Hundreds Expected To Rally In Annapolis To Show Support for Behavioral Health At Keep The Door Open Rally


Thursday, Feb. 27 at noon


Maryland Fire Rescue Services Memorial

Calvert & Bladen Streets, Annapolis, MD 21401


Invited speakers and attendees:

Elected officials, including: Senator Guy Guzzone, D-13; Senator Malcolm Augustine, D-47; Senator Addie Eckardt, R-39; Senator Katie Fry Hester, D-9; and Delegate Heather Bagnall, D-33

Dan Martin, Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition

Nicole Acle, Wicomico County Council

Kevin Lindamood, Health Care for the Homeless

Nina Ovian,On Our Own of Maryland

Cari Cho, Community Behavioral Health

Vickie Walters, Maryland Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence

Katie Farinholt, NAMI Maryland

Daphne McClellan, National Association of Social Workers

Carlos Hardy, National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence


The Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition will host concerned parents, children, families, advocates and supporters to urge lawmakers to support programs and funding for Marylanders living with mental health and substance use disorders.

Behavioral health encompasses the full range of both mental health and substance use disorders. More than 1 in 5 Marylanders will experience a mental health or substance use disorder in any given year. Over 300,000 Marylanders now rely on the state’s public behavioral health system. View the coalition’s full legislative platform here.


Signage and interviews with lawmakers and advocates.

The Behavioral Health Coalition of Maryland is a diverse mix of more than 50 nonprofit organizations working together to ensure individuals affected by mental health and substance use disorders have high quality and accessible services for their needs.

Our Medical Innovation System Is Under Assault

Since finishing medical school nearly 40 years ago, I’ve witnessed American scientists develop hundreds of lifesaving medicines that once seemed unimaginable.

While leading the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health, I saw scientists pioneer novel ways to treat rare and serious blood disorders in children.

During my tenure as president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, researchers have cured hepatitis C, a once-fatal liver disease that killed nearly 20,000 Americans annually as recently as 2014 and with new biologic therapies, have harnessed the power of terminal cancer patients’ own immune systems to provide new hope.

These cutting-edge medicines weren’t developed overnight. They required decades of research, hundreds of millions of dollars in seed funding, and a policy environment that fosters innovation. Unfortunately, our innovation ecosystem is now under assault.

It’s important for the American public to understand how drug development works — and how the next generation will suffer if we don’t provide scientists the resources required to enable continued innovation and discovery.

Basic scientific research, which is often subsidized by the federal government through the National Institutes for Health, is absolutely critical to biomedical innovation. During my time leading the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute — which allocates about $3 billion in research grants each year — our team made great progress in better understanding how to treat and diagnose chronic diseases.

But government labs don’t turn promising insights into actual treatments. Often, it’s the small, venture-backed biomedical companies, increasingly in collaboration with the nation’s top academic medical centers, that do.

These firms translate basic research into applied science by identifying promising drug compounds and shepherding them through years of preclinical testing, human trials, and regulatory hurdles. These companies often partner with bigger firms once success is in sight.

But the process is rife with failure. Consider cancer drugs. Between 1998 and 2014, 177 potential lung cancer drugs entered clinical trials — yet only 10 were approved. During that same period, 96 potential drugs for melanoma failed, while only seven succeeded.

Because of this high failure rate, drug development is incredibly risky and expensive. Those who embrace the challenge do so because of a strong and predictable system that provides limited protections for the few successful medicines coming to market.

Investors in early-stage research firms accept these risks because they know the revenue from just one successful drug can pay for every failure and still generate a return. “Profit” has become a dirty word, but the market-based system we have is the main reason our country leads the world in drug innovation. Two-thirds of the new medicines released worldwide in the last decade came from the United States.

Now, our innovation ecosystem is being threatened. In Congress, some lawmakers want to import foreign price controls. Others want to introduce price controls in Medicare. Still others want to allow the federal government to set prices on any medicine whose origin lies in government-funded research.

Though doubtlessly well-intentioned, these policy changes could eliminate the financial incentives that allow research scientists to explore new treatments.

