Oprah Donates $1.15 Million To Help Minority Students Succeed In College

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Oprah Donates To UNCF

— Oprah Winfrey stunned a predominantly-female audience in Charlotte on Saturday by announcing she would donate $1.15 million to help minority students attend and succeed in college.

Winfrey was speaking at the 17th annual Maya Angelou Women Who Lead Luncheon, where the United Negro College Fund was hoping to raise $1 million for North Carolina students.

After the video screen showed that $1.15 million had been raised, Winfrey announced: “So here’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to match that number!” The crowd erupted in cheers, screams of joy and applause.

The donation doubled the total raised to $2.3 million, vastly exceeding the organization’s fundraising goals.

Winfrey has long campaigned for children’s rights and education, having founded in 2007 the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa,

“I’m also here today because I believe in the power of education. There is nothing better than to open the door of opportunity for someone,” she said, according to CNN affiliate WSOC-TV.

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Baltimore Artist’s Colorful Mural Transforms Poe Houses Basketball Court

A bright, freshly minted, attractive mural that promises to pump excitement into the somewhat downtrodden Poe Homes Apartment buildings in Baltimore has transformed the neighborhood basketball court.

The project is the work of Baltimore artist Wendell “Supreme” Shannon, whose art career was inspired by the legendary Charm City artist, Larry Poncho Brown.

Shannon says he and another artist, Ezekiel Givens, came up with the idea for the colorful mural from Renaissance Day Experiences.

“We definitely felt that we needed to help some of the underserved communities. So we started working with Renaissance Day Experience to renovate several parks, recreation centers, schools, and courtyards to bring a positive light throughout the city,” Shannon said.

During the water crisis at the Poe Homes, Shannon says he came across a video that revealed the condition of the basketball court.

An aerial view of the mural painted on the basketball court in Poe Homes by artist Wendell “Supreme” Shannon, residents and volunteers.

An aerial view of the mural painted on the basketball court in Poe Homes by artist Wendell “Supreme” Shannon, residents and volunteers.

“At the time, I wasn’t able to do much as far as a donation, but I knew I had a skill set that would leave an impression on those kids,” Shannon said. “I contacted the Poe Homes, and we did crowdfunding, and more than 30 Baltimore businesses donated or contributed services toward the efforts.”

Volunteers from Baltimore were joined by people from as far away as Atlanta, Charlotte, and New York and set to work. The result is a geometric abstract painting that includes several vibrant colors, which Shannon says is intended to promote positivity, energy and optimism.

“I’m ecstatic. The process brought so many people together, and the kids are excited,” Shannon said. “While we were doing the mural, the kids would run home from school to see the project, and it was so much joy seeing the smiles on their faces.”

Born in New York, Shannon says he is an intuitive artist. He further says that his work reflects his dedication, precision, focus and the determination to re-introduce a unique brand of creativity to the forefront of his era.

Shannon has also had to overcome hardship and illness. While a student at Morgan State University, he was diagnosed with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, Raynaud’s Phenomenon, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Dermatomyositis. His illnesses have greatly affected the use of his hands, but it didn’t prevent him from plying his craft.

“I tried to stay focused with optimism,” Shannon said. “Art is a form of therapy for myself. It helps me to relax and take care of myself.”

As he wrapped up the mural project, Shannon says an official grand opening is scheduled for Sunday, September 29, 2019 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

He is also looking forward to hosting a solo exhibition at the Baltimore Assembly Room on December 4, 2019.

“I will continue to focus on the community and look to do more projects,” Shannon said. “We hope that other Baltimore artists will have opportunities to showcase their work in a way that promotes positivity.”

To view or purchase paintings by Wendell Shannon, visit: www.solelysupreme.com.

After Eight Years In Prison, Marcus Bullock’s Invention Helps Inmates Connect With Their Families

Marcus Bullock is an entrepreneur, justice reform advocate and public speaker.

