Oprah & Ava: ‘Own Spotlight: Culture Connection & August 28th


Ava DuVernay: Black Women Always Lead the Way | OWN Spotlight | Oprah Winfrey Network

LOS ANGELES – Continuing conversations surrounding issues impacting Black lives, “OWN Spotlight: Culture Connection & August 28th, Ava DuVernay & Rev. Sharpton,” which originally aired Friday, August 28 at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET/PT on OWN, will stream for free on the Watch OWN app and the OWN Facebook and Youtube pages.

The special features Oprah Winfrey as she speaks separately with both acclaimed director Ava DuVernay and Rev. Al Sharpton regarding the historical context of August 28th and the significance of the upcoming election, along with a special presentation of DuVernay’s short film “August 28: A Day in the Life of a People.”

During the special, Winfrey speaks with DuVernay about the work she is doing in support of social justice, how she uses history to inform her activism, and how imperative it is for everyone to vote in the upcoming election. Winfrey later discusses with Rev. Al Sharpton the connection of the ‘Get Off Our Necks’ Commitment March which took place on the same day as the historic March on Washington 57 years ago. Rev. Sharpton shares ways that everyone can show their support in this moment, reiterating his intention for the march is not about numbers but long-term impact.

The interviews bookend DuVernay’s scripted short-film entitled “August 28: A Day in the Life of a People,” starring Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Don Cheadle, Regina King, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, André Holland, Michael Ealy and Glynn Turman.

DuVernay uses a robust combination of both documentary and narrative techniques to transport viewers through six stunning historical moments that all actually occurred on the same day – August 28th – in various years. Written, produced and directed by DuVernay, “August 28” traverses a century of black progress, protest, passion and perseverance of African American people.

The project gives historical perspective within the creative framework of one date that has had a profound effect on America including: the passing of The Slavery Abolition Act on August 28, 1833, the lynching of Emmett Till on August 28, 1955, the first radio airplay from Motown Records on August 28, 1961 with The Marvelettes “Please Mr Postman,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech during the massive March on Washington on August 28, 1963, Hurricane Katrina making its tragic landfall on August 28, 2005 and then-Senator Barack Obama’s acceptance of the Democratic nomination for the presidency on August 28, 2008.

The film was lensed by cinematographer Malik Sayeed and edited by Oscar nominee Spencer Averick. Ten-time Grammy nominee Meshell Ndegeocello composed the score. Paul Garnes produced, with co-producers Tilane Jones and Tammy Garnes.

This special is part of OWN’s overall OWN YOUR VOTE initiative, a bipartisan registration and get-out-the-vote campaign partnering with national and local grassroots and voting rights organizations to provide tools and resources that will empower Black women to vote this November. Black women powerfully influence election outcomes, and OWN YOUR VOTE supports this group of voters to show up to the polls and help friends, family, and their community to do the same. Winfrey recently shared that OWN will grant November 3rd as a company holiday to ensure all employees have the time to vote and volunteer. “I challenge other companies to do the same because this might be the most important election of our lives,” Winfrey said in her social post.

“OWN Spotlight: Culture Connection & August 28th, Ava DuVernay & Rev. Sharpton” is produced by OWN. The executive producers are Oprah Winfrey and Tara Montgomery.

Virginia High School Students Can Now Take Black History Courses

Virginia students now can take an elective course focusing on African American history, Gov. Ralph Northam said on Thursday, Aug. 28.

The new courses are available in 16 of the state’s school divisions, including in Arlington and Prince William counties.

“Black history is American history, but for too long, the story we have told was insufficient and inadequate,” Gov. Northam said in a news release. “The introduction of this groundbreaking course is a first step toward our shared goal of ensuring all Virginia students have a fuller, more accurate understanding of our history, and can draw important connections from those past events to our present day.”

The full-credit course surveys African American history from precolonial Africa through the present day. It introduces students to African American history concepts, including the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the Civil War, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and the civil rights era.

Students will also learn about African American voices, including many not traditionally highlighted, and their contributions to Virginia and America’s story.