Policymakers and American citizens alike need to understand that government labs don’t develop drugs. Nor should we want them to. Congress sets the NIH’s budget and instructs the agency on how to spend that money. Tasking the NIH with drug discovery would politicize the research process. It’d enable a handful of government officials to decide which experimental treatments get funding — and which ones die in the lab.

I know first-hand that scientists working at federally funded labs are brilliant, but it’s neither their job nor their goal to create new medicines.

Patients are better off when the government allocates its limited resources towards basic scientific research, which often lacks an immediate application and thus would struggle to attract funding. This division of labor allows private companies to take on the risky, laborious, and hugely expensive drug development process.

If we want American firms to continue producing lifesaving treatments, we need to protect them.

Elizabeth G. Nabel, MD, is president of Brigham Health and its Brigham and Women’s Hospital. A cardiologist, she is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and former Director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Elizabeth Nabel’s husband, Dr. Gary Nabel, serves as CSO for Sanofi.

National Food Hero Tracye McQuirter, MPH, Launches 10,000 Black Vegan Women

Award-winning author and public health nutritionist Tracye McQuirter, MPH, has been changing the landscape of health and wellness over the course of the last 30 years. Now, McQuirter is bringing her expertise to the world with her new program “10,000 Black Vegan Women.”

Through a series of online 21-Day Vegan Fresh Starts throughout the year that include cooking videos, meal plans, vegan recipes, grocery shopping lists, meal prep guides, and nutrition tips, vegan expert Tracye McQuirter, MPH, will give black women the support they need to go vegan, get healthy, and feel great for life.

“The 10,000 Black Vegan Women program will help 10,000 African American women go vegan in 2020 to live longer, healthier lives,” says Tracye McQuirter. “Although we have a long history of being plant-based pioneers and activists, including Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Angela Davis and others, we also have the most to gain from the health benefits of eating plant-based foods because we experience the highest rates of preventable, diet-related diseases in the country.”

With animal agriculture being the leading cause of global warming, the 10,000 Black Vegan Women program gives women of color an opportunity to do something good for their mind, body and the environment, too.

“I want to truly change the health paradigm of black women. We are leaders in so many progresive ways, but we are in a crisis when it comes to our health. And while there are many reasons for this, we have the power to take back control of our health. It’s about our greens, not our genes! Eating affordable, nutritious, and delicious plant-based foods is one of the best ways for us to get healthy now and for the rest of our lives.” For more information, please visit

ABOUT TRACYE MCQUIRTER:Washingtonian Tracye McQuirter is a writer, speaker, public health nutritionist, and 33-year vegan who has been teaching people how and why to live a healthy vegan lifestyle for the past 30 years. She is the recipient of multiple awards for her public health nutrition and vegan advocacy and was named a national food hero changing the way America eats for the better by Vegetarian Times. She’s the author of the book Ageless Vegan, which Library Journal starred as “raising the standard of plant-based cuisine,” and the national best-seller By Any Greens Necessary, which established her as one of the most influential vegans in the country. She directed the nation’s first federally funded vegan nutrition program and was a nutrition advisor for the Black Women’s Health Imperative. Tracye recently created the first-of-its-kind, free African American Vegan Starter Guide in partnership with Farm Sanctuary and previously co-created one of the earliest vegan websites 20 years ago, which was also the first by and for African American vegans. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Essence, Bon Appetit, Ebony, VegNews, The Huffington Post, and many more. Tracye is a graduate of Sidwell Friends School, Amherst College, and New York University, where she received a master’s degree in public health nutrition.

For more information about Tracye McQuirter and/or her new program, 10,000 Black Vegan Women, please contact Mary Beth Olson | MBO MEDIA |


Lawmakers took a historic vote on Wednesday when the House of Representatives passed legislation to make lynching a federal crime.

The House passed HR 35, anti-lynching legislation introduced by Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, called the Emmett Till Antilynching Act. Fourteen-year-old Till was brutally murdered in a racist attack in Mississippi in 1955, an event that drew national attention to the atrocities and violence that African Americans have faced in the United States and became a civil rights rallying cry.