Profiled in Black Enterprise, on CNN, and in TechCrunch, Bullock has also spoken on a TEDx program, and at a Black Men Xcel Summit sponsored by Koch Industries. His resume is nothing short of impressive.

However, arguably more impressive is how Bullock, a 2015 Innovator of the Year, and 2016 Booz Allen Hamilton Aspen Ideas award winner, found success.

By his admission, Bullock had as tough a childhood as anyone. At 12, he survived a kidnapping but still turned to a life of crime. At 15, he committed a carjacking, which led to an eight-year prison sentence.

Today, Bullock is the founder and CEO of Flikshop, a photo-sharing app for inmates around the country.

“When I was in prison, receiving mail was like winning the lottery. Like the power ball,” Bullock said. “That feeling when you get mail is the only thing you can hold onto because you’re on the inside and you’ve been told that you are a monster. So, when the mail call happens, and everybody is standing in their cell hoping to get mail, it’s like a big thing. It doesn’t matter what the contents are, and you are just aware that someone knows and cares that you exist.”

Bullock developed Flikshop to help make it easy for inmates to connect with their loved ones— and, to get mail.

He says the app is quite simple. A family member or loved one can use their mobile device or personal computer to take a picture and type a message. For 99 cents, Flikshop prints the photo and message on a postcard and mails it to the inmate. Flikshop ships to 2,200 prisons in all 50 states.

“Just like someone posts to Instagram, they can hit send, and that postcard is sent out to any correctional facility in the country,” Bullock said. “It’s a way that people can stay in touch with their loved ones like how my mother stayed in contact with me when I was incarcerated.

Bullock’s app has earned rave reviews. Recently, he was featured in a series

developed by Black Enterprise called “Success Beyond Bars,” a Koch Industries sponsored video event that spotlights formerly incarcerated individuals who have turned their lives around.

Reportedly, Flikshop has caught the attention of celebrities like John Legend and former basketball star Baron Davis.

Flikshop won a $50,000 grant from Unlocked Futures, a business accelerator affiliated with Legend, and the app earned a $120,000 investment from Techstars, which provides grants and consulting services for promising startups.

The Campaign for Youth Justice, which advocates against prosecuting and incarcerating juvenile offenders as adults, uses Flikshop to stay in touch with more than 400 people who were sent to adult prisons while they were still children.

Bullock says he knows he is fortunate, but after prison, he worked diligently to make a living. Although statistics have shown that formerly incarcerated individuals struggle to find employment, the tech space could help change that.

“One of the things that I’m most excited about is to work [in] the tech space. It is an opportunity that’s becoming more available for people with felonies,” Bullock said. “If you come into a room, and you can still build, nobody cares [that you have a criminal record]. The tech space is the only place where you can have a sustainable life and actually get to a point where you can sign a contract the size of someone making the minimum salary in the NFL.

“We’re introducing a lot of conversations around diversity, and inclusiveness inside of the tech community. The reality of it is that there are tons and tons of opportunities that are out there, especially in tech communities.”

Families and loved ones of inmates can visit flikshop.com for more information. They can also download the Flikshop app to their mobile device using iTunes or Google Play.

AKA Raises $1 Million For HBCUs In One Day Plus Announces Collaboration with Black Press of America

For the second year in a row, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African American college-educated women, raised $1 million in just 24 hours during this month’s HBCU Impact Day. The AKA Sorority, Inc. also has agreed to collaborate in the planning for the upcoming 80th-anniversary celebration of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) in 2020.

Dr. Glenda Glover, International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., said the sorority would work with NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards and NNPA President and CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., during the NNPA’s annual convention June 23-25, 2020 in New Orleans.

“When you need to know the positive stories— the real stories— about African Americans, then you understand our dependence on the Black Press for our news,” said Dr. Glover, the international president of AKA and president of the historically-Black Tennessee State University. “It is my honor to be a part of this. Alpha Kappa Alpha has been a partner to the Black Press even right here in Nashville with the Tennessee Tribune.”