According to the news release, the course is expected to challenge students to explore primary and secondary sources documenting the African American experience.

It includes a capstone project requiring students to conduct independent research on a question or problem of their choosing and demonstrate a deeper understanding of African American history.

“We can expect young Virginians to understand the enduring impacts of systemic racism only when they fully understand both the oppression experienced by African Americans and their significant contributions to STEM, the arts, education, law, and advocacy,” said Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni.

“As a history teacher, I know that this course is long overdue and is a first step toward telling a more inclusive story about the past and how it has shaped the present.”

In 2019, Gov. Northam signed an executive order to establish the Commission on African American History Education.

The Commission was charged with reviewing Virginia’s history standards, and the instructional practices, content, and resources to teach African American history in the Commonwealth.

The inclusion of African American history in high school classes in Virginia comes as protests continue in the aftermath of the police shootings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, and many others.

It also comes at a time when professional athletes and entertainers have stood in force behind the Black Lives Matter Movement in a push for social justice and all to understand the history of African Americans.

“The full history of Virginia is complex, contradictory, and often untold – and we must do a better job of making sure that every Virginia graduate enters adult life with an accurate and thorough understanding of our past, and the pivotal role that African Americans have played in building and perfecting our Commonwealth,” Gov. Northam stated.

“The important work of this Commission will help ensure that Virginia’s standards of learning are inclusive of African American history and allow students to engage deeply, drawing connections between historic racial inequities and their continuous influence on our communities today.”

‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman dies at 43

Actor Chadwick Boseman, who brought the movie “Black Panther” to life with his charismatic intensity and regal performance, has died.

Boseman has battled colon cancer since 2016 and died at home with his family and wife by his side, according to a statement posted on his Twitter account. He was 43.

“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you so many of the films you have come to love so much,” the statement said.

“From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.”

With his role as King T’Challa in the boundary-breaking film “Black Panther,” he became a global icon and an inspiring symbol of Black power. That role was the “honor of (Boseman’s) career,” the statement said.

He graduated from Howard University

A South Carolina native, Boseman graduated in 2000 from Howard University, a historically Black college in Washington, DC. While there, he also attended the British American Drama Academy at Oxford in 1998.

“It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of alumnus Chadwick Boseman who passed away this evening. His incredible talent will forever be immortalized through his characters and through his own personal journey from student to superhero! Rest in Power, Chadwick!” University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said in a statement.

Boseman’s breakout performance came in 2013 when he played Jackie Robinson in the film “42.” Boseman’s passing was announced the day Major League Baseball honored Jackie Robinson Day, an annual commemoration delayed by several months due to the pandemic.

“His transcendent performance in ’42’ will stand the test of time and serve as a powerful vehicle to tell Jackie’s story to audiences for generations to come,” Major League Baseball tweeted Friday about the actor.

Boseman made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in 2016 as T’Challa/Black Panther in “Captain America: Civil War. Black Panther then got his own stand-alone movie that released in 2018, which broke box office records. Marvel Studios president had previously announced the second movie of the “Black Panther” saga would debut in theaters in May 2022.

The actor starred in other films, including playing James Brown in “Get On Up” and Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall.”

Boseman returned to his alma mater in 2018 to give the commencement speech. He told the graduates about his early days acting on soap operas, saying he was fired from an unnamed production after he questioned what he felt was its stereotypical portrayal of Black characters.

“The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose,” he said at the time.

He concluded with his iconic “Wakanda Forever” salute.

‘A superhero to many’

Boseman “brought history to life” with his roles, Martin Luther King III said.

“As Black Panther, he was also a superhero to many,” he wrote on Twitter. “And despite his 4 year long battle with cancer, he kept fighting and he kept inspiring. He will be missed.”

The NAACP also paid tribute to the actor, saying Boseman showed “us how to conquer adversity with grace.”

“For showing us how to ‘Say it Loud!’ For (showing) us how to walk as a King, without losing the common touch. For showing us just how powerful we are,” their Instagram statement said. “Thank you ChadwickBoseman.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, who also attended Howard, said she was heartbroken over Boseman’s death.

