June 27th Is National HIV Testing Day

MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society, wants to spread the word about National HIV Testing Day on June 27. National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) was first observed on June 27, 1995 to encourage people to get tested for HIV, know their status, and get linked to care and treatment. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It harms the immune system by destroying the white blood cells that fight infection which puts a person at risk for serious infections and certain cancers. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and is the final stage of infection with HIV.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.1 million people in the United States have HIV, and one in seven of them do not know that they have it. The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. People at higher risk should get tested more often.

HIV can be spread through body fluids like blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. HIV is passed from one person to another in a number of ways – having sex without a condom with a person who has HIV; sharing needles with someone who has HIV; breastfeeding, pregnancy, or childbirth if the mother has HIV; and getting a transfusion of blood that’s infected with HIV (very rare in the United States).

MedChi urges communities and health care practitioners to use National HIV Testing Day to raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing. MedChi CEO, Gene Ransom, states “Under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, insurance plans must cover HIV testing. HIV counseling is also covered for women who are sexually active. People can talk to their insurance company to learn more.”

About MedChi

MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society, is a non-profit membership association ofMaryland physicians. Formed in 1799, it is still the largest physician organization in Maryland today. The mission of MedChi is to serve as Maryland’s foremost advocate and resource for physicians, their patients and the public health of Maryland. For more information, please visit www.medchi.org.

Access To Capital Event Provides Valuable Resources For Small Businesses

Times Community Services, Inc., The Baltimore Times Foundation hosted the third “Access to Capital 2019 Small Business Forum,” where an array of lenders and nonprofits serving businesses in all stages of maturity, assembled for the annual function at The Impact Hub Baltimore on Saturday, June 15, 2019.

Lender panelists (Left to right) Paul Taylor, Office of Small Minority & Womens’s Business Development; Don Hoyt, Vice President, Business Relationship Manager, Wells Fargo; Stanley Arnold, Senior Vice President, Senior Lending Officer Harbor Bank; Stanley Tucker, CEO and Founder Meridian Management Comany; and Everet Sands, CEO and Founder of Lendistry at the “Access to Capital 2019 Small Business Forum,” at The Impact Hub Baltimore on Saturday, June 15, 2019.

Lucas Ballard

Lender panelists (Left to right) Paul Taylor, Office of Small Minority & Womens’s Business Development; Don Hoyt, Vice President, Business Relationship Manager, Wells Fargo; Stanley Arnold, Senior Vice President, Senior Lending Officer Harbor Bank; Stanley Tucker, CEO and Founder Meridian Management Comany; and Everet Sands, CEO and Founder of Lendistry at the “Access to Capital 2019 Small Business Forum,” at The Impact Hub Baltimore on Saturday, June 15, 2019.

The event featured bankers, credit specialists, alternative financial lenders, small businesses and nonprofit resource providers who were able to dispense valuable information to attendees regarding such critical subjects as lowering costs and preparing loan application packages.

Four micro-grants were offered to help entrepreneurs to expand their businesses. The participants had to complete an application and tell about their business with their best elevator speech.

“This year’s Access To Capital event was fantastic— it’s really great to provide a much needed offering to our community,” said the event’s director Cassandra Vincent. “I believe this year’s focus on credit was the beginning of a much needed and larger conversation and I am pleased that The Baltimore Times/Times Foundation and Lendistry creates a space for the community members, community stakeholders, and community partners to engage and discuss the challenges and realities that many hard working small business owners and entrepreneurs in Baltimore face.”

Educating communities of color remains “extremely important as we work to build wealth and reduce the areas and people within persistent poverty,” said Everett Sands, CEO of Lendistry, which offers small business loans and lines of credit to help grow businesses and to pay off debt.

Sands said hearing the comments, questions and feedback provided throughout the program was an important part of the Access to Capital program.

What draws Sands to Access to Capital is the “ability to teach others about credit and access to capital,” he said.

Donald J. Hoyt of Wells Fargo said he was asked to attend the event as part of a financial service provider panel.

“It’s very important that entrepreneurs know how to capitalize their ideas,” Hoyt said.

Erika Jernigan, the CEO of the children’s transportation service, Lexi’s Lil Bug, LLC, said the event proved a valuable resource that will help her to learn how to build a stronger portfolio so that she could leverage funding opportunities with an eye toward expanding her business.