While the first African American-owned newspaper was founded 192 years ago, the establishment of the NNPA took place in 1940 during a meeting in Chicago.

Since its founding, the NNPA has advocated for the Black Press of America and delivering news to millions of people daily and weekly from the African American perspective. The NNPA is the national trade association that currently represents a vast conglomerate of more than 223 black-owned newspapers throughout the country that comprise the Black Press of America.

For her part, Dr. Glover and the AKAs have steadfastly continued to promote support of HBCUs across the nation.

Dr. Glover has led that challenge for contributions as part of a four-year $10 million fundraising goal to benefit HBCUs.

“As a college president, I need to recognize the need for HBCUs. I need to recognize the operating needs, and the financial needs because we need funds to survive,” Dr. Glover said. “I asked my membership to support this initiative. We galvanized members, individuals, and corporate sponsors. We kept going back again, and again.

“It’s a tremendous feat to raise $1 million in one day, but we knew HBCUs needed to have funding, sustainability, and we have to make sure to secure the endowments of each university.”

In February, AKA gifted $1.6 million from their AKA-HBCU Endowment Fund to 32 HBCUs.

As an HBCU graduate, Glover said she has dedicated her life’s work to the HBCU community.

“I understand the impact personally that establishing an endowment has on a student’s enrollment and graduation prospects,” Dr. Glover said. “The actions of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. will go a long way toward ensuring that HBCUs remain open and able to encourage the best black students to choose them as a first option.”

AKA began on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1908. Today, nearly 300,000 members make up the sorority in approximately 1,018 graduate and undergraduate chapters in the U.S., the U.S. Virgin Islands, Liberia, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Dubai, Germany, Japan, and South Korea.

For her four-year tenure as president, Dr. Glover has implemented a five-point plan for AKA which includes the HBCU initiative.

The other four plan points include a women’s healthcare and wellness plan; building your economic legacy; the Arts; and global impact.

“We try to make sure that we handle certain national and international issues,” Dr. Glover said. “We have a program of wellness and health. We have a breast cancer mobile unit that travels around the country giving free mammograms to African American women.

“We know that breast cancer tends not to be found in black women until it reaches stage 4,” Dr. Glover said. “With all of our initiatives, we want to make sure that African Americans don’t get lost in the shuffle. That is why we have programs and services that benefit the community.”

Baltimore Start Up Among Finalists In $100,000 Competition

Baltimore’s Ellington West has become quite the innovator as CEO of Sonavi Labs. The startup is one of seven small businesses from across the country that will pitch to a panel of experts for the chance to win $100,000 to support the business’s growth.

Nationwide and BlueVine will announce the ‘Pitch To Win” contest winner on Thursday, October 3, 2019 in Ohio.

Sonavi Labs is an innovative device and software company focused on developing new medical products that analyze body sounds for the diagnosis of diseases.

The company creates technology rooted in artificial intelligence that aims to evolve the patient experience and enhance the capabilities of providers worldwide. The first two devices being launched by Sonavi in 2019 are Feelix and FeelixPro— digital stethoscopes that incorporate its patented core AI technology.

Sonavi has re-engineered the classic stethoscope by adding active noise cancellation to dramatically enhance sound fidelity and on-device algorithms that automatically detect lung sound abnormalities.

“This is a tool to detect lung diseases, particularly in areas where you have a shortage of doctors and health care professionals to treat patients,” West said. “The tool would allow anyone, anywhere, at any time, the ability to diagnose a respiratory disease with the accuracy of a physician.”

It began with scientific research at Johns Hopkins University, where West’s father Dr. James West, is a research professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is also a research professor of Mechanical Engineering.

“In his lab, he and his colleague, and two students developed this algorithm that can identify lung abnormalities just from listening and processing data,” Ellington West said.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation then issued a challenge that noted that pneumonia was the leading cause of infant mortality worldwide, according to West.

She questioned why so many were losing their lives since pneumonia is both detectable and treatable.

