MLK Day Parade in Annapolis celebrates peace, recognizes community service

— A sudden snow shower lightly coated Annapolis during the city’s fourth annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade that was held on Monday, January 15, 2018. This year, Annapolis Drum and Bugle Corps, Men Aiming Higher, and We Care & Friends co-hosted the event, which included a concert and grand marshals who were honored for community service work.

Recent frigid temperatures did not deter bands, community groups, sororities, fraternities, politicians, youth groups, Annapolis City employees, and exotic car owners and passengers from making their way to Main Street before stopping at the City Dock.

The celebration of King’s life and legacy was a joyous time for participants and onlookers who bundled up to pay tribute to the late activist and civil rights movement leader. Locals and individuals from across the state greeted each other with waves, hugs, and cheers as the parade’s theme, “Pushing Peace in our Homes, Communities, Nation, & World!” unfolded.

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley thanked everyone who braved the cold temperatures to keep Dr. King’s dream alive by attending the parade. He remarked that is was an important time in history for people to come together.

“I think that… we shouldn’t be governed by fear and greed,” Buckley said. “We should be governed by the things that Martin Luther King espoused. We should be governed by inclusivity. We should be governed by hope…”

Symbols of hope were written on message-filled signs. Posters about dismantling racism to living in a world without hate were held up by diverse parade participants. The strong presence of youth who participated in the City of Annapolis’s fourth annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade indicated that they also wanted to acknowledge philosophies rooted in justice and equality.

Two sisters—Cassandra Wilkins and Ericka Wilkins— are among Annapolitians who are building alliances to benefit youth in Annapolis. Like-minded community leaders such as Odessa Ellis and Sandra Johnson (“Ms. Tippy”) joined them to help a group of young people participate in this year’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade.

Odessa Ellis, chairperson of the Black History Club for Annapolis High School (AHS), leads it during the school day. Ellis said that students who represented AHS during the 2018 parade have been participating since the parade began four years ago.

“We try to instill into the students at AHS, the importance of Black History, and it’s not all just about slavery, but it’s about the achievements of Black people (African-Americans) throughout the world. The club takes trips. We go to museums. We have functions like the parade today, and we have a Black History program in the month of February,” Ellis said, mentioning that an average of 20-25 students drop in for the club. “What makes me feel good about them (AHS students) coming to the club is knowing about their history. It’s open to all races.”

Super Leaders—founded by former Washington Redskin, Brig Owens— is a youth organization, which joined forces with AHS’s Black History Club. Ericka serves as the advisor. In addition to learning Black History, students undergo leadership training and work on academics.

On the day of the parade, Johnson rode in a church van with the Wilkins sisters while passing out gloves, hats, and scarves to younger children who comprised the eclectic group. From day-to-day, Johnson leads an after school program through the Housing Authority for the City of Annapolis at Eastport’s Harbor House Recreation Center. Mentoring, homework help, activities are offered to young students who currently range from ages six to 12.

Johnson, who said she marched in the City of Annapolis’s fourth annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade three times, added that she enjoyed every experience. After the parade, Johnson remarked that youth she escorted learned team building and leadership skills, in addition to knowledge about King.

“They seem to enjoy it. Every year I call on them. Every year they are with me, so I love that,” Johnson said. “I tell them (youth in the program) that every day is history day for us.”

‘Anne Arundel County: Are We Closer to the Dream? A Dialogue on Race’

— The Peer Learning Partnership at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) is sponsoring a Saturday symposium “Anne Arundel County: Are We Closer to the Dream? A Dialogue on Race” on January 6, 2018 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., is in the John A. Cade Center for Fine Arts (CADE) Room 219 on campus. Check in and refreshments begin at 9 a.m. This event is free and open to the public.

The program begins with a keynote address from former Annapolis city Councilman Carl O. Snowden on the topic “The History of Race Relations in Anne Arundel County and Challenges Going Forward.” Snowden’s talk will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by William Rowell and featuring Charlestine Fairley, Thornell Jones, Jane Wilson McWilliams and Anne Arundel County Councilman Peter Smith. Each of the county residents will offer their perspectives on the history and future of race relations in the area, and will field questions from the audience.