“My friend and fellow Bison Chadwick Boseman was brilliant, kind, learned, and humble,” she tweeted. “He left too early but his life made a difference. Sending my sincere condolences to his family.”

Actor Mark Ruffalo, who starred aside Boseman in the Marvel movies as the Hulk, said the death adds to the growing list of tragedies in 2020.

“What a man, and what an immense talent,” Ruffalo tweeted. “Brother, you were one of the all time greats and your greatness was only beginning. Lord love ya. Rest in power, King.”

Waters Applauds Decision by Six NBA Teams to Boycott Playoff Games Following the Shooting of Jacob Blake

LOS ANGELES – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee (FSC), issued a statement today applauding the players of six NBA teams for deciding to sit out yesterday’s three playoff games following the shooting of Jacob Blake, the Kenosha Wisconsin father who was shot seven times in the back in front of his children by a Kenosha police officer.

“I commend the players of the Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trailblazers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets for expressing their outrage, frustration and disgust at the violence which continues to be perpetrated by the police upon unarmed African Americans.

“These incidents, fueled by white supremacy and racism, have been happening for generations, only to be swept under the rug. It is only through the spotlight being shone upon them by high profile public figures, the tireless work of civil rights advocates, Black elected officials and the increased presence of cell phone video that our country is finally realizing how commonplace it is for Black people to fall victim to police violence.

“I am especially proud of individuals such as former NBA athlete, now sports analyst, Marques Johnson and Los Angeles Clippers coach ‘Doc’ Rivers who have decided that ‘enough is enough’ and are willing to show America how painful this injustice has been for its Black citizens by expressing their honest emotions of anguish and frustration. I also commend the players of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, Atlanta Dream, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, Connecticut Sun and Phoenix Mercury for joining this boycott and not playing their games last night.

“The women athletes of the WNBA have long inspired us by their willingness to stand up to injustice day in and day out. I am hopeful that despite the great challenges we face, 2020 can be a watershed moment for America to finally and truly come to grips with its deeply rooted personal and institutional racism.

“Without shame, Mitch McConnell has buried the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in his legislative graveyard while Black families bury their loved ones who should still be with us. Instead of banning no-knock warrants and chokeholds that could have prevented the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many others, Republicans would rather conduct studies and request data. To them I say: the data is the blood on the street. We don’t need data to validate what we experience. We need action and we need it now.”

How Do I Get My Child Prepared for School Amid COVID-19?

In-person, online, hybrid, and small groups are among the options school systems around the globe have weighed to best decide how to safely educate students amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As decisions are being made, many parents are still uncertain about best practices when it comes to ensuring their children are prepared for what many consider to be the new education normal COVID-19 has ushered in.

Emily Levitt is Vice President of Education for Sylvan Learning, a K-12 supplemental and enrichment education company.

Emily Levitt is Vice President of Education for Sylvan Learning.

Courtesy Photo

Emily Levitt is Vice President of Education for Sylvan Learning.

“This year, I think it will be a little harder to set up the feeling of a class,” said Levitt who is also a mother of two. “Kids will have a hard time doing that virtually this year. This affects me as a mom too. I have a child going into the third grade, and another going to the fourth grade.”

She added, “We are all in this together, and we will get through it. It’s not ideal, but because we are all in it together, we can make up lost ground. There is a lot of anxiety around everything. We need grace and patience.”

Sylvan has more than 750 points of presence across the globe, 5,000 school relationships, and has been in existence for over 40 years.

“My charge is to ensure that the education quality stays high for all of our students no matter where they are,” she said. “That includes North America, Asia, and the Middle East.”

Levitt talked about some of Sylvan’s new offerings to help parents, educators, and students cope with the challenges presented by COVID-19.

“We have social distance groups, and are keeping them small with protocols in place,” said Levitt. “Our teachers can help make sure students are logged-in to classes when they need to be, and that schoolwork is getting done and being handed in. The upside is that the children get their work done and it frees up parents to do their own jobs.”

