., once known as the “murder capital of the country,” violent crimes decreased from 7,711 in 2016 to 6,584 in 2017.

•Baltimore, which is more than 60 percent black, is the first city in the U.S. to work with Facebook to address violent crime.

•More than 70 percent of black adults use Facebook and 43 percent use Instagram, according to the Pew Research Center.

•Facebook officials said that partnership with Baltimore is a long-term project.

Executives from the global social network recently hosted a “design jam,” a guided brainstorming session, to begin the development of new strategies aimed at addressing some of the underlying issues that contribute to violence in Baltimore. Although Facebook has taken on similar initiatives abroad, Baltimore was the first city in the United States to enter this unique partnership with the tech giant.

Gail Kent, Facebook’s global public policy lead on security, said that there are a lot of technology-based solutions that can help bring communities together and improve public safety.

“As an organization with 2.2 billion users, we have a responsibility for safer communities,” Kent said. “There is no technology solution to violence…there will not be an ‘app’ that we develop to solve Baltimore’s problems, but we can bring a different way of thinking to the table to bring communities together and help reduce violence.”

Speaking briefly during the design jam, Baltimore’s Mayor Catherine Pugh said that community engagement and mediation are critical to reducing violence in the city. She also acknowledged the role that technology can play in improving the lives of Baltimore’s residents.

Pugh said that the city hired a data scientist, “to measure what we were doing every single day” and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainable Solutions has used that information to improve access to city resources and to boost agency productivity.

Pugh applauded community activists and other civic leaders for working with Facebook on complex problems facing Baltimore.

“It is these kinds of conversations and collaborations that make a difference in the future of our city,” said Pugh.

Facebook has a vested interest in solving complex socioeconomic issues that plague majority-Black cities like Baltimore, due to the high use of the social media platform among African Americans.

According to the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of black adults use Facebook and 43 percent use Instagram, which is owned by the tech giant; blacks outpace whites, when it comes to the use of both social platforms. Nielsen reported that 55 percent of black millennials spend “at least one hour a day on social networking sites, which is 6 percent higher than all millennials, while 29 percent say they spend at least three hours a day, nine percent higher than all millennials.”

Shantay Guy, the executive director of the Baltimore Community Mediation Center, said that she was grateful for Mayor Pugh’s level of thoughtfulness with engaging Facebook to use its extensive resources for the benefit of Baltimore’s residents.

“That was really powerful for me,” Guy said.

Guy, who worked as a technology project manager at T. Rowe Price, said that she was “really stoked” to be a part of the design jam, because she understands how impactful technology can be for addressing everyday issues and long-standing social problems.

“Community engagement, technology engagement and civic sector engagement will be converging in a way that allows the community to be a part of the process instead of being left out, which happens far too often in black and [Hispanic] communities,” Guy said.

Ray Kelly, the chief executive of the No Boundaries Coalition, a resident-led, advocacy group, said that social media has changed the way that community activists reach their constituents. Now effective communication strategies must not only include traditional marketing techniques like direct marketing and public panels, but also digital and social media marketing.

“No one impacted by police misconduct is going to the [Baltimore Police Department’s] website to see what policies are under review,” Kelly said. “Community groups have to let them know and we have to get that information out there, as effectively as possible.”

Kent called the project “a long-term engagement not just in Baltimore but in other cities in the U.S. and across the world.”

Kelly said that the most important thing that the black community should know about Baltimore’s partnership with Facebook is that it’s important to get involved and stay engaged with city officials and corporations in order to have a positive change in their own neighborhoods.

“The fight is still going on,” Kelly said. “We’re in the midst of change.”

Supporting that change by reducing violence in black and poor communities is not only Facebook’s responsibility; every company in the world and every citizen in the world has a role to play in elevating the most vulnerable members of our society, said Guy.

Guy continued: “We all have a shared and individual responsibility for leveling the playing field and creating a world that is equitable.”

Freddie Allen is an independent journalist and photographer and is the former Editor-in-Chief of the NNPA Newswire and Follow Freddie on Twitter @freddieallenjr.