The measure passed with broad, bipartisan support in a 410-4 vote. Independent Rep. Justin Amash voted against the bill along with three Republicans: Thomas Massie, Ted Yoho, and Louie Gohmert.

Yoho told CNN that he voted against the measure because the bill is an “overreach of the federal government” and tramples on state’s rights.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the floor ahead of the vote in support of the measure, saying, “Today Congress has an opportunity to acknowledge its responsibility for its historic failure to confront and end the horror of lynching in America.”

The measure approved by the House was amended prior to the vote on final passage to sync up with anti-lynching legislation that has already passed the Senate.

The Senate bill, called the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, makes lynching a federal crime by establishing it as a new criminal civil rights violation. The legislation would amend federal civil rights law to explicitly include provisions on lynching.

It passed the Senate last year by a unanimous vote and was sponsored by the Senate’s three black members: Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.

A senior Democratic aide told CNN on Monday that the House bill would be amended to carry the language of the Senate bill, but would keep the House’s title in honor of Till.

Since the bills still have different titles and numbers, additional action will be necessary in one of the two chambers before the legislation can go to the President’s desk, and the Senate is expected to next take up the House-passed legislation.

Rush and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said at a news conference ahead of the House vote that they anticipate the Senate will pass the legislation before the end of the week.

The measure had been expected to pass the House with at least a two-thirds majority since it was considered under a process used in the lower chamber for legislation with broad, bipartisan support.

The text of the legislation outlines the violent and racist legacy of lynching in the United States and the many earlier, and unsuccessful, attempts to enact federal anti-lynching legislation into law.

“The crime of lynching succeeded slavery as the ultimate expression of racism in the United States following Reconstruction,” the bill states, adding that “at least 4,742 people, predominantly African Americans, were reported lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1968.”

The bill notes that “nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress during the first half of the 20th century,” and “between 1890 and 1952, 7 presidents petitioned Congress to end lynching.”

The legislation states, “Only by coming to terms with history can the United States effectively champion human rights abroad.”

This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

Maryland Collective 4 Alarm Artists Presents Unnatural Causes: Art Of A Critical Nature, Inspired By The 50th Anniversary Of Earth Day And Shown At Three Different Baltimore And Annapolis Venues

Maryland artist collective 4 Alarm Artists presents the multi-venue exhibition Unnatural Causes: Art of a Critical Nature, which features works and performances by more than 30 Maryland artists and artist collectives all addressing issues related to detrimental changes to climate and biodiversity.

The show, which features different exhibitions at Maryland Hall in Annapolis from Mar. 5-May 2, at Creative Alliance in Baltimore from Mar. 7-Apr. 11, and at Carroll Mansion in Baltimore from Apr. 22-May 24, was inspired by the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the creation of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Carroll Mansion exhibition will also feature special events and performances throughout April and May such as open mics, crankies, dance, readings, puppetry, fortune card readings, and more.

4 Alarm Artists is Blake Conroy, Lynne Parks, and Bridget Parlato, who work as visual artists, educators, activists, and conservationists and whose work is featured in the first installment of Unnatural Causes at Creative Alliance. 4 Alarm Artists informs that human-driven greenhouse gas emissions have caused 100 percent of the warming observed since 1950, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “With water levels, record temperatures, extinction, pollution, and carbon rates all shockingly on the rise, we don’t need a wave of action, we need a tsunami,” the collective says.

4 Alarm Artists Cofounder Lynne Parks, a 2013 Baker Prize winner for her art about bird conservation, says she hopes the exhibitions raise awareness and inspire a response. “With this show, it really is a coming together of concerned artists who hope their work carries over into action,” Park says. “Art can help explain the problems, offer solutions, and bring people together, but we need everyone to join in. We’re losing the systems that sustain life and the complexities that make life beautiful. We have to try to save them.”

Unnatural Causes is a series of exhibitions and performances that focus on humans’ impact on the planet. With three shows and more than 30 artists, Unnatural Causes spotlights the significant changes in climate and biodiversity. The exhibition is meant to bring together artists, conservationists, and the public to focus attention on climate change.