“The team at Hopkins said it all comes down to access to a timely diagnosis. They developed a low-cost stethoscope that allowed them to do onboard, real-time, long-sound analysis,” West said.

However, the tool remained in the lab while her father tackled the next challenge, West said.

“But, he (her father) said if we don’t do anything about this, then it’s just going to stay on the shelf. It’s not going to get into the hands of the people that need it,” she said. “So, I decided to quit my job and take this on fulltime.”

The stethoscope created by West’s company should help physicians with diagnostic support because it has onboard storage and provides real-time analytics.

“As for the community health— we’re empowering the community health workers to make quick decisions that otherwise they wouldn’t be able to make alone,” West said. “And, as for the parent who’s wondering should they go to the emergency room, they can share this clean data with their physician and have them review it. This can track the trends of patients and let them know if they’re getting better.”

The company creates AI-enabled digital stethoscopes; remote monitoring devices; supportive apps;  and a smart cloud system that can analyze body sounds and identify respiratory abnormalities independent of a doctor.

Courtesy Photo/Sonavi Labs

The company creates AI-enabled digital stethoscopes; remote monitoring devices; supportive apps; and a smart cloud system that can analyze body sounds and identify respiratory abnormalities independent of a doctor.

The device also provides the ability for noise suppression.

“If you’re in a pediatric clinic, and there are hundreds of little children crying, that noise in the background can really distract the physician from listening. Or, if you’re transmitting that information, you don’t have a clear sound, so we’re actively canceling out any noise,” West said.

West entered the device in the “Pitch To Win” contest in which officials from Nationwide and BlueVine noted that access to sufficient capital is critical for small business owners looking to take their companies to the next level.

After sifting through thousands of applications from across the country, Nationwide and BlueVine selected seven small businesses, including West’s Sonavi Labs, to compete as finalists in the contest.

The winner will receive $100,000 to support their business; the runner up will get $20,000; and third place will earn $10,000. The awards will be non-dilutive, meaning business owners will not be required to give any ownership of their company to the sponsors.

Each finalist will present their business proposals in-person to an executive panel of judges, comprised of Kelley Earnhardt Miller, sister of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and co-owner of JR Motorsports; Eyal Lifshitz, founder and CEO of BlueVine; Jasmine Green, chief customer advocate at Nationwide; and Lisa Gobber, vice president of Small Commercial and Premium Audit at Nationwide.

“We are thrilled,” West said. “The better we do as a company, the better we are fit to attack diseases.”

Chart-Topping Gospel Artist Anthony Brown Honored At His Alma Mater

Seated at a piano on the stage of Morgan State University’s Recital Hall, gospel singer Anthony Brown of Anthony Brown & group therAPy, was asked what advice he would give to students faced with student debt and other challenges. The famous Morgan alumnus responded by playing the piano as he sang:

You did not create me to worry

You did not create me to fear

But You created me to worship – daily

So Ima leave it all right here

I will put my trust in You

The words were from the group’s hit ballad, “Trust In You,” one of the singles on the group’s album, “A Long Way From Sunday.” The empowering moment was among the many that took place inside the Recital Hall on Thursday, September 19. 2019 in the school’s Murphy Fine Arts Center located at 2201 Argonne Drive in Baltimore.

Anthony Brown & group therAPy were honored by the school on the anniversary of the their first Billboard No. 1 hit “Worth.” Brown was surprised with a beautiful framed award in recognition of over 250 million streams of their music on the anniversary of “Worth,” the group’s first Billboard No. 1 hit.

Brown’s honor at Morgan came the same week the group hit No. 1 again with their current radio smash, “Blessings on Blessings.” The event was attended by several members of Brown’s family, members of First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Landover, Maryland, where he serves as Worship Leader, as well as friends, Morgan faculty and students, along with other supporters and fans.

“It feels incredible to be back here at Morgan State,” said Brown who is also a graduate of the Baltimore School For the Arts. “To be here to celebrate both past and present successes is amazing.”

