IN MEMORIAM: Legendary Civil Rights Icon C.T. Vivian Dies at 95

The Rev. C.T. Vivian, the legendary civil rights activist who marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has died.

Rev. Vivian was 95.

Vivian’s daughter, Denise Morse, confirmed her father’s death and told Atlanta’s NBC affiliate WXIA that he was “one of the most wonderful men who ever walked the earth.”

Vivian reportedly suffered a stroke earlier this year, but his family said he died of natural causes.

“He has always been one of the people who had the most insight, wisdom, integrity, and dedication,” said former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, a contemporary of Vivian who also worked alongside King.

“The Reverend Dr. C.T. Vivian was one of my strongest mentors in the Civil Rights Movement,” National Newspaper Publishers Association President Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., stated.

“Rev. Vivian, like Martin Luther King, Jr, and Joseph Lowery was a visionary theologian, genius, and a leading force in the tactical and strategic planning of effective nonviolent civil disobedience demonstrations. C.T. has passed the eternal baton to a new generation of civil rights agitators and organizers. ”

In a statement emailed to BlackPressUSA, the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks expressed their condolences.

“The Atlanta Hawks organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Civil Rights Movement leader, minister, and author, Dr. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian. The City of Atlanta and the entire world has lost a distinguished icon whose leadership pushed the United States to greater justice and racial equality for African Americans,” team officials wrote in the email.

“To inspire the next generation, Vivian founded the C.T. Vivian Leadership Institute in Atlanta, with the intent to create a model of leadership culture in the city that would be dedicated to the development and sustainability of our communities.”

They continued:

“Vivian also started Basic Diversity, one of the nation’s first diversity consulting firms, now led by his son, Al, who has been a great partner to our organization. We are grateful for Dr. Vivian’s many years of devotion to Atlanta and thankful that we had the opportunity to honor and share his legacy with our fans. The entire Hawks organization extends its most sincere condolences to the grieving family.”

Rev. Vivan was active in sit-in protests in Peoria, Illinois, in the 1940s, and met King during the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott — a demonstration spurred by Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white rider. The 13-month mass protest drew international attention.

Rev. Vivian went on to become an active early member of the group that eventually became the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, according to his biography.

Like King, Vivian was committed to the belief that nonviolent protests could carry the day.

“Some thoughts on the Reverend C.T. Vivian, a pioneer who pulled America closer to our founding ideals and a friend I will miss greatly,” Former President Barack Obama wrote in a statement. “We’ve lost a founder of modern America, a pioneer who shrunk the gap between reality and our constitutional ideals of equality and freedom.”

Rev. Vivian was born in Boonville, Missouri, on July 30, 1924. He and his late wife, Octavia Geans Vivian, had six children.

With the help of his church, he enrolled in American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville in 1955.

That same year he and other ministers founded the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference, an affiliate of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, according to the National Visionary Leadership Project. The group helped organize the city’s first sit-ins and civil rights march.

By 1965 Rev. Vivian had become the director of national affiliates for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference when he led a group of people to register to vote in Selma, Alabama.

CNN memorialized Rev. Vivian, noting that, as the county Sheriff Jim Clark blocked the group, Vivian said in a fiery tone, “We will register to vote because as citizens of the United States we have the right to do it.”

Clark responded by beating Vivian until blood dripped off his chin in front of rolling cameras. The images helped galvanize more comprehensive support for change.

Vivian also created a college readiness program to help “take care of the kids that were kicked out of school simply because they protested racism.”

“I admired him from and before I became a senator and got to know him as a source of wisdom, advice, and strength on my first presidential campaign,” Obama stated.

“I’m only here to thank C.T. Vivian and all the heroes of the Civil Rights generation. Because of them, the idea of just, fair, inclusive, and generous America came closer into focus. The trails they blazed gave today’s generation of activists and marchers a road map to tag in and finish the journey.”

After virtual ceremony, P-TECH grad looking forward to college in the fall

Virtual graduations have been all the rage— and the only option— during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, and it was no different at P-TECH Carver in Baltimore.

“The virtual graduation the district hosted was okay, but nothing compares to in-person graduation,” said Jai’Marri Moulden, who graduated with both his diploma and an associate’s degree in cybersecurity in just four years. “I was expecting to walk across the stage having the feeling of completion, but now I have to turn something that’s abnormal into something positive. I’m not the first of my siblings to graduate high school, but I can definitely say I was the first in my family to graduate virtually.”