“Every individual life is precious. This is not just a matter of humankind. We all, every being on the planet, are unique and worthy of being celebrated,” says 4 Alarm Artists Cofounder Blake M. Conroy. “This is what Earth Day means to me. It is also why I am so concerned about the politicizing of climate change.”

“My mother instilled in me a reverence for nature that led to my spiritual connection with the outdoors,” says 4 Alarm Artists Cofounder Bridget Parlato. “Nature is church and library and palace and great celebrational hall all-in-one. For me, it is truly painful to see nature treated as anything less than holy. At this time, human actions are ravaging the environment and the resulting grief can be unbearable, even paralyzing. I fight internal shut-down constantly. Creating cause-related work has been the best answer to this grief.”


Unnatural Causes: Art of a Critical Nature

Maryland Hall, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, MD

Mar. 5-May 2, reception Mar. 19

Artists: Blake Conroy, Tina Hinojosa, Andrea Huppert, Janet Maher, Lynne Parks, Bridget Parlato, Hugh Pocock

Unnatural Causes: Art of a Critical Nature

Creative Alliance, Amalie Rothschild Gallery, 3134 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD

Mar. 7-April 11, reception Mar. 7, 6-8 p.m.

4 Alarm Artists: Blake Conroy, Lynne Parks, Bridget Parlato

Unnatural Causes: Art of a Critical Nature

Carroll Mansion, 800 E Lombard St., Baltimore, MD

Apr. 22-May 24, reception Apr. 22. 5-8 p.m.

Artists: Laura Amussen, Ammy Anderson, Jo Brown, Krista Caballero w/ Frank Ekeberg, Blake Conroy, Cathy Cook, Lania D’Agostino, Deborah Donelson, Laure Drogoul, Nicole Fall, Stephanie Garmey, Helen Glazer, John Davis Held, Janet Little Jeffers, Book Karnjanakit, Ashley Kidner, Jennifer McBrien, Jonna McKone, Janet Maher, Tim Nohe, Lynne Parks, Bridget Parlato, Hugh Pocock, Ursula Populoh, Valeska Populoh, Jess Rassp (performance), Michelle Rassp, William Rhodes, Glenn Ricci, Leslie Shellow, Chris Siron, Peter Stern


Ammy Anderson’s ink and watercolor pieces of animals ranging from Tasmanian tigers to prehistoric North American horses not only show beautiful forms in nature, but consider human-caused extinctions and how invasive species fill ecological niches imperfectly, upsetting established symbiotic relationships. (Carroll Mansion)

In his series Mine Lands to Marshes, Peter Stern presents his aerial images of coal mining in Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna River, and the Chesapeake Watershed, bringing these areas together to tell the story of their interconnectedness as a regional ecology. Water pollution caused by mining affects biodiversity and increases toxicity up the food chain. (Carroll Mansion)

In Deborah Donelson’s 60 drawings of babies, birds fall out of their eyes to highlight shifting baseline syndrome, when new generations lose the knowledge of the biodiversity of past generations. (Carroll Mansion)

Performance piece The Vultures: A Reincarnation blends puppetry and martial arts to illustrate the visceral and violent consuming of our decaying earth in order to begin a process of renewal. It centers on ritual performance with vulture characters fulfilling their role in completing the cycle of life by consuming our dead. (Carroll Mansion)


Blake M. Conroy is from Aberdeen, Md. He holds a BFA from Maryland Institute, College of Art, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Conroy was an artist in residence at Glo’Art Belgium in April 2018 and is represented by the MassoniArt Gallery in Chestertown, Md. Conroy is a recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award. Selected shows include–Solo shows: Hardesty Arts Center in Tulsa Okla.; Bloomsbury University, Bloomsburg, Pa.; Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio. Group shows: McNeese State University, Lake Charles, La., Masur Museum, Monroe, La. (People’s Choice Award), University of Hawaii, Hilo Art Department, Hilo, Hawaii,and The Bennington Center For the Arts, Bennington, Vt.