Brown also spoke passionately about the city.

“The news has put such a negative spin on Baltimore,” said Brown, who was also presented with a letter sent on behalf Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young. “I am the proud product of a Baltimore school and university. There are great things happening in Baltimore City. No matter what people say, I am blessed to be from this place.”

Noting the impact that former Morgan State University Choir Director, the late Dr. Nathan M. Carter, and current Director Dr. Eric Conway had on his life, Brown added, “Dr. Carter instilled so much in me as a student, as well as Dr. Conaway who now heads the Morgan Choir. All of the frustration, hard work and time I spent here paid off. I am sending the fruits of it today.”

In addition to directing the choir, Dr. Conway serves as Chairperson of Morgan’s Fine Arts Department.

“Anthony is the real deal,” said Dr. Conway. “When he sings, one hears the sincerity of his conviction. His success is also due to God’s anointing and inspiration, which is omnipresent in his composition. I am especially proud to welcome Anthony home. Welcome.”

The event was hosted by Radio One midday personality and gospel artist, Maurette Brown Clark.

“I am completely excited that Anthony has received blessings on blessings on blessings,” said Brown Clark. “I am amazing at the doors God has opened for him. We in the music community celebrate you.”

Brown began playing the piano at three-years-old. He has gone on to hone and elevate his gifts to become an award-winning music influencer and gifted songwriter. He swept the 2016 Stellar Awards, walking away with an unprecedented 10 trophies— the most won by any artist in a single year.

“I went into 2019 only saying I am only speaking blessings this year,” said Brown referring to the group being honored and their hit Blessings on Blessings. “I have watched God blow my mind with blessings all year long. It’s not just a song— it’s declarations.

“I will never forget this moment. I will write a song about it later. Sometimes we don’t share our appreciation until it’s too late. I am glad I got to share my appreciation and love. This is a huge moment for me.”

To see a video clip of Brown receiving his surprise award, visit: www.baltimoretimes-online.com

John Harbaugh Weighs Analytics Into Ravens Decisions

Analytics are becoming a more significant part of the Baltimore Ravens decision-making process. That was clear when the Ravens came up short against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3. There were many factors in the 33 – 28 loss including a couple of intriguing decisions made by head coach John Harbaugh.

Harbaugh decided to go for the two-point conversion after their opening touchdown but was unsuccessful. He decided to go for two later in the game but the Ravens couldn’t convert.

Lamar Jackson led Baltimore in a touchdown drive to pull within five points with just over two minutes left in the game. Harbaugh went for two to try and make it a three-point game. Their attempt was unsuccessful but the Ravens head coach felt it was the right thing to do.

“We are standing by our decisions. Our decisions gave us the best chance to win the game in that particular game,” Harbaugh said the day after the game. “These are not like league average choices. These are determined by this game, and in that game specifically. There’s a lot of factors that go into it— weather is even factored into. A lot of factors go into it that are mathematically calculated.”

“Mathematically calculated” isn’t something that an old school, football purist like Harbaugh typically says. However, it’s a sign of change within the Ravens decision- making process.

The team made some additions to their analytics department back in June. Harbaugh acknowledged how much work goes into the research and development side of analytics while admitting that it weighs in on his decisions on game day.

“There’s a lot of time that goes into it. It’s part of what we do. It’s not all of what we do but I have a good understanding of the numbers and how it works,” Harbaugh explained. “I have people in my ear that help with that too. Not just with that, but with challenges and things. We’re very organized in what we do. We have a method in the process and it’s very detailed and well thought out.”

Analytics have their place in the formula for making the right call in the right situation. Knowing the probabilities of outcomes and putting the team in the best situation can be extremely helpful. Even though Harbaugh has embraced, there is still value in going with his gut feeling. That’s something that can’t be measured by analytics and he still has more trust in his own instincts.