The AACC Peer Learning Partnership (PLP) allows members to share learning experiences with peers in a college setting. Members manage the educational program and volunteer their time and talents to share knowledge on a wide variety of subjects. PLP has no age or academic requirements for membership, but participants must join the program to participate in weekly discussion groups, monthly social and cultural events and PLP classes.

For more information, call 410-777-2325, email or look here. To request most accommodations, call Disability Support Services, 410-777-2306 or Maryland Relay 711, or email 72 hours in advance.

Upward Bound: Preparing high school students for college

After six-weeks of intensive sessions and college level coursework, 49 Baltimore County high school students graduated from the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) Upward Bound program on July 26, 2017 in hopes of matriculating into college.

From June 18 to July 26, the students participated in program at CCBC and lived on the campus of University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMUC).

Upward Bound is a nationwide, grant funded educational program, authorized by the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965. At the time, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the legislation into law, it was intended to “strengthen the educational resources of our colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance for students in postsecondary and higher education.” Since 1965 the HEA has been reauthorized nine times.

Coordinated by CCBC, the Upward Bound program was initiated in 1987 and serves students who have demonstrated academic potential. The program is in its 30th year of promoting the development of students’ basic academic skills, cultural enrichment and the motivation to successfully matriculate to and graduate from a four-year college. To ensure the students’ highest success rate, the scholars are required to participate in all of the program’s activities.

Jamil Charles, 17, a third year Upward Bound scholar who plans to study nuclear or electrical engineering and to attend Alabama State or the University of Maryland on a full academic scholarship.

Intellectually daring and with a wise perspective on life, Charles said, “I don’t want my mother to pay a dime for college. It’s not an option about going to college, it’s a must.”

With a 3.8 grade point average, Charles is a member of the National Honor Society, executive treasure for student government association at Owings Mills High School and plays football, lacrosse and wrestles during the school year.

According to Sherron Edwards, director, CCBC Upward Bound, two thirds of the students must meet the income guidelines and be first generation to attend college— neither parent may have Bachelor’s degree. The remaining third may exceed the income guidelines or may not be first generation college graduates.

“We track students for six years after they’ve completed the program,” said Edwards.

The Department of Education requires an annual performance report detailing students’ coursework, grades, grade point average and test results, according to Edwards. During the Upward Bound matriculation and coaching process, Edwards reviews students’ assessments of their actual reading level versus “what their report card says.”

Although excited about attending Upward Bound in his freshman year, Dana Thomas’ refocused his attention to improve his grade point average. At the end of the first quarter of his sophomore year, he earned straight A’s.

“I was ecstatic about being eligible,” he said.

With a broad smile and dread locks reaching his shoulders, the 17 year old rising senior at Landsdowne High School laughed as he recalled how he pretended to be a Power Ranger. Now the aspiring actor and model aspires to study theater and attend Maryland Institute College of Art.

“I’m finding out who I am and how to support myself. Anybody who wants better for themselves should be part of Upward Bound,” he said. “They give you the tools you need to succeed, you just have to use them.”

Many of the students learned about the program through word-of-mouth, like 18-year-old Rico Dorsey, whose godfather participated in the program 10 years ago. Rico has participated in the program for three years as a student at Milford Mill Academy. This summer he returned to serve as a summer bridge student.

“It’s a place of peace, as long as you create the atmosphere,” he said. Rico established networks with other Upward Bound scholars that he went through the program with and they remain in contact.

Michael Thompson, residential director of CCBC Upward Bound program and residential assistant Danielle Jordan organized academic activities, coordinated collegiate workshops and invited several guest speakers, including a local attorney, April Watts, radio personality of Magic 95.9 and Nadir Nasheed, director of Trading Places Mentoring Academy.

Thompson hopes that by broadening their career scope, the students will take advantage of opportunities that are presented to them.

“In addition to learning in school, we want our scholars to educate themselves outside of the school environment,” he said.

Lucy Ekeh raced at the opportunity to attend the summer intensive program. She was accepted into the program and less than a month later she moved into a dorm room. Unlike some other Upward Bound scholars, both of Lucy’s parents graduated from college in Nigeria. Combining her athleticism with academics, the incoming senior at Landsdowne High School is interested in studying law.