Bridget Parlato is a designer/artist/activist in Baltimore and sole proprietor of a freelance graphic design business, Full Circuit Studio, and Baltimore Trash Talk, an anti-trash initiative. Her cause-related work is designed to raise awareness of our impact on the earth, our water systems, the animal world and each other.

Lynne Parks is a Baltimore artist, curator, green educator, and environmentally-conscious gardener. She is also the outreach coordinator for the bird conservation and rescue organization, Lights Out Baltimore, and volunteers for Patterson Park Audubon. She is a recipient of the 2013 Mary Sawyers Baker Award and MSAC Individual Artist Award in Visual Arts: Photography, 2018.

About Maryland Hall

Founded in 1979 in the former Annapolis High School, Maryland Hall is the region’s cultural core, convening and engaging the community through arts education, visual arts, performing arts and entertainment. Through year-round classes, performances, exhibits, tours, workshops, and demonstrations people of all ages discover the transformative power of the arts. Each day, Maryland Hall nurtures inspiration, cultivates originality and fosters the imaginations of the children, families, students, and adults who come through our doors. For more information about Maryland Hall, visit

About Creative Alliance

The Creative Alliance, founded in 1994, and at its current location since 2003, plays a critical cultural role locally, regionally, and nationally. As its Mission states: “The Creative Alliance builds communities by bringing together artists and audiences from diverse backgrounds to experience spectacular arts and education programs and engage in the creative process. We provide support to area artists, promote Baltimore as a center for creative production, act as a positive force in our community, and advocate for cultural expression rooted in a sense of place.” For more information about Creative Alliance, visit

About Carroll Mansion

Constructed in 1811, Carroll Mansion was residence to Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence, and is under the stewardship of Carroll Museums, founded in 2002 to revitalize Carroll Mansion and Phoenix Shot Tower and is dedicated to creating educational and cultural programs. For more information about Carroll Museums, visit

Travis Mitchell Joins Maryland Public Television As Senior Vice President And Chief Content Officer

Travis Mitchell has joined Maryland Public Television (MPT) as senior vice president and chief content officer. In this position, Mitchell will oversee all content created, acquired, and aired on the statewide public television network.

Mitchell brings more than two decades of media experience to his new role at MPT, having served most recently as chief content officer for University of North Carolina Television (UNC-TV). During his time with the station, he provided editorial vision and garnered support for UNC-TV content on its four TV channels and in its online properties.

Earlier in his career, Mitchell served as president of Communities In Schools of Wake County, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based nonprofit that helps schools remove the barriers that put students at risk of wasting their potential. He also served as executive vice president and chief operating officer for the Atlanta-based Black Family Channel, where he oversaw a $40 million operation and a team of 75.

Mitchell earned an undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism from Morgan State University and a master’s degree in entrepreneurship and education from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in Philadelphia. He completed further executive education study at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

About MPT Launched in 1969 and headquartered in Owings Mills, MD, Maryland Public Television is a nonprofit, state-licensed public television network and member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). MPT’s six transmitters cover Maryland plus portions of contiguous states and the District of Columbia. Frequent winner of regional Emmy® awards, MPT creates local, regional, and national television shows. Beyond broadcast, MPT’s commitment to professional educators, parents, caregivers, and learners of all ages is delivered through year-round instructional events and the super-website Thinkport, which garners in excess of five million page views annually. MPT’s community engagement connects viewers with local resources on significant health, education, and public interest topics through year-round outreach events, viewer forums, program screenings, and phone bank call-in opportunities. For more information visit

IN MEMORIAM: Katherine Johnson, A Pioneering NASA Mathematician Featured In “Hidden Figures,” Dies At 101

Katherine Johnson, the legendary NASA physicist and mathematician whose work played a key role in the early successes of the U.S. space program, passed away at 101 years old on the morning of February 24 in Newport News, Va. Johnson played a pivotal role in helping the U.S. land men on the moon during the space race in the 1960s and was portrayed by actress Taraji P. Henson in the 2017 film “Hidden Figures.” The book based on the film by the same name was written by Margot Lee Shetterly.