“The analytics guys will tell you that I don’t follow the analytics nearly enough. They’ll say I go by my gut way more than I go by the analytics, and I do. The flow of the game, the feel of the game, the situations I’ve been in— momentum, all of those things are something as a coach you have a real sense for. I’ll go against the analytics a lot more than I’ll go with it,” Harbaugh said.

Maryland Public Television Celebrates 50 Years

Maryland Public Television (MPT) celebrates its 50th anniversary of broadcasting excellence on October 5, 2019 with an evening of retro programming. In addition, an exhibit about MPT’s first 50 years will be on display at the Hornbake Library at the University of Maryland until July 31, 2020.

As early as January 1969, nine months before going on the air, what was then called the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting created the Urban Affairs Advisory Council with the charge to

design a series of five half-hour, weeknight programs addressing issues specific to Baltimore. Walter S. Brooks, the Center’s executive producer for urban affairs, served on the council and produced the series of shows. Programming began on the inaugural evening of October 5, 1969.

The featured weeknight shows were Urban 30, a discussion of specific inner-city issues; Our Street, an urban soap opera about the Robinsons, an African American family living in East Baltimore with lead actor Howard Rollins; Caucus, an investigation of government affairs as they affect the urban community; Strategy for Action, a show designed to help individuals participate in all levels of government; and Spotlight B-more, a showcase for local African American talent.

“MPT has been covering the issues, stories and experiences of African Americans from the first moment we went on the air. Before Good Times, before The Jeffersons, MPT had a drama series about a black family in Baltimore called Our Street,” explained Linda Taggart, vice president, development, who has worked at MPT for more than 30 years. “This series ran for five years and gave local actor Howard Rollins his first acting job before moving on to Broadway and Hollywood.”

Public television, and specifically MPT, has shared many untold stories about African Americans.

“MPT and PBS have produced programs that tell the amazing story and history of the African American experience. Iconic documentary series such as Eyes on the Prize and Henry Louis Gates’ recent series on African American history called African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross and its sequel African Americans: And Still I Rise; Stanley Nelson’s documentaries Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Freedom Riders and Boss: The Black Experience in Business all tell the dynamic and often untold stories of African Americans,” Taggart said.

“MPT’s local productions and public affairs programs look at issues facing African Americans in local communities not only on television but online,” Taggart said. “Our web-exclusive series on MPT Digital Studios covering the aftermath of the Freddie Gray riots called Voices of Baltimore was stellar.”

Charles Robinson, a reporter and associate producer at Maryland Public Television, is joined by his wife, Robbie Robinson, during his Walk of Fame installation in 2016 at MPT.

Charles Robinson, a reporter and associate producer at Maryland Public Television, is joined by his wife, Robbie Robinson, during his Walk of Fame installation in 2016 at MPT.

In July, Maryland Public Television announced it will produce in association with Stanley Nelson’s Firelight Films original documentaries about the lives of two of Maryland’s most important historical figures— Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. Both one-hour films will be distributed to public TV stations nationwide in February 2022.

Taggart also noted some of the network’s educational efforts in the classroom that enhance learning at school and at home.

“MPT’s education team works with schools, libraries and community partners, particularly in low-income areas, to use PBS KIDS and MPT multiplatform learning content to help children be equally prepared and successful in school,” Taggart said.

“Maryland Public Television provides great community programs while it also reaches such a broad audience. The African American community has been an integral part of MPT since the start. Producers are cognizant of the audience,” said Donald Thoms who worked at MPT for 20 years before assuming leadership positions at PBS and Discovery Communications prior to starting his own consulting company.

Thoms joined the MPT staff as a master control director in 1973. Over the years he moved up to executive producer. Among his credits are “The Critic’s Place,” “Up on the Farm” and “Wall $treet Week.” Thoms is also co-creator of Outdoors Maryland, one of MPT’s longest running and most popular shows.

“Almost every success I have had, I learned at MPT. You learned to be creative, and I worked with an amazing group of people,” Thoms explained.