“The top three things I gained from the program is a sense of guidance, preparation and responsibility,” said Ekeh. She said her organization and planning skills has increased significantly since the start of the program.

Howard University student uses journalism to give back

Born on a warm July day during the summer of 1997, Noni Marshall entered the world destined to create, lead, and inspire. Marshall grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. It was there that she stepped into her greatness and accepted her calling as a storyteller.

An only child, Marshall spent much of her days in the company of her parents. She recalls them as supportive with high expectations. Her parents divorced, when she was 12 and despite the split, both remained heavily involved in her life. Together they invested in her interests and continued to push her academically.

“They always expected excellence from me, since pre-K,” said Marshall. “I was expected to [earn] all A’s in school, which I lived up to until high school, where I got a few B’s, but still graduated with a 3.5.”

Those high school years were pivotal in Marshall’s life. During her sophomore year at an all-girls school, she had an epiphany that redirected her career goals. After years of training in performing arts, she decided that journalism was the route that she wanted to take.

“I began watching Soledad O’Brien and Lisa Ling. I decided that that’s the type of journalism that I wanted to do,” Marshall said, “I fell in love with profiles and investigative journalism.”

With her plans for the future all mapped out, Marshall continued to strive for excellence by becoming a well-respected student on her school’s campus.

“I was that person you’d go to if you had a problem with anything,” Marshall said, “I was also the liaison between students and staff.”

Marshall served as president of her class and in many other campus organizations, including a diversity initiative club. She was also involved on the cheerleading squad, the dance team, and in the theater arts department. Even though she maintained high levels of service and leadership, Marshall was still surprised when she was honored with two high-ranking awards, during her senior year; winning those awards has been her greatest accomplishment to date.

“To me, that was just a testament to the impact that I was able to make within those four years,” said Marshall. “I wanted to be one of those people that people looked up to.”

Marshall continued to succeed academically, as she entered higher education. Wanting to follow in the legacy of her parents by attending an HBCU, she enrolled at Howard University in the fall of 2015 with her passion for journalism still intact.

In the future, she plans to begin her own daytime television show that highlights stories that are often overlooked.

“I want to showcase [unique individuals] that go against what [society’s] stereotypes would say they should be doing,” Marshall said.

With the show, Marshall also plans to give back; by incorporating philanthropy and mentorship into the show’s format, she hopes to inspire others, just as she once was.

“When I do have my own show, I want to hire people that look like me, give opportunities out, and fund scholarships,” Marshall said.

Since she has been at Howard University, Marshall has gained a great appreciation for the Black Press. When she was younger, her father worked at The Tennessee Tribune. There, she spent time chatting with publishers and editors. Though she was exposed to the Black Press at an early age, it wasn’t until she began taking classes in college that she truly gained an understanding of its importance.

“Once I started learning about the Black Press, it just got me excited,

because we have a different responsibility to our community than other journalists do,” said Marshall. “There’s such a history of our stories being told by other people, that I think it’s so important for us to be able to tell our stories. We’re the only ones who understand it.”

This summer, in honoring the historic Black Press, Marshall participated in the National Newspaper Publishers Association “Discovering The Unexpected” Journalism Fellowship; the eight-week program was sponsored by Chevrolet. The Nashville native worked alongside staffers at The Washington Informer in the nation’s capital as a contributing writer.

As a young, black journalist, she describes herself as a part of a generation of storytellers that are dedicated to continuing the legacy of the Black Press that began 190 years ago. With the role, she explained, comes great responsibility.

New York Life’s African American Market Agents Welcomed to D.C.

— $50.5 billion of life insurance face amount is now in-force by the African American Market Agents, driven by their focused $50 Billion Empowerment Plan efforts over the last six and a half years; this achievement is made in the 60th anniversary of Cirilo McSween becoming the first African American Agent to cross the color barrier, honoring his legacy.

Over the last six and a half years, the campaign called the ‘$50 Billion Empowerment Plan’ has raised consciousness and changed the old perception of life insurance from covering burial and final expenses, to a tool for income protection, wealth building and legacy creation. The program encompassed recruiting, training, lead generation and branding components, with a goal to create $50 billion of protection and future income for the African American community. The vision was to touch the lives of 200,000 African Americans and show them the long-term impact and value of purchasing a $250,000 life insurance policy. (200,000 families X $250,000 in face amount = $50 billion future income).