Moulden plans to attend McDaniel College in the fall— virtually or in the brick and mortar building— to study computer science.

“My expectations in going to McDaniel College are to, of course, have in-person classes and just to have things revert to some sense of normalcy so that I can enjoy my college experience,” the new graduate stated.

He said he is grateful for the experience at P-TECH, which is a unique program where students have the opportunity to earn both a high school diploma and no-cost associate degree in fast-growing STEM fields.

P-TECH Baltimore in Carver Vocational-Technical High School serves 138 students who complete the blended high school and community college coursework in four to six years.

Moulden counted among 29 students to graduate this year— 12 of whom received an associate’s degree and a high school diploma simultaneously.

Moulden also received the honor of speaking at IBM’s virtual graduation celebration for all P-TECH graduates on June 24, 2020.

He noted the challenges of virtual school during the pandemic.

“I’ve always been a person who’s had to overcome many adversities, so overcoming this pandemic and still graduate

wasn’t new to me,” Moulden said. “Of course, it was difficult, but I believed in myself and used my circumstances as motivation instead of being complacent. My biggest challenge may have been my time management because I had so much, yet so little, time on my hands. It was very easy to fall behind, so I had to make sure I was where I needed to be.”

He called his field of choice— cybersecurity— interesting and exciting.

“Being able to stop cybercrimes with cybersecurity excites me. I’m very

excited about the future, and I just know that I’m going to be very successful, and I want to have my own business and give back to my community,” Moulden said.

The graduate also offered thoughts on future P-TECH students.

“I want the future P-TECH grads to know that life isn’t easy, and you shouldn’t expect it to be,” Moulden said. “Know that you are in control of your own actions and stay hungry for success. Never forget where you come from so that you can help your community and bring success to the world.”

Former Baltimore Raven helping students and teachers with online STEM lessons

When John Urschel announced two years ago that he was retiring from the Baltimore Ravens to pursue a Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), it caught many by surprise. Urschel was just 26 and hadn’t yet carved out the reputation linebackers in the league usually do: the pursuit of tackling quarterbacks. Instead, he

pursued science.

Now, Urschel is helping to provide free lessons in STEM via YouTube as part of the recently announced National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). The initiative is a set of free video lessons in math, science and English to help educators as they continue to adjust to online teaching.

“While teachers and students continue to adjust to online learning, we knew we could help by providing high-quality, ready-to-use lessons,” NMSI CEO Bernard Harris said in a statement.

Harris noted that NMSI’s mission is to increase access and achievement in rigorous STEM education for all students.

“I’m grateful to our outstanding trainers and to John Urschel for helping us do this small part for our country’s education system,” Harris stated.

Urschel said he provided a video for high school students because he wants to inspire more students to understand and appreciate math.

“Math is foundational to everything in our lives, and I’m happy to do what I can to show young people that they can be successful in it,” said Urschel, who has also authored the book, “Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football.”

“I’m also happy to provide help to teachers and to families struggling to deliver online education. It’s a challenging time, but we’ll get through it together,” he said.

Urschel is in his fifth year as a doctoral student at MIT. He was a standout offensive lineman at Penn State University and earned the William V. Campbell Trophy for academic and athletic success and community service. The Ravens drafted Urschel in 2014 and he retired in 2017 to focus on his doctoral work.

In addition to Urschel, the NMSI’s video lessons come from teachers across the country each of whom has a record of successfully preparing students for college. Those and hundreds of other teachers help the NMSI deliver two of the non-profit’s primary programs.

The Laying the Foundation program helps grades three to 12 teachers prepare students for rigorous high school courses, such as those under the College Board’s Advanced Placement program, officials noted in the release.

The flagship College Readiness Program supports AP teachers and students and helps school systems reform how they manage access to advanced courses.

In addition to LTF and CRP, the NMSI supports students of military members through its Military Families Mission.

It also increases access to computer science education in grades K-12 and helps prepare preservice STEM teachers through a partnership with the UTeach Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.

“The heart of our efforts is dedicated to school districts and systems, teachers and students who are supported by our programs,” Harris said. “At the same time, we felt called to help more teachers, students and families, and we’re happy to provide these free lessons.”