She said Sylvan is also assisting with pods, which are groups of students who learn together in homes under the tutelage of the children’s parents or a hired teacher.

“We also started offering tutors for tutor pods up to four kids,” she said. “If parents are looking for someone to take over, the teacher can do that for that pod.”

She added, “We have also been approached by large corporations who want to add tutoring to their employees as an HR benefit. They want to form an arrangement with Sylvan to offer subsidized tutoring to their employees or offer discounted rates. Folks should ask their employers if they have a lower cost arrangement with us. They can also contact us directly.”

Sylvan consists of franchised and corporate supplemental learning centers, which provide personalized instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, and other areas.

“Sylvan has seen a huge uptick in the number of calls we are getting from parents interested in our services,” said Levitt. “For young kids, learning from a screen just is not appropriate. They have a harder time grasping the concept as opposed to being in person with someone. It’s also harder to enforce class rules from a distance and easy for kids to hide in the crowd.”

Levitt recalled her own personal experience, while offering tips for parents.

“It’s harder for teachers to keep track of students virtually, than if they are in the room with you,” she said. “I got my kids set-up on Zoom. One was playing a game, and the other

was fixing a snack while the teacher was teaching. It was not the teacher’s fault. I let one of my sons have his class from his bedroom on his bed. However, I brought them each a desk for their rooms. Now, there are no video games and no television. This provides an environment which makes them feel like they have to do their work and not lounge around.”

With a virus that presents a challenging test for the coming school year, Levitt believes preparation is the key to ‘passing’ it.

“This is a good time for parents to look at their children’s learning environment and other things they do have control over,” she said. “In the spring we were not ready and did not see Coronavirus coming. Now we know what is coming. Parents can reassess and see what they can do to meet the more rigorous demands.”

She added, “Parents should have a good workspace for their children with no distractions. It can be a corner on a table in a living room. Anything a parent can do that gives their children a dedicated workspace for school. For parents of children who are behind, are have learning disabilities, that is even more important.”

Levitt is a former middle school teacher.

“Nobody wanted the pandemic to be a push, but education needed a push,” she said. “There is a silver lining here. We can learn and education can take a big jump forward. Not just K-12, but colleges and universities too. I think one of the hugest things is that everyone understands now, is that without a K-12 system, the whole economy can fall apart. Parents cazn’t go to work. If we are not bolstered the way we should be, everything falls apart. I hope everyone learns that lesson when this is done.”

She added, “I also think snow days are a thing of the past. Everyone can log in now. Good luck to everyone, be kind to each other, and we will get through this together.”

For more information visit https://www.sylvanlearning.com /.

Me Black Too

One of the iconic images of the of Spike Lee’s movie “Do The Right Thing” was a Korean storeowner located within the community posting a hand printed sign on his store window saying, “Me Black Too.”

The purpose of the signage was to prevent his store from being looted or burned by identifying with the angry Black people within his community who had become extremely agitated by injustice and racism.

Similarly, rioting occurred after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when the power keg of racial abuse and injustice exploded and cities throughout America where set on fire.

Time and time again, there have been precipitating incidents against African Americans that have ignited the fuse on a time bomb burning in communities right below the surface.

Sparked by blatant police violence, or some atrocity against the personhood of an African American, or some racist action is all that is needed for people within communities to explode.

The names of people who because of police brutality caused the fuse of resistance to be lit due to abuse have in many cases resulted in people responding by burning and looting. We can no longer accept signage on stores we must demand dollars to buy stores.

In the case mentioned above, by posting the “Me Black Too” sign that Asian American’s store was spared.

Is this the secret to avoiding destruction by identifying with the plight of African Americans and posting some version of “Me Black Too” signage?

In many ways that’s what happening all over America, institutions and individuals you would never imagine are posting their version of “Me Black Too” and hoisting #BlackLivesMatter signs and writing statements expressing they are empathic with the movement and how they now seek to display their “Me Black Too” sign.