The vision became a mission, and then a movement to use the empowerment plan message as a starting point and benchmark for personal family conversations. This was the formula for the vision, but in reality our agents worked with each family to meet their individual needs, producing various life insurance policy amounts.

Even more impressive is that $655 million has been paid out in death benefits to African American families, over the last six and a half years. And, nine agents last year were able to deliver $1 million checks to African American families after a breadwinner passed away, making them recipients of this inherited ‘wealth.’ We are saying that this was not a lottery ticket, but the head of a household taking on sound financial planning for their family, helping to pass family wealth and inheritance to the next generation.

African Americans are now using and leveraging life insurance as a tool to help close wealth gap, and they are also benefiting from the living benefits associated with the policies including dividends, and loan disbursement from the cash value within policies.

The achievements of the Empowerment Plan initiative also coincide with the diamond jubilee or 60th anniversary celebration of the hiring of Cirilo A.

McSween, New York Life’s first African American agent. A trailblazer, McSween crossed the color barrier within the insurance industry in 1957, and qualified for Million Dollar Round Table during his first year in the business, and every year thereafter for 26 years.

McSween dedicated his life to empowering the African American community. A civil rights leader and confidant of Martin Luther King Jr., he was treasurer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and a member of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s board of directors. He was also a successful businessman and McDonald’s franchisee.

Although McSween passed away in 2008, his name, legacy and dream of equality live on. New York Life’s 1,200+ African American agents proudly carry the torch that he passed to them. And with the wealth of white households 13 times greater than that of black households, according to a CNN Money article in June 2016, today’s agents are working to close the racial wealth gap as passionately as McSween and his cohorts fought for civil rights.

Day of Unity addresses HIV disparities during 108th NAACP Convention

In 2014, the number of Baltimore residents living with diagnosed HIV stood at 17,505, according to statistics provided by the Department of Health.

Sixty-five percent were men and 35 percent were women while 76 percent were African-Americans. Latinos made up four percent while 14 percent were white.

In part, due to these statistics, officials with an initiative started by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called the Black Church & HIV are hosting a “Day of Unity” on Sunday, July 23, 2017 to bring together pastors to preach about HIV as a social justice issue in conjunction with the NAACP annual convention in Baltimore. The event will feature several faith leaders who promise to work to inspire action and stop what they call the social injustices that have led to the unequal impact of HIV on black America, which comprises 12 percent of the United States population, but 41 percent of all individuals living with HIV.

Faith leaders and members of the community join arms in a prayer circle for HIV sufferers.

Courtesy Photos/Day of Unity Organizers

Faith leaders and members of the community join arms in a prayer circle for HIV sufferers.

“HIV disproportionally affects the black community, and any time we see anything disproportionally affecting one group of people more than others, we must question if the root cause has to do with social injustices,” said Pastor William Francis, the lead servant at the Atlanta Faith in Action Center and ambassador of the Black Church & HIV: The Social Justice Imperative Initiative.

“For generations, the Black Church has been a leader for change in the black community on issues of social justice, the initiative is applying this tradition of social justice advocacy to the HIV epidemic,” Francis said. “The Day of Unity is important because it unites faith leaders from across the country to preach about HIV as a social justice issue and really harnesses the power of the pulpit and black churches to fight this epidemic.”

“So often, people with HIV feel alienated from the church and the sense of community it can provide. Day of Unity reverses this and says we see you; we love you; let us pray for you; and let us help you. We are called by God to love all our brothers and sisters and the Day of Unity exemplifies this,” Francis said.

The initiative takes its mission from a famous quote from the African-American author James Baldwin, who said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

So, on the Day of Unity, organizers want to pass the message that they want everyone to face HIV together, and put their faith into action.

The Day of Unity began in 2012 and more than 120 churches have signed up to participate in this year’s event— six are in the Greater Washington D.C. and Baltimore area.

Each year, more are recruited to participate and raise awareness about HIV, its disproportionate impact the black community and the role the Black Church can play in turning the tide, according to Francis.