Biracial educator pens anti-racism book

A new book hitting shelves this month is designed to help guide children, teens and adults in their discussion about racism. Tiffany Jewell has penned, “This Book is Anti-Racist,” in which she notes that some have given the impression that individuals are wrong and even stirring trouble when they discuss racism.

“Racism is a problem, a very serious problem, and it needs to be talked about because it isn’t going away if we do nothing,” said Jewell, who describes herself as a “biracial writer, parent and Montessori educator who has been doing the work of dismantling white supremacy for 12 years.”

The co-founder of #AntiRacistBookClub, Jewell, says the book’s importance is underscored by the demonstrations and protests that are taking place globally in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis.

She ys while the philosophy of anti-racism has been growing in awareness in the last few years, “This Book is Anti-Racist,” is the first about anti-racism for teenagers, and aims to empower young people to disrupt racist systems that previous generations have put in place.

“Anti-racism has helped me to have a clearer understanding of the world around me, how we got here, and it has helped me to shape a clear vision of what an anti-racist, just society could and will be like,” Jewell said. “These questions do not only arise when injustice is being discussed in the news; bias and racism are not only new today. They are foundational in this country. They are issues of our past, our present, and our tomorrow.” Jewell added that she wrote the book for everyone.

“This is the book I wish I had when I was nine years old, sitting in a classroom with a racist teacher. I wrote this for all my former students who always want to know more and want to know that, even though they’re young, they do have the agency to make impactful change,” she said. “And, this is the book I want my children to read. I wrote this book for parents and families for educators and administrators. I wrote it for all the students and children who live in our racialized society— which is everywhere.” Jewell insists— “this book is for our ancestors. It’s for our futures. It’s for all the young black, indigenous and people of color, like Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Tamir Rice, who [were] murdered by the hands of those we are supposed to go to for help. Our young ancestors should not be simply memorialized in our hashtags— they deserve more than that.”

Jewell says many white adults are just now coming to terms that racism harms everyone. She noted that they’re dealing with the fact that, to undo a system that strips us of our humanity, they’ll have to relearn who they can be and redistribute

resources, privilege and wealth children of color may live in a more equitable and just world.

“Because the adults are scared and uncomfortable, it is immediately assumed that the children will be too— and they cannot handle the truth,” Jewell said. “They can. Talking with children about race, their identities, and sharing truths with them is very developmentally appropriate. Keeping children innocent reinforces white supremacy culture. Children [of color] are not afforded the same innocence white children are allowed to have.

“Not speaking the truth reinforces racism. It allows us to believe it’s normal. If we don’t talk with our children about injustice and systemic oppression, they’ll still have their questions and form their answers, which can be inaccurate and confusing.”

To purchase “This Book is Anti-Racist,” visit: www.amazon.com.

Mayor, Parks Director Announce Summer Fun Program for Youth

BMORE Summer Fun, a free, outdoor summer camp alternative for Baltimore youth ages five to 12, will launch on Monday, July 6.

The six-week outdoor program will operate from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., rain or shine, according to a joint announcement by Mayor Jack Young and Reginald Moore, the executive director of the Baltimore City Recreation and Parks’ (BCRP).

“Providing our children summer activities is a critical need, and I want to thank Director Moore and his team for putting this program together,” Mayor Young stated in a news release.

“BMORE Summer Fun allows our youth to have access to engaging summer programming, and I am excited to see this program launch.”

Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, both Mayor Young and Parks Director Moore said the BMORE Summer Fun experience will rely on Baltimore City outdoor spaces to allow social distancing while participants engage in summer sports and games, stem activities, crafts, nature play and more.

The city and BCRP have designated the following BCRP greenspaces that will serve as BMORE Summer Fun locations:

North Harford Rec Center Samuel FB Morse Rec Center Rita Church Community Ctr Dewees Rec Center Edgewood/Lyndhurst Rec Ctr Farring Baybrook Rec Center Harlem Park Rec Center Herring Run Rec Center CC Jackson Rec Center Fred B. Leidig Rec Center Joseph Lee Rec Center Lakeland Rec Center Locust Point Rec Center Bocek Rec Center Roosevelt Rec Center Virginia S. Baker/Patterson Park Rec Center Luckman Park Vollmer Center Greenmount Rec Center Carrie Murray Nature Center

Additionally, 42 BCRP recreation center locations will continue to operate as meal sites throughout Summer 2020.