With little more than a pencil and a slide rule Johnson calculated the exact trajectories for Apollo 11 land on the moon in 1969. and, after Neil Johnson worked in a world where errors were fatal.

The lives of three brilliant African American women were featured in the book and subsequent film. They were Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, who passed in 2008, and Mary Jackson who passed in 2005. Vaughan and Jackson were from Hampton, Va. and Johnson was from West Virginia. Johnson graduated from West Virginia State University and West Virginia University.

Johnson was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on November 8, 2019, after House Science Committee Chairwoman Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s passed legislation to honor her.

“We’re saddened by the passing of celebrated #HiddenFigures mathematician Katherine Johnson. Today, we celebrate her 101 years of life and honor her legacy of excellence that broke down racial and social barriers,” tweeted NASA after news of Johnson’s passing.

In September 1960 mathematician Katherine Johnson published NASA’s first scientific paper to name a woman as author. Johnson’s trajectory calculations were vital to the US space missions.

“There were no textbooks, so we had to write them,” Johnson said.

“It is with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Katherine Johnson, a truly brilliant mathematician and pioneer. She broke down barriers as one of the few African-American women mathematicians working at the Flight Dynamics and Control Division at NASA Langley,” wrote Congressman Bobby Scott who represents Newport News, Va.

“Her work helped put the first Americans in space and send the Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon, thereby helping the United States win the Space Race. While I knew Katherine Johnson and her family personally for many years, like so many Americans I never fully appreciated the work that she, Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Christine Darden and the many other African American women at NASA trailblazed for so many until their untold story was revealed in Hidden Figures. Mrs. Johnson was a true American hero, and we were so proud to have her call Hampton Roads home. I want to send my deepest condolences to her family and friends, and to everyone who was inspired by her remarkable life and work,” Rep. Scott added.

“Today we mourn the loss of an American hero and a pioneer for women and African Americans in STEM fields. Katherine Johnson played a pivotal role in the outcome of the space race during her 35-year career at NASA and its predecessor, NACA. Without her accomplishments and those of her fellow Hidden Figures, which went largely unrecognized until the last decade, the outcome of the Space Race may have been quite different. Her achievements and impacts on our country are great, and her loss will be felt by many. I send my heartfelt condolences to her loved ones and colleagues,” NASA said in a statement.

“We’ve lost an icon and brilliant mathematician with the passing of Katherine Johnson. A barrier breaker and inspiration for women of color everywhere, Katherine’s legendary work with NASA will forever leave a mark on our history. My heart goes out to her family and loved ones,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist for NNPA and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is also a political strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at and on twitter at @LVBurke

Black History Interwoven With Suffrage Centennial

2020 also marks sesquicentennial of 15th Amendment

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” — The 19th Amendment:

This year marks the 100th anniversary celebration of American women’s right to vote. The passage of the 19th Amendment was won after a 72-year long struggle led by a number of prominent women, including one Harriet Tubman (1822 – 1913).

Tubman, a former slave and a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad for eight years, was also an abolitionist and political activist. She became a passionate suffragette, attending local meetings and national conferences.

When asked if she believed in women’s suffrage, she said “I suffered enough to believe it.”

Ernestine (Tina) Martin Wyatt is a great-great-great-grandniece of Tubman. An artist and activist, Wyatt’s work is featured as a permanent collection in the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.

Wyatt joined other descendants of historical Blacks — Fredrick Douglass and Ida B. Wells — who were featured on the city of Pasadena’s float, “Years of Hope, Years of Courage” during the Rose Parade last month. The women’s suffrage centennial float was designed as a symbolic reminder of the responsibility to vote, and to continue the fight for equality and inclusion.

The day after the parade, Wyatt received a commendation from the office of County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, which read:

“As an innovative and ground-breaking educator, co-founder of Harriet Tubman Day and the Celebrate to Educate program in Washington D.C., you continue in her (Tubman’s) footsteps to inspire youth and educate young people about her many historical achievements during the underground railroad, civil war, emancipation and through the American suffrage movement.”