The initiative works to overcome stigma and address HIV as an issue of social justice by conducting faith leader trainings across the 30 U.S. cities which bear the greatest burden of HIV; obtaining formal resolutions from mainline denominations to incorporate HIV messaging into church activities; and integrating HIV-related materials into required course curricula in predominantly black seminaries.

“The higher rates of HIV among African Americans in the U.S. point to the overwhelming injustices in the political, healthcare, economic and educational systems,” Francis said. “During the Day of Unity, I hope to raise awareness of the social injustices surrounding the HIV epidemic to as many people as possible.”

“We encourage participants to get involved in Day of Unity in at least one of three ways, which include, preaching about HIV as a social justice issue, sharing our social media posts and acting by downloading our new resources which start to answer questions as to how we can address HIV in Black America,” Francis said.

For more information about the Day of Unity, visit

Baltimore Times hosts ‘ACCESS TO CAPITAL’ Forum

Harbor Bank, MECU, Wells Fargo and Meridian Management Group were among the local bankers and financial institutions to join a Baltimore Times-sponsored event that instructed dozens of individuals on how to get on the path to success for raising capital for their businesses. MCE (Maryland Capital Enterprises, Inc.); kiva: Small Business Resource Center; and Minority Business Development Agency were other partners.

The forum, titled “Access to Capital” featured micro-financers, specialty lenders, banks and credit unions whose goal was to help educate local entrepreneurs. Two entrepreneurs, Aaron Jones and Tammira Lucas were also present to talk about their experiences as business owners.

 Joy Bramble, publisher of The Baltimore Times presents checks to grant winner, Cara Paige, founder, Color Paige Creative.

Dennis Roberts

Joy Bramble, publisher of The Baltimore Times presents checks to grant winner, Cara Paige, founder, Color Paige Creative.

“Education is the key to building wealth and building successful business leads to the creation of generational wealth,” said Everett Sands, the CEO and president of Lendistry, a small business lender in operations for nearly 20 years.

“I think understanding that there is a path to successful financing is key,” Sands said.

Sands partnered with the nonprofit Center for Strategic Economic Studies and Institutional Development, Inc. and the Baltimore Times to host the workshop at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African History & Culture on June 10, 2017.

The event underscored the need for financial education, said Joy Bramble, publisher of The Baltimore Times.

Joy Bramble, publisher of The Baltimore Times presents checks to grant winner, Anthony Shoats, CEO, Xquisite Transportation, LLC

Dennis Roberts

Joy Bramble, publisher of The Baltimore Times presents checks to grant winner, Anthony Shoats, CEO, Xquisite Transportation, LLC

“Without adequate financial knowledge, businesses and individuals could face some serious obstacles. We don’t want to wait until we have some sort of financial crisis before trying to obtain a financial education and the ‘Access to Capital’ event was designed to do just that,” Bramble said.

As a community organization and Baltimore’s Credit Union, it’s MECU’s responsibility to participate in such events, said Sheila Lawson, vice president of business services for MECU.

“Entrepreneurs need to understand what financial institutions require with commercial loan requests and why this information is necessary. The knowledge of what’s required will generally help facilitate a better application process,” Lawson said. She added: “I think the event was very well received from both the panelists and the attendees.”

A panel of lenders comprised of industry experts from a wide spectrum of financial institutions responded to loan and financial related queries.

“I participated to help businesses know what they can do to be successful,” said Calvin Young, a vice president at the Harbor Bank of Maryland. “Understanding how to get capital is a cornerstone of business growth,” Young said.

There were lots of good questions from both new and seasoned business owners, said David R. White, of Wells Fargo Business Bank.

“It’s always great to share helpful tips with business owners on the best ways to access capital as well as the different financing options available depending on where they are in the business life cycle,” White said.

Anthony Shoats of Xquisite Transportation LLC and Cara Paige of Cover Page Creative, were winners of a $1,000 grant to use as a business advancement resource.

Shoats said he realized that the cloud that most have hanging over them when it comes to getting financing has been daunting.

“I walked away from there feeling something had been lifted off me,” Shoats said.

“Despite being an African-American-owned business, there are companies out there that are willing to help us not only to secure financing but to help us to get our eggs in a row so that we could qualify for financing,” he said.