Each location is equipped with nearby indoor areas for inclement weather/Code Red Days, restrooms and supply storage, officials stated.

The outdoor format includes health and safety precautions in response to the latest COVID-19 guidance.

Program participants will enjoy activities in small groups–one counselor assigned to every nine participants. Group assignments will remain the same for the duration of the program.

Both staff and participants are required to wear masks and routine temperature checks will be taken upon arrival.

To ensure staff and participant safety, BMORE Summer Fun will not offer trips or off-site activities, according to a news release.

“Summer camp is an essential part of our agency and parents citywide rely on us year over year,” Moore said. “Although our summer offerings will look a little different this camp season, we promise the same fun, with safety at the forefront.”

The outdoor format includes health and safety precautions in response to the latest COVID-19 guidance.

Program participants will enjoy activities in small groups – one counselor assigned to every nine participants. Group assignments will remain the same for the duration of the program.

“Both staff and participants are required to wear masks and routine temperature checks will be taken upon arrival. To ensure staff and participant safety, BMORE Summer Fun will not offer trips or off-site activities,” Moore added.

Current Camp Baltimore registrants will have first opportunity to confirm their participation. The general public is encouraged to stay tuned to @recnparks on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for an announcement as additional spots become available.

For more information about BMORE Summer Fun, call 410-396-7900 or visit https://bcrp.baltimorecity.gov/virtual-rec.

Brandon Scott Wins Democratic Mayoral Primary

As he ran for the mayor’s office, City Council President Brandon Scott often declared that, “We can make Baltimore better.”

The 36-year-old is closer to getting that chance.

Scott was declared the winner of the city’s Democratic primary race for mayor.

“Our campaign was about proving to the world that a young black man who grew up in a forgotten Baltimore here in Park Heights could survive everything that you have to live through in Baltimore – the gun violence, underfunded schools, living in neighborhoods with vacant homes, living in areas where you know that you would not be recognized even as human by your own city government – that somebody could survive all of that to be the leader of this city, this great city,” Scott stated.

In his role on the Baltimore City Council, Scott has helped lead the fight for a livable minimum wage, reform the Baltimore City Police department, and launch groundbreaking initiatives to invest in and improve schools and recreational centers.

Selected unanimously in 2019 to serve as president, Scott first earned election to council in 2011 at the age of 27.

In 2018, he was awarded the Public Service Award from the Young Elected Officials Network. Scott is also a subject in “Charm City,” a documentary about individuals working to reduce gun violence in Baltimore.

“I would like to congratulate President Scott on becoming the 52nd mayor of the great city of Baltimore,” Jack Young, the current mayor, stated during a meeting after the primary.

“I am looking forward to the transition to get your feet on the ground early. I encourage you to surround yourself with good, knowledgeable people. It’s about making sure this city will continue to move forward,” Young said, before adding a caution: “Watch out for the snakes, there’s plenty of them.”

Scott had to overcome a challenge by former Mayor Sheila Dixon, whom polls had ahead just days before the primary.

“I want to say thank you for running a clean race about the future of Baltimore City,” Scott told Dixon after his victory. “Thank you for showing people that Baltimore does believe in second chances … thank you for your service.”

Shannon Wright won the Republican primary, but because Democrats outnumber the GOP by 10-1 in the city, the consensus is Scott will easily prevail in November’s general election.

“A new way forward is about doing what’s best for Baltimore even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it means we have to do with less, even when it means we have to put aside our personal feelings, visions and ways that we see the world to do the greater good,” Scott said.

Exercise and safety is message from Coach Mack Allison at Time2Grind Gym

The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced many to stay at home in Baltimore and all over the United States.

For athletes, stay-at-home means gyms and other training facilities are mostly off-limits.

However, staying at home doesn’t mean physical exercise and training has to stop altogether, according to Mack Allison III, who runs the Time2Grind Gym, a haven and sanctuary for many area youths.

Coach Mack, as he is famously known, hasn’t stopped trying to motivate his students.

“I’ve been training all kinds of athletes for more than 30 years, and this is the first time in my life that I’ve experienced a situation like [the coronavirus pandemic],” Allison said. “This virus has changed a lot of people’s lives.”

Still, Allison works out each evening after the work and he regularly calls and encourages many of his students to do the same.