Entrepreneur panelists (Left to right) Steven Yarn, ABC Real Estate Group. LLC; Will Holmes, Will Holmes Consulting; Sharif Small, SJS Financial Firm LLC;  Tonee Lawson, BE ORG; Jason Bass, The Night Brunch; and Nicole Mooney, Black Girls Cook

Lucas Ballard

Entrepreneur panelists (Left to right) Steven Yarn, ABC Real Estate Group. LLC; Will Holmes, Will Holmes Consulting; Sharif Small, SJS Financial Firm LLC; Tonee Lawson, BE ORG; Jason Bass, The Night Brunch; and Nicole Mooney, Black Girls Cook

“The wealth of knowledge provided is essential for anyone to know how the credit game is played and gain freedom at the same time for generations to come,” Jernigan said.

In Baltimore, there is a dynamic business community made up of talented entrepreneurs who are forging ahead to create a legacy and build businesses against all odds, according to Vincent.

“Access to Capital offered education and information that supports business owners with ways to build their capacity,” Vincent said. “In the future, we look forward to addressing some creative ways to fund businesses and bring to the conversation decision makers and funders looking to invest in Baltimore-based businesses, especially to invest in those located in divested communities.”

Vincent added that there is untapped talent and budding entrepreneurs in the city who really need added support and education.

“And,” she said. “More importantly, they need funding to propel not only their business into better positions but also to strengthen their families and communities by building the capacity of their respective businesses and enterprises.”

Public Reminded About Natural Gas And Electric Safety During National Safety Month

June is National Safety Month, the perfect time to remind customers about the importance of natural gas and electric safety. While BGE’s top priority is always the safety of its employees and customers, it’s important that customers understand their role in energy safety as well.

Natural gas is colorless, tasteless, and odorless in its natural state. An additive, known as mercaptan, is added to natural gas to give it a rotten egg odor and make it easier to detect. If you smell gas, inside or outside, leave the area immediately and call BGE at 1-877-778-7798 or 1-800-685-0123. BGE answers emergency gas service calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. BGE also reminds customers there is no charge to investigate or repair a reported gas leak involving BGE equipment.

If BGE identifies a leak on customer-owned equipment (e.g., internal piping and gas-fed appliances located after the gas meter), BGE may need to interrupt gas service to make the area safe. The customer would be required to hire a licensed plumber to make repairs to their gas equipment in order for gas service to be restored.

For electric safety, BGE reminds customers who see downed electrical wires to stay away, warn others, and call BGE immediately at 1-877-778-2222 or

1-800-685-0123. Always assume overhead wires are energized at lethal voltages. Never touch any wires and always stay at least 10 feet away from overhead wires when engaging in activities nearby.

Customers should also be aware that if an overhead wire falls across a vehicle being driven, all persons should stay inside the vehicle and the vehicle should be driven away from the downed wire.

If the engine stalls, do not leave the vehicle. Call 911 immediately and warn others to stay away from the vehicle and the wire.

Customers and contractors should always survey the area before starting any remodeling or home improvement work. Before digging for any project, call Miss Utility at 811 at least two full business days in advance of work to arrange for any utility lines to be marked. BGE reminds customers to check for the presence of overhead wires and to avoid touching anything that may be in contact with a wire (e.g., tree limbs or other debris), keep ladders and other tools at least 10 feet away from power lines, and keep electric tools and appliances away from wet surfaces (e.g., pools and patios).

BGE employees and contractors regularly work on or around roads and highways. These work zones can be extremely dangerous if motorists are inattentive or do not practice safe driving procedures. For the safety of the public, BGE employees and contractors, please respect coned-off areas. In addition:

  • •Watch for signage, barriers, and vehicle lights
  • •Stay alert and minimize distractions
  • •Obey posted speed limits
  • •If a flagger is present, obey their
  • directions
  • •Pay attention to posted signs
  • •Do not tailgate.

The most common work zone accident is rear-end crashes. Be patient and remain calm in and around work zones. As a reminder, Maryland’s “Move Over” law now applies to utility vehicles as well as law enforcement.

As part of BGE’s safety commitment, the company has a public safety advertising campaign to educate those who work around overhead and underground power lines, hosts numerous safety education events, and provides information to customers and contractors each year in bill inserts and informational mailings.

For more safety information, visit bge.com/safety. Customers with any questions may contact BGE’s Customer Care Center at 1-800-685-0123.

Baltimore’s Bishme Cromartie Wows Fashion World On Project Runway

The opportunity to be on Project Runway came at a point in his life when Bishme Cromartie says he felt at his lowest.