Wyatt’s great-grandmother worked alongside Tubman and also lived with her for a short period. Wyatt’s grandmother saw Tubman as just another aunt.

“We knew what family meant to her,” Wyatt said in a Focus features interview when the movie, “Harriet” debuted last November. “Her love of family was one of the things that was perpetuated. The other thing was her faith, a belief in taking yourself out of the center in order to serve the needs of other people. That is really something that has been passed down from aunt Harriet to my great-grandmother to my grandmother to my mother and now to me. And I am passing the same beliefs down to my children and my grandchildren.”

Black men gained their voting rights with the passage of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified in 1870. Wyatt understood why Tubman would join the fight to pass the 19th Amendment.

“It only takes one person to change things,” Wyatt said. “It is like a domino effect — what we do and how it affects others in a positive way.”

Michelle Duster is an award-winning author, speaker, historian and writing professor at Columbia College in Chicago. She is the great-granddaughter of prominent journalist, abolitionist and feminist Ida B. Wells (1862 – 1931). Wells was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and went on to lead an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890’s. She also co-founded the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in 1896 and was on the front lines of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

Duster has written, published and contributed to a total of nine books, two of which include the writings of her great-grandmother: “Ida in Her Own Words” and “Ida from Abroad.” She gives presentations about her work to make sure that Wells’ legacy does not fade from public memory.

“I learned at an early age that my great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells, was a force to be reckoned with,” Duster writes in one of her articles. “At the end of the 19th century, as an investigative journalism pioneer, she uncovered and documented in meticulous detail the violence of lynching.”

In 1913, Wells founded the Alpha Suffrage Club, the first African American women’s group that advocated for the right to vote. The club aimed to give a voice to Black women who had been excluded from other suffrage organizations. Although women in Chicago were granted the right to vote in 1910, Whites tried to ban Blacks from voting altogether.

As Wells stated in her autobiography: “We (women) could use our vote for the advantage of ourselves and our race.”

Kenneth B. Morris Jr., is the great-great-great-grandson of Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895) and the great-great-grandson of Booker T. Washington (1856 – 1915). His mother, Nettie Washington Douglass, is the daughter of Nettie Hancock Washington (granddaughter of Booker T. Washington) and Dr. Frederick Douglass III (great-grandson of Frederick Douglass).

Morris contributed to the afterword to “Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American.” He also wrote the forward to the 2017 centennial edition of the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave,” which the Library of Congress named one of the 88 books that shaped America.

Douglass, whose biography was published in 1845, escaped slavery as a young man and devoted his life to ending it through his abolitionist speaking engagements. He became an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln. Later, he used the platform of his newspaper, the North Star, to enlist petitioners to sign the declaration supporting women’s rights.

A believer in the equality of all, Douglass was the only African American to attend the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention, held in upstate New York, where he spoke in favor of women’s suffrage.

Morris now carries the abolitionist torch of his ancestor’s legacy with his work in the fight against modern day slavery and his co-founding of the Atlanta-based non-profit Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI), which has its mission to advance freedom through knowledge and strategic action.

He began his activism when a buddy passed along a magazine.

“The cover story was of 21st century slaves and I reacted the way I think most people do,” Morris said. “Slavery didn’t end with the work of Frederick Douglass, and I have two teenage daughters, who at the time were 12 and 9 years old. I got up and walked into my girls’ room and I found that I couldn’t look them in the eyes and not do anything.”

The FDFI teaches children about the 27 million people currently enslaved worldwide.

“As Frederick Douglass said, it’s easier to build strong children than repair broken men,” said Morris.

Mapping the Count: Census Week of Action

The Census is extremely vital to communities of color across the nation. A complete and accurate count would ensure that the appropriate funds, up to billions of dollars, are allocated to local, state, and tribal governments to improve the lives of our people. Access to quality education, healthcare, good roads, and even the number of Congressional seats our communities receive are all at stake. That’s why we all have the civic responsibility to be counted.

To ensure all are counted, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is inviting you to take part in the Census Week of Action from February 24 to February 28. Sign up here ( to participate in webinars and training during the week as we will be offering two classes per day. One session will be held for everyone, and one will be geared towards Generation Z and Millennials. The sessions will train you on our newest mapping tool. We will also be releasing the report of the findings of the tool for the last two years.

In addition to the list of events for the week, we will be hosting a Twitter Townhall on “Mapping the Count” on Monday, February 24, to bring more awareness to the Census and offer concrete ways of we can get more people of color involved. Participating in the town hall will be:

Joy Williams, President, Brooklyn NAACP

Alvina Yeh, Executive Director, APALA

DeJuana Thompson, Creator, Woke Vote

Mayra Macia, Executive Director, Latino Victory Fund

For nearly a decade Advancement Project National Office, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Demos, Faith in Action, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Congress of American Indians, National Urban League, Race Forward, and UnidosUS have functioned as a collaborative of nine leading national, racial equity anchor organizations (the Anchors) supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Together, we work to promote racial equity, advance racial healing, and ensure that all children, families, and communities have opportunities to reach their full potential.

We have been able to do this primarily through work on non-partisan civic engagement projects, including voter protection/voting rights advocacy, voter registration, and the 2020 Census. A significant part of our work has been using data and metrics to coordinate and strategize how to mobilize in the field. A Data and Analytics hub hosted by the NAACP was formed by the collaborative last year that is mapping hard to count communities. It has been built on both an Arc GIS and Caspio platform and has worked with ESR to launch the tool and give away 1,350 free licenses to organizations on the ground.

For more information on the Census Week of Action, visit and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @NAACP.

Washington Post Editorial Board: “An education plan that trades a high cost for far too little”

When the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation last year putting the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission on public education into the state budget for three years, there was little critical debate. The substance of the proposal went largely unquestioned, and any opposition was denounced as reflecting a lack of commitment to public schools and students. Now, though, lawmakers actually have to find the money to pay for Kirwan, and some may be getting cold feet. Good. It is time to focus attention on the fact that what is really bold about the commission’s course of action is not its so-called reforms but rather its big price tag.

The 10-year plan, recommended by the commission created in 2016 by the state legislature and chaired by former chancellor of the University of Maryland William E. “Brit” Kirwan, would require $4 billion a year in new spending from state and local governments. Democrats who have veto-proof majorities in Annapolis are considering an array of options — including expansion of the sales tax to include professional services, legalizing sports betting and boosting the state’s tobacco tax — to finance its share. The impact on local governments, which rely on property taxes and county-level income taxes, would vary greatly. Officials in some — such as Baltimore City and Prince George’s — said they can’t afford the costs of the current formulas. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has taken to calling the commission the “Kirwan Tax Hike Commission,” criticizing its work as “well-meaning” but “fiscally irresponsible.”

We believe, as we said last year, that the 26-member commission did a public service by puncturing the myth that Maryland schools perform at or near the top nationally when, in truth, they are mediocre — in a country that has a mediocre education record internationally. But the commission largely pulled its punches in coming up with solutions, falling back instead on the premise that the more you spend on education, the better the outcomes.

Maryland’s own experience has proved that not to be true. A previous educational panel, the Thornton Commission, resulted in historic boosts in school spending in 2002, but, despite that spending, less than 40 percent of Maryland high school graduates can read at a 10th-grade level, and the achievement gap that separates African American and Hispanic students from their white peers continues. The Kirwan Commission’s central claim that Maryland has underinvested in schools is undermined by figures showing that in 2017, the most recent year for which national data is available, Maryland spent 22 percent more on a per-pupil basis and paid its teachers 28 percent more than the national average.

There are certainly worthwhile recommendations in the commission report, but just spending more without attacking the inherent problems or insisting on real accountability is misguided. We agree, for example, that teachers should be paid more, but why not figure out smarter ways to reward the most effective ones and encourage them to work in struggling schools where they are most needed? Those pushing to fully implement Kirwan speak ominously about the “cost of doing nothing.” But Kirwan comes with a high cost while doing far too little.