“Our athletes have to become more self-motivated and disciplined,” Allison said. “I tell them to train in their basement, bedroom, backyard or any place that you have in your house.”

Allison also does what he calls drive-bys.

“I get in my car and tell them to put a mask on and come out and run up and down the block for exercise and a workout,” Allison said.

The longtime coach, who has helped to develop champions from his gym, added that health and safety is the recurring theme.

“I tell them all of the time that boxing was here before we were born, and it will be here long after we’re no longer here,” Allison said. “So, I keep telling them to wear a face mask and gloves, and have hand sanitizer if they’re going to go anywhere.”

Allison also has a unique exercise to stay active during the pandemic.

“It’s called ‘5020.’ You can use jumping jacks or high knees push-ups,” said Allison. “You do it 50 times with 20 regular push-ups or knee push-ups. You want to be able to do eight sets of this without stopping, but you can start with four sets.”

Allison has kept his students engaged and encouraged.

“Whatever your coach has taught you— practice it. I had my students laughing, when I showed them a video of me using toilet paper to help me with my push-ups and curling exercises,”

Allison said. “I think it’s so important for the coaches to stay connected with their athletes by texting them, calling them, using Zoom. We have to stay away until the virus goes away. The mayor hasn’t opened things back up yet, and I agree with the mayor because Covid-19 is no joke. It’s serious, and I tell my kids that nobody is dying on my watch being silly.”

Police Murder of George Floyd Sparks Uprisings Across America

From the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul to the Streets of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Louisville, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and New York City, and the bright lights of the Big Apple, African Americans are expressing outrage over the police killing of George Floyd, the latest in a country-mile long list of Black men and women murdered under the color of law.

City officials in Minneapolis and St. Paul called on the National Guard, and state police lined the streets there in riot gear.

An 8PM curfew was ordered, and an African American CNN reporter was arrested while giving a live report from a hotspot of protests.

In California, demonstrators closed the 101 freeway in San Jose as marchers took to the streets in San Francisco and Oakland.

In New York, where the novel coronavirus hit America the hardest and where residents had remained reluctant to gather outdoors, protestors jammed city streets.

New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined an extensive list of politicians condemning the action of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, 44, who, along with three other officers, were videotaped using excessive force on Floyd.

National Newspaper Publishers Association Chair Karen Carter Richards and NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., and numerous other Black Press of America newspaper publishers have expressed outrage over Floyd’s murder and concern about the rampant killings of African Americans at the hands of police and white supremacist vigilantes acting under color of law.

Chauvin inexplicably pressed his knee against a handcuffed Floyd’s neck while the young Black man lay on the ground.

The assault went on for nine minutes, with Floyd pleading that he couldn’t breathe.

Floyd died a short time later at a local hospital.

On Friday, May 29, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Later on that day, bail was set at $500,000.

He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

“This is not a new story, this is a continuing narrative,” Governor Cuomo stated. “This is just another chapter in the book called: Injustice and inequality in America.”

Earlier, former President Barack Obama released a statement weighing in on the injustice regularly experienced by African Americans.

“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America. It can’t be ‘normal,’” Obama stated. “If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.

“It will fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately done.”

“But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station — including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day — to work together to create a ‘new normal’ in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.”

Margaret Huang, president, and chief executive officer of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), said the organization joins with its allies in condemning the recent police killings of Floyd, Tony McDade, Sean Reed, and Breonna Taylor.

“Following the tragic killing of Ahmaud Arbery by a former police officer, the impact of these murders reaches across the country, and there must be accountability. It is absolutely imperative that local police departments and district attorneys investigate, arrest, and prosecute officers and all who violate the rights of the people who live in the communities they are charged to serve,” Huang stated.

“Equally important, law enforcement must stop responding to peaceful protest of police killings with more violence. Police are obligated to protect those in the community, and punishing peaceful protest is a gross abuse of human rights,” she stated. We stand with millions of people across the country who are rightfully outraged by the killing of unarmed Black people, the lack of responsiveness, the lack of action and President Trump calling for violence against those demanding justice for Mr. Floyd’s death.”

Florida Rep. Val Demings, who is Black and a former Orlando police chief, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post Friday, noting that, “as a former woman in blue, let me begin with my brothers and sisters in blue: What in the hell are you doing?”

“As law enforcement officers, we took an oath to protect and serve. And those who forgot — or who never understood that oath in the first place — must go. That includes those who would stand by as they witness misconduct by a fellow officer,” she wrote.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. concluded, “The NNPA, the voice of Black America, calls for an independent investigation into the police murder of George Floyd. We do not trust the perpetrators to investigate themselves. Black America’s cup has run over with grief, anger and rage as a result of these continuing racially motivated murders. If there is no justice, there will be no peace.”

Attorney General Keith Ellison Takes over George Floyd Murder Case

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has taken over the prosecution of ex-police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed and handcuffed African American who died because of the actions of Chauvin and other officers.

“It is with a large degree of humility and great seriousness, I accept for my office, the responsibility for leadership in this critical case involving the killing of George Floyd,” Ellison said during a news conference in Minneapolis.

“We are going to bring to bear all the resources necessary to achieve justice in this case,” he pronounced.

Ellison’s appointment came following a telephone meeting between hip-hop icon Jay-Z and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.

JAY-Z described the conversation as “very earnest” and thanked Governor Walz.

“Earlier today, Governor Walz mentioned having a human conversation with me – a dad and a black man in pain,” Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, wrote in a statement.

“Yes, I am human, a father and a black man in pain, and I am not the only one. This is just a first step. I am more determined to fight for justice than any fight my would-be oppressors may have.”

Walz noted that the icon came to him “not as an international performer, but dad, stressing to me that justice needs to be served.”

This week, Jay-Z’s superstar wife, Beyonce, also spoke out on Floyd’s death on a social media post.

“We need justice for George Floyd,” she uttered. “We all witnessed his murder in broad daylight. We’re broken, and we’re disgusted. We cannot normalize this pain.”

Walz’s selection of Ellison comes as uprisings are taking place around the country and abroad. It also comes as Floyd’s family and their attorney, Ben Crump, have demanded that the other three officers involved face charges.

The family remains outraged that Chauvin is the only officer arrested so far, and prosecutors have leveled just the relatively minor third-degree murder charge against the cop.

Ellison, a former congressman from Minnesota who ran for chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2017, noted that he was accepting the lead on the case with “a large degree of humility and great seriousness.”

UMB makes mail-in voting fun with Election Day gift boxes By Stacy M. Brown

The University of Maryland, Baltimore Community Engagement Center and West Baltimore Community Organizations are encouraging mail-in voting on Election Day with “Party at the Mailbox” boxes.

UMB, officials say they are teaming up with Baltimore Votes and Black Girls Vote to provide West Baltimore neighbors with election resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Black Girls Vote is committed to engaging, educating and empowering our community about voting even during a pandemic. We don’t want Baltimoreans to choose between their health and democracy,” said Nykidra Robinson, founder and CEO of Black Girls Vote, Inc.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Baltimore residents are asked to mail in their ballots rather than congregating at polling locations.

To make the vote by mail experience more fun and engaging, Baltimore Votes and Black Girls Vote have decided to work with UMB to mail free “Party at the Mailbox” gift boxes to city residents.

The gift boxes include Election Day resources, a T-shirt, stickers that say, “I voted” and other election-themed giveaways.

“Black Girls Vote is known for our creativity, innovation, and non-traditional efforts,” Robinson said. “We’re elated to bring you ‘Party at the Mailbox’ with one of our most valuable partners, Baltimore Votes.”

Robinson added that Black Girls Vote is looking forward to seeing “so many Baltimoreans on election night for the biggest virtual election night party the city has ever seen.”

“We’re thrilled to see so many Baltimoreans and beyond excited about voting, and by voting by mail. We love the videos and social media posts- keep them coming,” she said.

UMB officials say to stay safe and maintain social distancing guidelines, and all Baltimore residents are encouraged to vote by mail. However, the UMB Community Engagement Center will be an actual polling location for anyone who decides not to vote by mail.

The polling location will be open for voters on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 220 Arch St. Baltimore, MD 21201.

“Party at the Mailbox is so much fun,” said Sam Novey, the co-founder of Baltimore Votes. “The Baltimore Votes Coalition is dedicated to building an inclusive democracy in Baltimore, and we are so excited to be working with Black Girls Vote on this campaign. It is such a great way to celebrate our city and welcome everyone to be a part of our democracy.”

To register for a personal “Party at the Mailbox” gift box, Baltimore residents can follow this link: https://www.baltimorevotes.org/party.