Said Paige, “This was a phenomenal inaugural event that provided a well-rounded look at capital for small businesses. I’m thankful for the grant,”

Aaron Jones, Treason Toting Company

Courtesy Photo

Aaron Jones, Treason Toting Company

Aaron Jones, co-founder of Treason Toting Company and Tammira Lucas, co-founder of Moms as Entrepreneurs encouraged the audience by telling their entrepreneurial journey. Their advice to start-up and seasoned business owners is to not give up on yourself, and to be sure to educate yourself about your business and how to run it effectively.

Tammira Lucas, Moms as Entrepreneurs

Courtesy Photo

Tammira Lucas, Moms as Entrepreneurs

The event also helped participants get acquainted with Lendistry and the Center for Strategic Economic Studies and Institutional Development in Baltimore. serves as an online community lender for small businesses. The company facilitates the loan process by working in partnership with banks and social impactors, allowing them to provide the capital businesses need quickly, at responsible rates, they said.

Since 1998, the Center for Strategic Economic Studies and Institutional Development, Inc. has functioned as a think tank with the purpose of delivering charitable, educational, financial, technological, and holistic solutions for small businesses. Specifically, they listen to the underserved business communities’ voices, identify their needs, collaborate with service providers, and provide innovative education and solutions to these communities, officials said, noting they also act as a participating lender to foster growth for small businesses and their communities.

Sand’s organization has also been in business for nearly two decades assisting entrepreneurs and business owners.

“We are a community development financial institution with a mission to provide economic opportunities and progressive growth for small business owners and their underserved communities as a source of financing and financial education,” Sands said.

St. Louis teens leave messages of hope on vandalized memorial

— A group of St. Louis students took lessons learned in their social justice program and put them into action when they encountered vandalism hundreds of miles away.

Students participating in the Cultural Leadership program returned Tuesday night from a 21-day journey across the country to places in the US with civil rights and social justice significance.

The teens met Supreme Court Justices and Congressmen, they traveled from New York to Washington DC to Alabama. But it was in Money, Mississippi that they encountered something troubling.

At the memorial for Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American boy who was kidnapped and lynched in 1955, they discovered vandalism.

“I couldn’t fathom that someone would disrespect this man and his death and we know he died unjustly,” said Promise Mitchell, a student with the Cultural Leadership program.

The sign on the Mississippi Freedom Trail was defaced, the facts and quotes about Till were stripped off, damaged by vandals.

So the teens took action.

“We figured we’re here to make change, so how can we make change at this monument? So we get out our loose leaf paper and we decide to write down facts and draw pictures,” said Dani Gottlieb, a student in the group.

So while the paper notes they wrote might not last, the lesson this group learned will remain. According to the organization in charge of maintaining the sign said it would be removed this week for repairs. It’s the second time the sign has been vandalized in the last two years.

Xpressions Mentoring and Consulting targets young females

Stacey R. Stanley raised her daughters as a single mother with the support of family and excellent role models as being key ingredients to her academic and entrepreneurial success.

At the age of 14, Stanley gave birth to her first daughter She’Tia Washington at 14. Stanley would then have her second daughter Sanaya. Now 37, Stanley has earned undergraduate and graduate degrees, and is currently working on her doctorate. She’Tia, 22, is a 2nd Lt. Officer in the Army Reserves, recently received her B.S. degree in Sociology, and a minor in Criminal Justice from Morgan State University. Sanaya is now in the fourth grade, crafts jewelry and is looking to start her own clothing line.

However, Stanley said a key ingredient on was missing missing from her support system – an ingredient she says will be offered through her new mentoring program, Xpressions Mentoring and Consulting.

“Resources,” said Stanley. “That’s what was missing for me – resources. There was a lack of resources out there to encourage and motivate teens to be successful. That’s where I want to help. I founded Xpressions Mentoring and Consulting because I want to offer a program that provides guidance and resources for young girls.

“Through this program, I wanted to be able to teach these youth how to fill out job applications, give them job interviewing skills, help them prepare for college entrance, and help show them how to connect to others socially and professionally. The program is designed to be an enhancement to their lives.”

Stanley is a 1997 graduate of Milford Mill Academy. For 23 years, she has worked as a cosmetologist, and for 10 years, she operated her own hair salon. She retired from cosmetology in March of this year to start Xpressions Mentoring and Consulting.

“Xpressions Mentoring and Consulting is officially open,” said Stanley. “The vision of Xpressions Mentoring and Consulting is to create a healthy mental and physical path to help these young ladies to reach their goals. We are going to help them to develop their social skills, build their self-confidence, inspire them to bring about positive social change, and prepare them for independent living.”

According to Stanley, Xpressions Mentoring and Consulting will target females ages 6 to 21.

“My dream has always been to reach out and help our youth,” said Stanley. “Xpressions Mentoring and Consulting is my way of doing that. As a mental health professional, I want youth to know that help is out there. I am big on mental health, especially when it comes to children and adolescents. This program will assist our participants with finding mental, emotional, and physical balance. I am dedicated to constructing and demonstrating a positive path for my daughters and other youth.”

Xpressions Mentoring and Consulting also offers a Saturday program, developed to teach social skills, etiquette, and personal hygiene, among other important skills associated with healthy youth development. We will also have various professionals to come in and talk with them.”

The program’s brand ‘#xpressME,’ said Stanley, “means giving detail without giving limits, or expressing your feelings without being judged,”

Stanley received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Morgan State University, her master’s degree in child and adolescent psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and is currently a general psychology doctoral student at Capella University. She is currently a student affiliate member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and National Association of Professional Women (NAPW).

Xpressions Mentoring and Consulting will hold a workshop on October 8, 2017 from noon until 7 p.m. at Morgan State University.The event will feature speakers, vendors, and more.

Xpressions Mentoring and Consulting is based out of 8600 LaSalle Road in Towson, MD. For more information about Xpressions Mentoring and Consulting, or their upcoming workshop, call (410) 908-1429 or send an email to

New survey reveals surprising ways to celebrate African-American patriarchs

— In a new survey commissioned by, the pioneers of genetics ancestry tracing for people of African descent, spending quality time and gifts of words out ranked giving material gifts as expressions of gratitude for black family patriarchs.

The survey, which polled African Americans ages 18 to 65, also revealed that while nearly 72 percent of respondents strongly agreed that it is important to honor family patriarchs, only 18 percent said that they celebrate them enough.

In the survey where patriarchs are defined as any male head of the family, Father’s Day ranked lowest when asked the occasion when you most celebrate fathers. Nearly 38 percent said they celebrate them “everyday” and 21 percent said “birthdays.” Family reunions and holidays were among the least occasions to celebrate patriarchs.

“Black men, especially fathers, are the cornerstone of our community, yet are more often demonized than supported in this society,” said President and Co-founder Dr. Gina Paige. “We strongly agree that ‘everyday’ is the best time to celebrate our patriarchs, and we are committed to making it easier to do so.”

Not surprisingly, gathering during the holidays is high priority when it comes to spending time but don’t expect a vacation or trip. And when it comes to words of affirmation, respondents prefer most to do it in phone calls, but texting and hand-written notes, were also popular.

•Spending Quality Time: Sixty-six percent ranked spending quality time as an expression of honor, while 16 percent ranked it least favorite. A whopping 50 percent said they spend time most during the holidays and the least favorite way to spend time was on a vacation or trip. Participating in family celebrations and taking loved ones out for special events were also popular expressions of time.

•Words of Affirmation: More than half of respondents ranked gifts of words as a popular way to honor their patriarchs. Seventy-four percent preferred phone calls the most, while 40 percent ranked hand-written notes as second favorite and sending texts or posting on social media ranked at nearly 37 percent

•Material Gifts: When it comes to material gifts, 68 percent ranked sharing family history such as photos and ancestry kits. Watches, clothing and special event tickets were the least favorite gifts to share, and giving money was pretty popular 29 percent.

From June 1 through 15, 2017,’s flagship PatriClan™ DNA test kit will be specially priced. Using its proprietary database of more than 30,000 African lineages, the PatriClan determines the present day African country of origin and ethnic group of a branch on the paternal line.

Founded in 2003, African Ancestry Inc. ( pioneered African lineage matching in the United States utilizing its proprietary DNA-database to more accurately assess present-day countries of origin for people of African descent. African Ancestry’s products include the MatriClan™ and PatriClan™ ancestry tests and customized memorabilia and informative resources. African Ancestry is African-American-owned and headquartered in Washington, D.C.