The Baltimore native even took to social media to describe how he almost turned down a chance of a lifetime to compete on the popular Bravo Television show.

“I was going to turn down something I’ve always dreamed about just because I didn’t want the world to see what I lacked,” he said. “I remember receiving the call that I made the show, while sleeping on my couch in my studio. I was happy but worried. So worried that I tried to talk myself out of it.”

After a successful run in which he made the final four, the judges sent Cromartie home but not before media critics and others were captivated by him.

“Bishme proved to be a powerful voice throughout this Project Runway season and his smile and personality seemed to shine a positive light,” critic Cristine Struble wrote in a review for Fansided.com. “Even in challenges were he struggled, there always seemed to be a seed of hope in the experience.”

Bishme Cromartie's Spring/Summer collection presented during LA Fashion Week in 2018. Cromartie  held his first solo fashion show at age 16.

Bishme Cromartie

Bishme Cromartie’s Spring/Summer collection presented during LA Fashion Week in 2018. Cromartie held his first solo fashion show at age 16.

Cromartie says it was a learning experience and he enjoyed his time on the show.

“It’s weird because I didn’t realize I was the first person from Baltimore City to be on the show, and one of the first self-taught designers to get that far,” Cromartie said. “I think I learned a lot about myself, and the experience that I had as I get more connected to myself as a person and being able to realize true confidence— it boosted my creativity and my confidence, so to have this platform and being able to stay true to yourself and to discover who you are as a person.”

The fact that he lasted so deep into the season also was a victory for Cromartie.

“Going in, I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t have to leave after the first episode and I knew I wanted to stay there long enough to so that people could truly understand who I am,” Cromartie said.

One of the more surprising parts of being on the show was how quickly time went by, he said.

“Time is not on your side just like a designer’s time is different because what people think take two days, we really need at least one week to do,” Cromartie said.

A self-taught designer, Cromartie was just eight-years-old when he says he realized that he was interested in fashion. By age nine, he was already learning how to sew, and he says he loved the feeling that fashion had given him.

Also growing up in what he says was a rough neighborhood, it was fashion that helped him escape his unappealing surroundings.

“I grew up in the inner city in Baltimore and I wanted to be my own example and I put my creative thinking into design, and I began listening to a showcase and it allowed me to thing freely and it allowed me to explore a different world,” Cromartie said.

At the age of 16, Cromartie held his first solo fashion show which revealed insight into his chic, edgy and surprising style. And, even before Project Runway, he had already began making his mark— dressing such celebrities as Andra Day, Mel B, and Niecy Nash.

“Throughout my life I’ve had the opportunity to meet amazing people and learn amazing things that I wouldn’t have learned if I didn’t keep going,” Cromartie said.

As for advice he would offer aspiring designers?

“Not everyone is fine with their clothes because [the clothes] are beautiful. A lot of customers now are turning into conscious customers,” Cromartie said. “So you have to have a message that allows people to connect with you.”

Jazz Pianist Richard D. Johnson Joins Peabody Conservatory Faculty

The Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University welcomes pianist Richard D. Johnson to its jazz studies faculty beginning in the 2019-20 academic year.

A graduate of Berklee, the Boston Conservatory and the New England Conservatory’s Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, Richard D. Johnson was first introduced to the piano at the age of five by his father, the longtime organist of Baltimore’s Faith Baptist Church.

Today, Johnson is a seasoned performer, composer and arranger, who appeared with such jazz icons as Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Arturo Sandoval. He was a member of Wynton Marsalis’ Septet and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra from 2000 to 2003 and has also played as part of the Russell Malone Quartet, Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet, and the Bobby Watson Quartet.

As a Musical Ambassador under the auspices of the U.S. State Department, he shared the gift of jazz in more than 76 countries in Central and South America, Africa, and the Middle East. He has also served as the acting Jazz Ambassador at the Jazz at Lincoln Center venue in Doha, Qatar; and as musical director for Atlanta Spirit, LLC, where he created a live instrumental five-member band for the National Basketball Association and performed at all 46 home games in the 2005 season. Johnson currently serves as the piano instructor for the Ravinia Jazz Program in Chicago. His Reach Afar program is dedicated to teaching young people about elements of jazz in hip-hop.

Johnson joins a roster of Peabody jazz studies faculty artists headed by Sean Jones, Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies.

Under the Conservatory’s new Breakthrough Curriculum— designed to help students develop skills in performance excellence, career development, and citizen artistry to meet the demands of today’s ever-changing musical landscape— jazz studies is becoming increasingly integrated with other programs across the Conservatory and expanding its connections to communities across the region.

This Summer’s Ultimate Old Bay Fan Contest

#OldBayFanContest wants you to show your love by submitting your best expressions of fandom for a chance to be crowned the ultimate fan

Do you go crazy for Old Bay® Seasoning and consider yourself the ultimate fan? Then prove it! Old Bay is searching for the ultimate fan this summer by launching the #OldBayFanContest on Instagram, asking loyal fans to show their love for the iconic flavor. From tattoos and wedding cakes to family sweaters and cross-stitchings, Old Bay fans don’t just like it.

This is how the contest works— post a photo or video on Instagram that shows your love for Old Bay with the hashtag #OldBayFanContest and tag @oldbay_seasoning with a caption explaining your love for a chance to be crowned the ultimate Old Bay fan and to win the Ultimate Old Bay fan trophy as well as an Old Bay electric scooter by summer’s end.

“People in Maryland and D.C. are wildly passionate about Old Bay and express their love in extremely creative ways,” said Alia Kemet, Creative & Digital Strategic Director, with Old Bay brand. “Our heritage, tradition and taste are key factors when it comes to the devotion of our fans, who already know you don’t just like Old Bay. What better way to celebrate their love of the product than through a campaign that spotlights and rewards it!”

For more than 75 years, this distinctive blend of 18 herbs and spices has been a time-honored taste. Just as the recipe hasn’t changed, neither has the iconic yellow and blue can graphics. Once only enjoyed by a lucky few along the Chesapeake Bay, Old Bay® Seasoning has gained fans all across the country.

The #OldBayFanContest runs until August 20, 2019 at 11:59 pm ET. For complete Official Rules and eligibility, visit OldBay.com/Contest.

Of course, the good, old-fashioned way to show one’s love of Old Bay is by cooking with it. As the official taste of summer, Old Bay is a staple in favorites like crab cakes, shrimp, summer salads, corn-on-the-cob and more.

For recipes, tips, merchandise and more information about the contest, visit: OldBay.com and www.facebook.com/oldbay.

Year Up Baltimore Continues To Fulfill Its Mission

In the future, every young adult will have an opportunity to reach their potential— that’s the mission of Year Up Baltimore, an intensive training program that provides talented and motivated, yet underserved young adults ages 18 to 24 with a combination of hands-on skills development, coursework eligible for college credit, corporate internships and support.

The mission of Year Up is to close the opportunity divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.

It’s a mission that Latonya Hines has taken to heart in her six years at Year Up where she serves as director of Admissions & College Enrollment— responsible for ensuring that the Admissions & Recruitment team brings in qualified young adults who are underserved and are seeking an opportunity to reach their potential.

“I love the mission,” said Hines, who attended Cherry Hill Elementary School, Deer Park Middle School and Randallstown High School.

“Their success and them returning to their communities to share the opportunity and help with this movement,” Hines said, when asked what is most important to her about Year Up Baltimore and her students.

Year Up achieves its mission through what they call a high-expectation model that combines marketable job skills, stipend, internships and college credits.

“One thing that stands out about Year Up is the soft skills taught to our students in their Career Development classes,” said Hines, a Baltimore native who was raised in Randallstown. “At Year Up, we give you a full toolkit that prepares your professional norms in the work place such as email etiquette, having one-to-one’s with your manager, building networking skills, interview skills, importance of being on time, and showing up every day ready to perform at your very best, just to name a few.”

Hines says her students serve as daily inspiration and the success stories remind her of why she works there.

One example is a student who “fired” himself from Year Up cope with the loss of a child and the death of a friend to gun violence. Despite those life-altering events, Hines says the student was determined to succeed.

“He knew that he had more to offer to himself, his family and the community so he re-applied to Year Up for a second chance at success and I am proud to say that he was able to complete Year Up after the second time around,” Hines said. “He was able to push through by discontinuing some of the outside relationships that were causing his set back and distractions. He was focused and determined to be a success story and he had all of the grit and determination to do so and he completed his internship at Whiting-Turner and was hired on as a full time employee at the end of his internship.

“He was the first and only student who was able to successfully complete Year Up after being afforded a second opportunity.”

Personally, Hines says she learned hard work from her mother.

“I believe that you should go above and beyond, and perform at a level of excellence in everything you do. Any successful or good thing you see in me— is all God, and I am grateful for any success I may have in my career,” she said adding that, “working at Year Up, I am beyond blessed.”

It’s difficult to overlook how Year Up changes so many lives, according to Hines.

“We have over 600 alumni that have successfully gone through Year Up from Baltimore City and surrounding counties. This is a huge impact because over 90 percent of our graduates are gainfully employed, have returned to school full time or a combination of both work and school,” Hines said. “Our impact needs to be stronger, we need to expand our reach to the thousands of young adults who need a Year Up to jump start their careers and bright future.”

Plastics Are Strangling The Planet

On my morning walk, I pass a tree every day that has a long plastic bag stuck in the branches. I keep wondering whether my neighbor realizes that the bag is strangling the tree. I am not exaggerating. The plastic is not simply sitting on the branches but is cutting off air to the tree. Over time, that branch could die. Think about that the next time you are driving and see plastic bags flying around landing on bushes and trees. This is not a neutral issue.

I thought, again, about this matter of plastics when I read a fascinating piece in the Guardian concerning the global glut of plastics and the role of the USA in the proliferation of plastic material. It is not just that we, in the USA, are producing an abundance of plastic material. It is that we are shipping the waste overseas to the global South for, alleged, recycling or, in other cases, for simply dumping. A global version of “not in my backyard.”

You have probably heard about islands of plastic (and other garbage) inhabiting our oceans. The impact of this is the dying off of entire segments of oceans. In addition, many countries in the global North, including but not limited to the USA, look at the countries of the global South as a massive garbage dump. What we use and use-up, we then send to the global South to be disposed of.

A recent global conference on plastics was stymied by the Trump administration which wished to take little to no responsibility for the proliferation of plastics and blamed the current glut on Asian countries. What was so disingenuous about this is the historical role of the USA in promoting the use of plastics and paying no attention to disposal. Instead, the Trump administration acted as if there was no dirt on its shoes, or perhaps, no plastic sticking to its shoes (?), and that the blame lay elsewhere.

It is critical to highlight this issue to remind ourselves that the environmental challenges facing the planet are not solely about climate change, as critical as that happens to be. There is environmental catastrophe unfolding, much of which is playing out in our oceans.

In this context, the notion of “America First,” in addition to having been a slogan of pre-World War II U.S. fascists, is the slogan of idiots. The USA does not exist on planet Earth by itself. The planetary crisis in plastics is one that no one nation-state can resolve alone. There must be a collective pact, and this necessitates a shift in the attitude of an arrogant US administration. This, of course, will only happen through a combination of mass pressure and the electoral removal of those who think that one can ‘make America great again,’ while watching planet Earth die.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com. Look for his murder mystery, “The Man Who Fell From the Sky.”

Ravens Must Maximize Quarterback Lamar Jackson’s Passing Ability

The Baltimore Ravens made an assertive commitment to quarterback Lamar Jackson during the offseason. Now the team has to showcase Jackson’s playmaking ability especially as a passer to make cash in on their commitment.

Trading long-time starter Joe Flacco to the Denver Broncos eliminated any questions about Jackson being the starter in his second season. The trade was compounded by the promotion of Greg Roman from run game coordinator to offensive coordinator with the Ravens.

Former offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was able to influx Jackson into the offense with the help of Roman. However, it was reliant mostly upon Jackson’s rushing ability with a few passing opportunities sprinkled into the mix.

Jackson is severely underrated as a passer. A quick scroll through the various NFL TV shows establish a theme saying opposing teams need to dare Jackson to beat them throwing the football. To that, Roman and the Ravens passing game need to say, “Be careful what you ask for!”

Jackson is able to make tremendous throws down the field whether it be on go routes or posts. He may struggle with some of the intermediate passes such as deep digs, but those can come with work. Creating a multi-level passing attack will help Baltimore be more damaging through the air.

The Ravens already have a talented group of tight ends in Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst. Willie Snead and Chris Moore are serviceable options to roam the middle of the field as well. However, the team needed to add a deep threat and someone that can take a short pass a long way to the end zone.

Baltimore added speedy wideout Marquis Brown and former Notre Dame playmaker Miles Boykin in the draft to fill those roles. They signed bell cow running back Mark Ingram to provided a rushing threat that will help set up the play action passing game as well.

Those three moves suddenly make the Ravens an explosive passing team. Jackson reported to OTAs and minicamp with more confidence in his second season. As a rookie, he was just trying to get acclimated. Now, he knows he is the captain of the ship.

The revamped offense should give Jackson opportunities to make plays on the run thanks to a lot of play action and rollouts. Roman would be wise to incorporate the read option to take advantage of the rushing threat Jackson presents.

There will also be opportunities for Jackson to extend plays and push the ball down the field. His athleticism will be on full display in these situations. Jackson is easily able to throw the deep pass with accuracy to receivers that turn their route up field when plays break down.

While everyone is preparing to stop the Ravens run heavy attack from last year, Roman is revamping the offense. He has found success with passers that are dangerous runners, including: Colin Kaepernick, Alex Smith and Tyrod Taylor in the past. Jackson is next in line to be showcased as a dual threat under center.

A Tale Of Two Graduations

I love graduations! I thoroughly enjoy the sense of achievement and possibility that permeates the air. Graduations signify an ending, but the term “commencement” is used to signify beginnings since they are not only an opportunity to mark completion but also to mark the beginning of a new chapter of life. In some ways, commencements, regardless of the college or university, with the pomp and circumstance, the ritual robes, the rousing speeches, the tearful families. The two commencements I attended during this graduation season shared those characteristics, but in many ways, they could not have been more different.

I attended the commencement at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) because my dear friend and fearless leader, Rev. Jesse Jackson received an honorary degree. Congresswoman Maxine Waters also received an honorary degree and delivered the commencement address. Nearly a month later, I attended the commencement ceremony at Dartmouth College, where my beloved godson, Matthew Elijah Brown, earned his undergraduate degree.

Dartmouth is located in bucolic Hanover, New Hampshire, miles away from anything that resembles an urban space (Boston is more than two hours away). Its student body is overwhelmingly white, with nonwhite students (which includes African American, Latin, Asian American, Native American, and others) representing less than 15 percent of the population. The cost of attendance at Dartmouth exceeds $60,000.

UDC an urban, land-grant HBCU, has several campuses, including a flagship campus in upper northwest, D.C. and a community college not too far from Union Station. Its student body is predominately minority. Tuition at the flagship campus is a bit over $5000. Most UDC students are part-time students; most Dartmouth students attend full-time. The UDC student body is predominately female, while Dartmouth didn’t admit its first women to the college until 1973.

While Congresswoman Waters was the commencement speaker at UDC, the cellist Yo-Yo Ma was the commencement speaker at Dartmouth. I’m not sure what my expectations were of the cellist, but he exceeded them! He delivered provocative and challenging remarks in a still, soothing voice, reminding students that they have a power that should never be abused. He challenged students to be human beings before they are professionals or careerists. Most interestingly, he urged stillness.

He said, “Learn to listen to the voice in the wilderness. Learn to be the voice in the wilderness.” What a message to give a group of young people who will easily earn six figures upon graduation, many headed to Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the venture capital world! If I didn’t know any better, the gentle Yo-Yo Ma could have been delivering a rebuke to the current inhabitant of the house that enslaved people built and the many other conformists who do not embrace the value of humanity.

“Practice your humanity daily,” the cellist said. He offered solid and stirring advice in an extremely graceless age and then, he played the cello.

While Yo-Yo Ma didn’t mention the name of the cretin in the house that enslaved people built, Maxine Waters, calling for activism certainly did. Like Yo-Yo Ma, she encouraged students to find their voices. The fiery congresswoman urged them to activism. She took on hypocrisy in tones far more strident than Yo Yo Ma’s, but she was equally inspirational. And while Yo Yo Ma didn’t tackle public policy much, Waters did, focusing on the oppressive legislation that has been characteristic of this administration.

The similarity in the two commencement addresses lay in the call for self-awareness, disruption, humanity and focus. While many students don’t remember their commencement speaker, it is unlikely that students at either UDC or Dartmouth will forget the speakers they experienced. And while the students are demographically different, one can hope that the call to “practice humanity” is one that will be heeded. It is, perhaps a sign of the times, that graduates have to be urged to practice humanity, but so much of our world is inhumane, placing profits over people, that the admonition is appropriate.

There are more than 4000 four-year colleges and universities in our nation. The students graduating from Dartmouth and UDC represent a small fraction of the total. The UDC students, many nontraditional, are more likely to shoulder student debt than the Dartmouth students. However both sets of students will face challenges, and both have the responsibility, as Maxine Waters urged, to find a cause and tackle it. And, in the words of Yo-Yo Ma, to “practice humanity.”

Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist. Her latest project MALVEAUX! On UDCTV is available on youtube.com. For booking, wholesale inquiries or for more information, visit www.juliannemalveaux.com.