A member of the MPT staff for nearly 20 years, Charles Robinson is a reporter for the weekly series State Circle and Your Money and Business. In addition, he is an associate producer, which enables him to do research and work on a variety of documentaries and other shows.

“I love being able to share stories of Maryland and its people,” Robinson said. “I often find myself in many places across the state that few people have thought of and visited. There is just so much out there, I never seem to run out of ideas.”

His work has been honored with several awards over the years. People of Brown, a documentary marking the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. the Board of Education desegregation case, received local, regional and national honors. In addition, he has won awards for the MPT series Hardworking Families.

“One of our slogans is ‘TV Worth Watching.’ I have worked in commercial television, and it has its place, but I often find myself tuning into what we’re airing because it challenges conventional thinking and motivates me to go beyond what’s comfortable,” Robinson said. “Where else would you find the things we put on the air?”

To learn more about Maryland Public Television and its 50th anniversary, visit mpt.org/50th.

Six Local Women To Be Honored At Fannie Lou Hamer Awards Reception Oct. 6

Chosen from across Anne Arundel County, six trailblazing women will be honored during the 101st birthday celebration of the late civil rights heroine, Fannie Lou Hamer at the 23rd Annual Fannie Lou Hamer Awards Reception on Sunday October 6, 2019 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Frances Scott Key Auditorium at St. John’s College in Annapolis.

Michelle Coates Senior Vice President and Treasury Management Sales Manager at Howard Bank. She recently joined the Board of Directors of Maryland Council of Economic Education Association.

Michelle Coates Senior Vice President and Treasury Management Sales Manager at Howard Bank. She recently joined the Board of Directors of Maryland Council of Economic Education Association.

Panayiotis Kanelos, the president of St. Johns College will offer welcoming remarks and a concluding dinner with wine will be served.

Rosalind Hill-Cane Licensed social worker and has worked for the Department of Human Services for 27 years, supporting the Consolidated Family Services, the Treatment Foster Care Program.

Rosalind Hill-Cane Licensed social worker and has worked for the Department of Human Services for 27 years, supporting the Consolidated Family Services, the Treatment Foster Care Program.

Fannie Lou Hamer, 1917-1977, was an American voting rights activist, civil rights leader, and philanthropist. The awards that bear her name recognize women from various racial backgrounds who, while not necessarily household names have excelled in their chosen field while working diligently to improve civil and human rights in the region.

Vaness Bright Founder and president of BeeHavin’ LLC and the founder and executive director of the Maryland Reentry Resource Center.

Vaness Bright Founder and president of BeeHavin’ LLC and the founder and executive director of the Maryland Reentry Resource Center.

Known for impacting their community— whether through social justice or historical outreach— each woman has made a lasting mark on Anne Arundel County. All of this year’s honorees— Vanessa Bright; Dr. Pamela Brown; Michelle Coates; Rosalind Hill-Cane; Linda Mundy; and Barbara Palmer— join the ranks of more than 100 notable women, including former Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Administrative Law Judge Tracey Warren Parker, and former Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer, who were nominated in years past.

Dr. Pamela Brown Executive Director for Anne Arundel County Partnership for Children, Youth, and Families in Annapolis

Dr. Pamela Brown Executive Director for Anne Arundel County Partnership for Children, Youth, and Families in Annapolis

In the spirit of Hamer, honoree Dr. Pamela Brown has made community service her career for the past two decades, working primarily with at-risk children and families in the community.

Helped launch the Arundel Connected Together (ACT), where she served as the organization’s first treasurer, and continues to serve on the Strategy Team.

Helped launch the Arundel Connected Together (ACT), where she served as the organization’s first treasurer, and continues to serve on the Strategy Team.

Honoree Linda Mundy was instrumental in funding the Annapolis Trust, which provides scholarships and mentoring for low-income students. Barbara Palmer left a major airline to support the nonprofit sector, serving in various capacities and eventually establishing her own non-profit daycare.