Can you imagine no more Aunt Jemima, gone is Uncle Ben, so long to Mrs. Butterworth and good-bye to the imagery on Cream of Wheat; every corporation and organization is doing a self analysis and quickly displaying their “Me Black Too” sign.

Why? Is it possible they understand what we don’t fully recognize, the power of the consumer dollar of the African American community?

According to a 2019 study by University of Georgia’s Multicultural Economy Report, “African American buying power has seen impressive gains since the end of the last economic downturn, jumping from $961 Billion in 2010 to an estimated $1.3 trillion in 2018. Since 2000, the African American market has seen a 114 percent increase in buying power.”

Is that the reason why companies and advertisers are displaying their “Me Black Too” signage? They don’t want their economic businesses destroyed or threatened.

Some economic researcher will do an analysis on lost revenue by racial breakdown and we will discover factually what we know intuitively, African American consumer spending greatly impacts the bottom line of most companies in America. Without African American consumer spending most businesses would not be profitable. Sucking the dollars out of the African American community creates wealth for other communities!

Check out NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s statement, though highly criticized as hypocritical, “We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter. I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much- needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no National Football League. And the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players coaches, fans and staff.”

That’s the biggest “Me Black Too” sign I’ve ever seen! For all of the hades Colin Rand Kaepernick endured and the minimization of the Black Out by the African American Community of football games, now the NFL aligns itself with #BlackLivesMatter.

Maybe the NFL understands something we don’t fully understand, if the Black Players and the Black Community joined together and took a stand, there would be no NFL: television viewership gone, advertisers gone, and all the profits the owners have enjoyed would be gone too.

“The National Football League (NFL) achieved a B for racial hiring practices and a C+ for gender hiring practices in the 2019 NFL Racial and Gender Report Card, released by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida (UCF). This gave the NFL a combined B-grade. Their overall score of 79.3 percent is the lowest the League has recorded in the last 15 years. The B for racial hiring practices broke a streak of nine consecutive years of earning an A- or higher.” Maybe the ‘Me Black Too” sign is being posted by the Washington Football team, who has hired Jason Wright as the first Black President in NFL history. When you add Doug Williams, Senior Vice President of Player Development, overnight the Washington Football teams has put on display, #BlackLivesMatter” and “BlackBrainsMatter.

For “Me Black Too” and #BlackLivesMatter to have a lasting impact, it has to be more than a symbol or a slogan to stem the destruction of a particular enterprise. It must mean we as a community, society and culture realize the structural impediments to equal access to capital and ownership must be dismantled. Incremental progress has had too many starts and stops; we are in the two-minute drill to get the ball across the finish line of economic equality.

Dr. Al Hathaway serves as the Senior Pastor of Union Baptist Church located at 1219 Druid Hill Avenue in Baltimore City.

Governor Hogan urges local boards to contact and train judges for upcoming election

Annapolis— In recent weeks, the Hogan administration’s aggressive recruiting efforts have already helped drive more than 11,000 Marylanders to sign up to be election judges. Amid increasing reports that interested judges are not being contacted or are being turned away, Governor Larry Hogan wrote to local election officials on August 26, 2020, to urge them to move quickly to secure and train judges for the upcoming election

“As of today, based mainly on our administration’s aggressive recruiting efforts, more than 11,000 Marylanders have expressed interest in serving as election judges for the upcoming general election,” writes Governor Hogan. “However, there are increasing reports that local boards of election have failed to contact, or even turned away, interested election judges. This is unacceptable, and hurts our ability to safely conduct the November election.”

In his letter, the governor details the steps that he has directed the administration to take to recruit judges, which “have already put the state on track to exceed the number of judges needed to staff the polls.”

Multiple notices encouraging approxi- mately 65,000 state employees to sign up and serve as election judges, doubling the incentive of previous elections by offering 16 hours of administrative leave for each day of service.

“It is absolutely critical to ensure that the November election is conducted safely and effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic,” writes the governor. “You must stress to local boards the importance of responding to and training election judges immediately. There is no time to waste.”

In keeping with CDC guidelines that call for giving voters a wide variety of options, the Hogan administration continues to strongly encourage voting by mail, early voting and voting on election day at off-peak times as safe and efficient options.

Visit the State Board of Elections website for more information on becoming an election judge: elections.maryland.gov

Finding The Heart Healthy ‘Sweet Spots’ As You Age

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for all people; and three out of every four men and women age 60+ have at least one major disease that is related to heart health— a history of smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. But the good news is that in most cases, heart disease can be prevented. While you can’t stop aging, if you have any of these risk factors it’s never too late to boost your heart health by focusing on what we like to call the “sweet spots.”

Cigarette Smoking: Smoking makes your heart work harder, raises blood pressure, and increases your risk of dying from heart disease, heart failure, or a heart attack. Smoking cigarettes can shave 10 years off your life, but your risk of dying or having a heart attack drops by 50 percent after quitting for one year, and drops more as time goes on if you do not start smoking again.

Sweet Spot: Quitting smoking (without switching to vaping) is the best way to reduce the risks that come with smoking. There are many options to help people quit smoking, including hypnotherapy, acupuncture, behavioral counseling, and a prescription nicotine inhalation system that gradually reduces the urge to smoke.

Diabetes (Type 2): High levels of blood sugar from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. To lower the sugar level in your blood, most people’s diabetes responds well to lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and losing weight.

Sweet Spot: I ask my patients in their 60s or 70s how much they weighed when they were in good shape, in their 20s or 30s. That helps us to develop diet and exercise goals to either stop the development of full-fledged diabetes if they are in the pre-diabetes stage, and may even reverse early-stage diabetes. Losing just 5-10 percent of body weight can often reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is quite common, often has no symptoms, yet can lead to stroke and sometimes death. The ideal blood

pressure is less than 120/80, which is easy to monitor at home with a blood pressure cuff that can be purchased at a drug store. The goal is to gradually lower blood pressure, since a drastic or quick reduction may cause dizziness, weakness or fainting.

Sweet Spot: Too much salt in the diet is one common cause of high blood pressure. Limiting salt to no more than half a teaspoon per day can help lower the pressure, as can the use of medication that is gradually adjusted over weeks to months.

High LDL Cholesterol: High LDL (bad cholesterol) can damage your arteries over time and increase the risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Cholesterol levels tend to climb as we age, but individuals in their 70s and even 80s benefit from low LDL.

Sweet Spot: High fiber foods such as oats and beans can lower LDL, as can safe and effective cholesterol-lowering medications, which have been proven to reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke.

These heart healthy “sweet” spots are just a starting point. Heart disease prevention and treatment as you age is really a partnership between you and your doctor, with regular checkups to see how you’re doing, changes to medications or exercise routine as needed, and coaching on how to take better control of risk factors.

Michael Miller, MD, is a Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology & Public Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Director, Center for Preventive Cardiology, University of Maryland Medical Center. He is author of the book, “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.” Learn more at http://umm.edu/heart

It’s Time To Rein In The Administrative State

Unelected officials, while helpful and necessary, shouldn’t be given authority to govern. Yet, for a long time, our nation has been progressively handing over power to the administrative state and, during the pandemic, it seems we’ve given it over completely. Overlapping mandates from the federal government and state, county and city governments have left citizens with little certainty and, in our collective panic, we’ve relented control over our lives. But in our efforts to let the experts make the right calls for us, we’ve hurt ourselves.

The recent dustup over school reopening between Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and a local health officer is the perfect example.

On August 1, 2020 the (unelected) County Health Officer for Montgomery County, Dr. Travis Gayles, announced that all non-public schools in the county were to remain closed for in-person instruction through October 1, 2020, saying that “the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers,” and that it is “necessary to protect the health and safety of Montgomery County residents.” That same day, Governor Larry Hogan responded via Twitter that the schools “should be empowered to do what’s best for their community.” Days later, Gov. Hogan issued an order countermanding Dr. Gayles’ statement, stressing that “private and parochial schools deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions based on public health guidelines.”

He added that, “the blanket closure mandate imposed by Montgomery County was overly broad and inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer.”

In response, and citing particular sections of the Maryland state code to back up his powers, Dr. Gayles reissued his original order, keeping schools closed. It was only on the seventh that Montgomery County backed down after new policies from the state department of health were released. And even now, the reopening issue is caught up in litigation.

This incident isn’t really about education policy or school reopening. It’s not even about the coronavirus. Ultimately, it’s about the administrative state taking another step forward in its encroachment on the sphere of elected officials. It’s about the government an entity that never lets a good crisis go to waste taking advantage of the pandemic to expand already over broad powers.

During a global pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, a level of caution and concern over schools reopening is of course warranted. But we should be careful not to sacrifice our democracy in the name of safety. This isn’t ancient Rome, and we don’t let single people take absolute power, even in a crisis. Our elected officials are supposed to be just that elected.

The administrative state the collection of bureaucrats and agents, elected by no one, operating under nebulously defined mandates that are twisted and manipulated to grant them more power naturally expands, especially in this hyper polarized age. Our elected officials, hesitant to make decisions that will make them unpopular to their constituents, often hand off the decisions to bureaucrats, who regulate, rule make, and basically govern in their stead. This is true on a grand scale in federal agencies and the executive branch, but it’s also true on the smaller scale for school boards and county governments.

The result of this abandonment of authority is an inflexible government, unresponsive to the interests of its constituents an entrenched apparatus of administrators and managers, writing regulations and enacting decrees at a whim. Doctor Gayle is probably not scheming to take more power for himself. I’ve no doubt he has nothing but the best interests of everyone in Montgomery County in mind. Surely, he is just doing his job. But the fact remains: The one who makes these decisions in Montgomery County (who gets to decide how citizens act, how we can associate with each other) is unelected and therefore unaccountable. He is ultimately just a bureaucrat.

This isn’t staking out a position on school reopening. It isn’t even against the existence of the county health officer. We should have experts involved in decision making processes, but as advisors to elected officials not as the decision makers themselves.

Sam Rutzick is a contributor to Young Voices and a graduate of Columbia University.

Renowned educator Dr. Anne O. Emery dies at 93

A student at Walbrook in the 1970s, Wardell Woodrow Wilson, Jr. recalled the school’s principal Dr. Anne O. Emery seeing him without wearing his proper choir attire.

“As a choir member, we were supposed to have on red blazers,” recalled Wilson. “She asked me why I didn’t have on my blazer. I explained I was working full-time because I wanted to buy a car. She sold me my first car – a blue 1963 Dynamic ‘88 Oldsmobile, dirt cheap. Her students were everything to her, and she would do anything for her students.”

Dr. Emery was a graduate of Tuskegee University (formerly Institute). Wilson, who is also an alumnus, credited Dr. Emery with “steering” him to the school.

“One of the greatest things she created was the Tuskegee Club,” said Wilson. “The bus was filled with students and went to Tuskegee Institute. She was so nurturing. She was a great leader and a soldier on the battlefield. I called her Mama Emery. That is a title higher than Dr. Emery.”

Dr. Anne O. Emery May 15, 1927- August 19, 2020

File Photo

Dr. Anne O. Emery May 15, 1927- August 19, 2020

Dr. Emery, who founded Heritage United Church of Christ with her late husband, Vallen L. Emery Sr., died Wednesday, August 19, 2020. The Ashburton resident was 93. At Baltimore Times press time, funeral arrangements for Dr. Emery were still being arranged.

Rita Harris-Bowers is a lifelong member of Heritage United Church of Christ, located on Liberty Heights Avenue.

“My parents came soon after Dr. Emery and her husband started the church,” said Harris-Bowers. “She and her husband tried to join a church and were denied. That’s what got them going to start Heritage. Thirty years later, the church wrote an apology for rejecting them. Dr. Emery had that letter posted in her house. She was a powerhouse. No matter where she went, people knew who she was.”

Harris-Bowers reflected on Dr.Emery’s quest to ensure students went to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).

“She started so many organizations at Heritage, including a college tour,” said Harris-Bowers. “We rode for a week on the bus, and would hit all the HBCUs along the way. She knew all the college presidents. Once they were on that college tour, a lot of those kids got full scholarships. It brought tears to my eyes. She wanted every person that crossed her path to get a higher education.” She added, “She was well into her 80s still riding that bus. There is not one young person that would not have something powerful to say about Anne Emery and her support in their journey of academia and beyond.”

Lynda M. Brown said she was a mentee of Dr. Emery. “I first met Dr. Anne as a child in the early 1960’s in the basement of the Heritage United Church of Christ, where the Baltimore Chapter Jack and Jill of America met to participate in positive cultural experiences,” said Brown. “Throughout my life, Dr. Anne was a mentor and adviser. I admired her commitment to community organizations and her dedication to the education of all young people she encountered. Dr. Anne was always crisp, well-groomed, stylish, smart, and full of integrity.”

Dr. Emery received a bachelor’s degree at Tuskegee University and went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Morgan State University (formerly Morgan State College). She earned a doctorate in education from Temple University.

A native of Thomasville, AL, her illustrious career in education included serving as vice principal of Lemmel Junior High School. She served as principal of Walbrook High School from 1971 until 1980.

Tanya Diggs, a 1977 graduate of Walbrook, recalled Dr. Emery’s loving, but stern leadership. “Dr. Emery did not play,” recalled Diggs with a laugh. “She was very strict. She called me in her office if I was late. She would also call my mother and let her know. I got a beating when I got home. Dr. Emery kept me in trouble and out of trouble at the same time.”

She added, “Dr. Emery was hard on me. She said I would learn, and I did. She loved us all, and cared about us as if we were her own children.”

Dr. E. Lee Lassiter, an alumnus of Tuskegee and a retired newspaper columnist and educator, also recalled Dr. Emery’s leadership at Walbrook. His wife, the late Louise Lassiter, was an administrator at the school.

“My most memorable memory is how Dr. Emery did and viewed things as principal at Walbrook,” said Dr. Lassiter. “It was another school in the city system, but in my view, she operated it like a prep school. I recall the large room where she had the names of her 3,000 students on that board. She tracked each of them individually. She pointed their names out to me, and said, ‘this one needs this, and this one needs that.’ She tracked them, and through her own individual determination, she made sure they got it.”

He added, “That’s how Walbrook got so many Merit Scholars. She also scoured the city looking for the kind of teacher she wanted, and did what she had to do to get them on the Walbrook faculty.”

Dr. Lassiter said he and Dr. Emery worked together in the founding of the Baltimore Tuskegee Alumni Association. “The Alumni Association’s annual breakfast, which will be 40 years old, was her brainchild. I am awed by her impact. She didn’t start things that were temporary or fly by night. She started things that lived beyond her. She inculcated into others that they carry out things at a level of excellence she would have demanded if she were here.”

Dr. Emery was chartering president of the Baltimore Chapter of 100 Black Women and a member of the Baltimore City Commission for Women.

“I worked with Dr. Emery in the Baltimore Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women,” said Dr. Thelma T. Daly. “We have a very strong chapter because of her strategic planning and very focused vision for the chapter. Dr. Emery did not vacillate. She was no-nonsense and she wanted everything just right. If people took a role, she expected them to execute their role with excellence.”

She added, “Dr. Emery was always accommodating. She enjoyed having meetings at her home, and we enjoyed going there. She would pull out the best china.”

Dr. Emery’s storied career also includes being appointed to the Maryland Higher Education Commission by former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich. She also chaired the board of directors of Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy, a school she is credited with helping to start. “Dr. Emery was an educator from the heart,” said Rose Hamm, former principal of Frederick Douglass High School. “All she wanted was for her children to make it and be productive. She had high standards. You could feel her coming down the hallway. She will be missed.”

Dr. Emery’s is survived by one son Dr. Vallen L. Emery Jr., six grandchildren, and a host of other relatives and friends.