“These women exemplify the leadership Ms. Hamer brought to the Civil Rights movement,” said Carl Snowden, chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee. “Their commitment to the Anne Arundel County community is humbling, and we thank them for their service. We are thrilled to take this evening, on the 101st birthday of Ms. Hamer, to honor and celebrate this champion for economic and social justice, and the women she inspired.”

Each year, a committee of community residents choose six outstanding women from a list of nominees who live and/or or work in Anne Arundel County. Anne Arundel is the only jurisdiction in the State of Maryland to celebrate Hamer’s memory with awards of this nature

Sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Anne Arundel County and co-sponsored by St. Johns College, tickets for the event are $35 in advance at www.mlkjrmd.org and will also be available at the door. For more information, call 301-538-6353 or 410-419-2208 or e-mail arankin58@hotmail.com

Voter Registration Makes A Difference In Communities Of Color

Last week, voting rights, advocates and allies celebrated National Voter Registration Day, a single day dedicated to registering as many eligible voters as possible. Throughout the week, organizers across the country kicked off fall campaigns to register black and brown voters ahead of consequential municipal and statewide elections occurring this year. Increasing evidence shows that these community-led engagement campaigns are making a difference, leading to higher registration rates and increased turnout among voters of color over the last two years. It is imperative we continue to support year-round grassroots efforts to engage voters of color so they can register to vote and build power in their communities.

In Tennessee, the Tennessee Black Voter Project collected 90,000 registration applications ahead of the 2018-midterm elections. The crush of applications overwhelmed state election officials; the state ranked 45th in the nation in terms of voter registration. While the work of the Tennessee Black Voter Project prompted the state legislature to pass restrictive laws around third-party voter registration, the Project had a significant impact. According to U.S. Census data, turnout among Tennessee’s Black voters increased from 31 to 45 percent from 2014 to 2018.

In states like Florida, New Florida Majority, one of Advancement Project National Office’s partner is working diligently to get one million Floridians back on the voting rolls. In 2018, the state overwhelmingly passed Amendment 4, a historic ballot initiative that automatically restores the rights of residents with prior felony convictions. This fall, the organization will fan out to register hundreds of thousands of Floridians who have regained their eligibility and ensure they are able to vote in this year’s municipal elections, and the 2020 presidential election. And because felony disenfranchisement disproportionately impacts Florida’s Black and Brown communities, their online and in-person efforts will make a huge difference in re-enfranchising voters of color.

In Louisiana, organizations like Voices Of The Experienced (VOTE) help Returning Citizens complete the voting rights restoration process. After the Louisiana legislature passed Act 636, a law restoring the voting rights of Returning Citizens, or people who have been formerly incarcerated and have completed probation and parole, VOTE canvassed neighborhoods; hosted voter registration drives; and completed voter education. Their efforts have helped hundreds of Louisiana residents register and regain their right to vote.

It is imperative that we continue to support voter registration efforts because many states are working to criminalize voter registration efforts and/or make voter registration harder for black and brown people. After a dramatic increase in voter registration applications in 2018, Tennessee passed a law fining groups conducting voter registration drives up to $10,000 for submitting incomplete or inaccurate forms. While a federal judge rightfully blocked the law earlier this month, our support for easy, simple and straightforward voter registration is necessary to combat voters suppression measures that have bloomed across the country over the past six years.

Research shows that systemic barriers that make it harder to register and cast a ballot decrease the likelihood of voter participation. It is imperative that voters of color continue to advocate for measures that make voter registration easier and more accessible for all.

Pro-democracy reforms like online registration, pre-registration for 16 and 17 olds, and automatic voter registration reduce barriers to the ballot box. They also increase the likelihood that people of color can build political power through the electoral system and make fundamental change in their communities. Finally, we must encourage our friends, relatives, and colleagues to register today! Our democracy is counting on it.

Judith Browne Dianis is the Executive Director of Advancement Project National Office, a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice.