For Whom It Stands: The flag and the American people

— Awarded Best Historical Exhibition 2014 by Baltimore Magazine, the exhibition For Whom It Stands: The Flag and the American People, relaunches September 10, 2014 with newly added objects that represent iconic moments in U.S. history. A remarkably well-preserved parade flag of the ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ from the 1880s is among the objects. “For Whom It Stands seeks to tell the stories of the flag with a wide-angled perspective in which we all can see ourselves reflected in the national fabric,” says the exhibition’s curator, Dr. Michelle Joan Wilkinson. For Whom It Stands is on view through February 28, 2015 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, 830 E. Pratt Street, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers Parade Flag, ca. 1889. Courtesy of the collection of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey

(Courtesy Photo)

Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers Parade Flag, ca. 1889. Courtesy of the collection of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey

An original parade flag carried by the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers Regiment survives as a fascinating piece of U.S. history. “This flag, which is remarkably well-preserved, is an emblematic example of revered figures in African American, and American, history,” says Associate Curator Asantewa Boakyewa. The “Buffalo Soldiers” were the country’s first all-black military units. Established by Congress, the regiments served with distinction from 1868 through World War II. The flag comes on loan from The Kinsey Collection.

Other notable items include a painting that hung in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s bedroom. “Untitled painting of a black woman sewing an American flag” by O. Vereisky was kept close by the president as he presided over the era of the Civil Rights Movement.

For Whom It Stands features more than 100 works of art, artifacts, documents, and photographs that reflect the breadth of American experiences. USA Today has named it one of ten “must-see” exhibitions in the country. Visitors can see a fragment of the original Star-Spangled Banner made during the War of 1812, a photograph of the Navajo code talkers who communicated the message to soldiers to raise the U.S. flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima, and paintings made by an Arab American in response to the September 11 World Trade Center attacks. The exhibition also includes a stellar lineup of African American artists who have used flag motifs, from William H. Johnson and Faith Ringgold to Kerry James Marshall and Sonya Clark. The exhibition is inspired by Grace Wisher, the 13-year-old African American girl who contributed to the creation of the Star-Spangled Banner as an indentured servant in Mary Pickersgill’s household. View images from the exhibition.

Opening Events during Star Spangled Spectacular, September 13-14, 2014

O Say Can You Feel: Stories Inspired by National Flags September 13, 2014, 2pm

Hear from a former neighbor of Emmett Till’s killers. Listen to a modern-day African American relation to Thomas Jefferson. These true stories, told by the people who lived them, weaves original music, poetry, movement and song throughout. This powerful program of oral histories stirs us to reflect on our own relationship to our flag, our country, and to each other. The director is Harriet Lynn of Heritage Theatre Artists’ Consortium.

National Anthem Remix September 14, 2014 5 pm doors, 5:30 performance

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the National Anthem, renowned beat box artist Shodekeh performs a new interpretation of the National Anthem using virtuoso vocal percussion. His collaborators are the Baltimore Boom Bap Society, a group that performs improvised hip hop; Classical Revolution, a collection of classically-trained musicians who perform classical music in unexpected places; and Embody, a series of the vocal arts. Shodekeh has been featured in The New York Times and the Washington Post.

For Whom It Stands features more than 100 works of art, artifacts, documents, and photographs that reflect the breadth of American experiences. USA Today has named it one of ten “must-see” exhibitions in the country. Visitors can see a fragment of the original Star-Spangled Banner made during the War of 1812, a photograph of the Navajo code talkers who communicated the message to soldiers to raise the U.S. flag at the Battle of Iwo Jima, and paintings made by an Arab American in response to the September 11 World Trade Center attacks. The exhibition also includes a stellar lineup of African American artists who have used flag motifs, from William H. Johnson and Faith Ringgold to Kerry James Marshall and Sonya Clark. The exhibition is inspired by Grace Wisher, the 13-year old African American girl who contributed to the creation of the Star-Spangled Banner as an indentured servant in Mary Pickersgill’s household. View and download hi-res images of the show. View images from the exhibition.

James Page Jr. named VP of Diversity and Inclusion for Johns Hopkins Medicine

— James E. Page Jr. has been named Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for Johns Hopkins Medicine. Page will collaborate with stakeholders and leaders across the system to lead ongoing efforts to create and maintain a diverse and inclusive environment, provide culturally competent patient care, strengthen leadership accountability for diversity and ensure alignment of the diversity efforts with the JHM Strategic Plan.

Page brings more than 17 years of experience to Johns Hopkins, having lead diversity, inclusion and cultural competency initiatives in global Fortune 500 companies and health care. Most recently, he was chief diversity officer and assistant vice president of diversity, inclusion, cultural competency, linguistic services and human resources for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. In this role, he provided strategic leadership and support to align the medical center’s human resources, linguistic services and cultural competency departments.

Prior to his position at the Cincinnati Children’s, he was responsible for directing diversity efforts for DaVita’s 1,500 locations in the U.S. and 10 countries. He also served as vice president of linguistic services, diversity and inclusion for Lancaster General Health in Pennsylvania, where he helped improve delivery of culturally competent care for a diverse patient base in the three-hospital system. In addition, James spent more than 10 years with Dell as a leader in the corporation’s diversity, ethics, and privacy and compliance divisions.

Page graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in computer technology, and he holds an M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. James is highly respected and recognized for his leadership in advancing diversity and inclusion. He served on the Corporate Advisory Committee and Health Disparities Subcommittee for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and on former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell’s Workforce Investment Board Leadership Council.

He has received numerous awards, including a Diversity Achievement award from the Institute for Diversity in Health Management and the International Innovation in Diversity Award from Profiles in Diversity Journal. In 2014, he helped Cincinnati Children’s become one of the top four medical systems for diversity in the country as named by DiversityInc.

A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Page and his wife, Jeresther, have two daughters and one son. He begins work at Johns Hopkins Medicine on August 4, 2014.

Concussions a greater problem for black youth

— Despite the flurry of news about NFL lawsuits over concussions, the problem affects far more athletes at the high school and junior high school level, according to the federal government statistics.

In 2009 alone, nearly 250,000 youth age 19 or younger were treated in emergency rooms for sports and recreation-related injuries that included concussions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 2001 and 2009, the rate of such visits rose 57 percent.

Concussions occur when the brain is shaken violently against the skull. Although concussions are the most common brain injury, widespread awareness and concern about this issue in the world of student athletics is fairly recent.

But it is especially relevant for Black communities, particularly young men most likely to die from traumatic brain injuries, according to the CDC. And according to data from research nonprofit, Child Trends, 50 to 60 percent of Black American high schoolers were on a sports team in 2011.

In severe or untreated cases, they can cause brain damage, seizures, emotional distress, and death—in fact the CDC estimates that 5.3 million U.S. citizens are living with disability as a result of a traumatic brain injury (or TBI, an umbrella term that includes concussions).

“From an athletic trainer perspective concussions have always been a big concern. Coaches seemed to think that injuries increased because [athletic trainers] were there, but really it’s that awareness is increased,” says Jennifer Rheeling, a veteran athletic trainer in D.C. Public Schools and chair of the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee for the D.C. State Athletic Association.

“In the last five years particularly with the NFL starting to talk about it, and the lawsuits, has helped immensely now that people get it on a mainstream level. What they thought was just getting their bell rung was really a concussion.”

On the most diligent and well-resourced student teams, players take baseline tests—a battery of motor skill drills and survey questions to record their individual peak cognitive health—and have athletic trainers who check for signs of decline. If a concussion is suspected, a player does another test to compare those results to his or her baseline. The ImPACT Concussion Management program is currently the program of record for these tests among school athletic programs.

But according to Dr. Vernon Williams, neurologist and medical director of the Sports Concussion Institute, a lack of access to care compounds the (now fading) problem of awareness. ImPACT, for example, costs a minimum of $400 per year for 100 baseline tests and 15 post-injury tests for one school. Meanwhile, many schools and school districts, largely populated by Black and brown children, routinely have to make cuts to balance their budget.

“We have coaches who understand the need, but they have different resources. For example, we know baseline testing for people in contact collision sports can help evaluate when people get injured,” Dr. Williams explains. “But it’s uncommon for people to have access to state-of-the-art baseline testing. Players, school systems, and parents don’t have access to those funds. But we can still implement treatment using creative measures.”

Currently, Dr. Gary Harris, who specializes in computer engineering and serves as associate provost for Research and Graduate Studies at Howard University, is working with engineering students and the Bison football team to devise an inexpensive concussion monitoring system, using an open source platform.

(“Open source” is a tech industry term that means the equipment and information to create this system is public as opposed to proprietary, so as to encourage others to innovate and improve on the idea).

The project uses a computer chip attached inside the helmet that measures impact up to 100 gs of force. For reference: a sneeze is about 2 or 3 gs of force on the human body; an F-16 fighter jet barrel roll exerts 7 to 9 gs; a car crash at 45 mph is about 60 gs. Concussions usually happen with collisions between 80 and 120 gs.

The chip records the force of impact for every collision—it can be programed to transmit this information wirelessly, say, to a cell phone app. Or, it can be downloaded from the helmet using a USB cable. It can also be programed to send an alert when a hit exceeds a certain threshold.

“You can have an entire team’s list where you know all their shock, trauma, and incidents on file,” says Dr. Harris. “We still don’t know the threshold of force for brain damage, we don’t know how many hits it takes, but the first thing we have to do is collect the data.”

Each of these chips costs approximately $30.

Technology is also being used to improve care and outcomes the aftermath of serious concussion cases. Interactive Metronome, a health tech company that creates neurological research-based brain training programs and activities, is one example. The activities are designed around “brain timing”—the ability to clap to a beat, for example. As users play games and do activities that test their reaction time, those brain cell connections are repaired and strengthened. Originally (and primarily) used to improve motor skills and cognitive function in children with ADD/ADHD, the program is beginning to see success with TBI rehabilitation.

“We fit into concussions in a new way, which is helping out when those [post-concussion] symptoms don’t dissipate,” says Nick Etten, vice president of Strategy and Business Development at Interactive Metronome. “There’s a lot of emphasis on technology these days—it’s really important in the world of concussions and cognitive rehab. We’re starting to understand that there was a big void in information.”

Technology has helped improve identifying and treating concussions; on the prevention front, sports health care professionals now have the backing of the law. In all 50 states, a student athlete must be immediately removed from play if a concussion is suspected, and cannot return to practice or play without medical clearance. Some states also mandate that a student must remain free of symptoms or remain on the injured list for a set period of time, even if they gain medical clearance immediately.

But there are still holes in preventing these injuries.

“There’s clearly benefits to legislation in terms of drawing attention to the issue of concussions and having some foundation across the board with how they should be managed,” says Dr. Williams. “I think there are some variables…related to who should be allowed to clear players.”

He and Rheeling have both seen athletes on under-resourced teams get clearance from an emergency room resident, for example, in contrast with athletes who take a concussion test against their baseline with their team’s athletic trainer. They’ve also seen instances of students underreporting their symptoms, coaches resisting care recommendations, and parents being lax in monitoring their child’s rest after a concussion.

Emerging laws are attempting to add another layer of protection by regulating the number of weekly practices involving rough contact drills, thus reducing exposure to collisions and risk of concussion. Trainers, coaches, parents, and athletes can also receive guidance through resources such as the American Academy of Neurology online Sports Concussion Toolkit, and organizations such as the Sports Legacy Network.

“We’re at the end of the beginning as relates to concussion management. We’re learning more every day and the process will continue to evolve,” says Dr. Williams. “We’re out of the phase of explaining what a concussion is, identifying symptoms…. It’s no longer an unrecognized epidemic, we’re aware of the issues and that [a concussion] has to be managed effectively.”

The Historic St. Paul Street Park gets a makeover

— On Friday, June 6, 2014, the Charles North Community Association and Jubilee Baltimore celebrated the rededication of the historic St. Paul Street Park, which will now be called The Michael J. Deets Historic St. Paul Street Park. Deets was an advocate for the arts and community and was very visible in and around the community as a champion for improvements for the Charles North area.

For residents in the area, this park has been transformed from an empty lot to a beautiful garden including murals, benches, and trees and flowers.

“We wanted a place where everyone could come and enjoy when the weather was wonderful. [A] place for the entire family— including your pets. I think we accomplished that,” said Don Donahue, president of the Charles North Community Association.

According to City Councilman District 12, Carl Stokes, “I wish other parts of the city had what this area has. [A] beautiful park and just look at the various types of people we see here today. That is what your neighborhood is supposed to look like. I am very proud to represent the Charles North area.”

The festivities included music by Brad & Paul, hula-hooping, and the unveiling of a new mural called, “We The People,” by Dr. Bob Hieronimus.

Visit our Facebook page: for more photos from the event.

Indie Soul Student of the Week: Arts for Every Child and The Art of STEM

— The Arts Education Coalition, Arts Every Day, and several citywide partners hosted two new art exhibitions, Arts for Every Child and The Art of STEM at City Hall on Thursday, June 5, 2014.


(Courtesy Photo)

Rajee Washington

The free event allowed visitors to view student artwork and live performances and participate in hands on arts-integrated activities.

This why Indie Soul picked the students who performed and displayed their artwork as Indie Soul students of the week.

What a joy to see these kids perform and LOVE doing it. Every child that participated, received a Proclamation from the City of Baltimore courtesy of the Mayors Office. Bravo!

To see more photos from Arts for Every Child and the Art of STEM, please visit our Facebook Page:

Phaedra Parks the ‘belle’ of the Baltimore 2014 African American Festival

— Phaedra Parks said she’s excited about her scheduled participation in the upcoming African American Festival in Baltimore.

The entertainment attorney, television show producer, entrepreneur, and “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star, will host conversations with festival-goers about her successful career and she’ll also engage in a book signing of her tantalizing new tome, “Secrets of the Southern Belle…”

“I see so much bad behavior in young girls today and the book really talks about how we’ve lost that and how we should really want to look our best and present our best at all times,” Parks said. “Being a belle is recognizing that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression and most people don’t realize that you don’t have to be raised in the South to be the same fun-loving package of looks, charm, and determination that makes a belle a Belle.”

With numerous current and former A-list Hollywood stars scheduled to attend this year’s festival, Parks might just be the most intriguing.

Her diverse career has led to regular appearances on major television and cable networks including as legal analyst for HLN, NBC, and Fox News, and Parks has been featured in such publications as People, JET, and the New York Times.

“I get so much love from the Washington, Virginia and Maryland area and this will be my first time at the festival in Baltimore and I’m really excited,” Parks said.

With a lineup heavy on celebrity, Parks’ appearance counts as one to treasure, said Shelonda Stokes, president and CEO of greiBO Entertainment, the producer of the festival, which is sponsored in part by the Baltimore Times.

Parks said she’s also looking forward to being a part of the festival.

“I can’t wait,” she said. “It should be so much fun, a blast.”

Celebrating black fathers

— As we approach Fathers’ Day across the United States and in some other nations throughout the world, it is important to lift up those Black American fathers who are doing what is right and good for their children, families and communities. Too often when the issue of Black men is raised, it is done from a negative or pathological perspective.

The truth is that today there are millions of Black American fathers who are strong providers, nurturers, and loving fathers who are working diligently to contribute to improving the quality of life of their families. It is unfortunate that most of the media attention in America appears to be predisposed only to focus on reporting the tragic dysfunctions of Black men and fathers.

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) offers more than just a counterbalance to the distorted and negative coverage by the so-called mainstream media in America. The NNPA’s member papers and Black Press USA is the consistent and balanced voice of Black America for news and analysis.

One of the fundamental human rights for all people is the right to self-determination. Black American-owned newspapers and other media companies are dedicated to give voice and visibility to support and encourage the overall progress our communities across the nation and throughout the African diaspora.

Thank you President Barack Obama for being both an effective president of the United States and a very good father to your children and extended family. President Obama’s example as a strong father is another significant antidote to the overplayed stereotype concerning the “absent” father figure in Black American family life.

It is important to remember that earlier this year the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics issued a new national research study on the vital role that fathers play in the parenting of their children. This study rebuked the misguided notion that Black American fathers were more delinquent than other fathers in the U.S. In fact, the CDC and the National Center for Health Statistics have now reported that Black American fathers were in many instances “more involved with their kids on a daily basis than fathers from other racial groups.”

Yes, there are serious internal and external challenges to our families and communities. The point here is that in order to solve our problems we have to have more accurate analysis and less finger pointing at one another. We all have to be responsible, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. We also support President Obama’s new national initiative “My Bother’s Keeper” for young Black males and the call by others to correspondingly include an initiative “My Sister’s Keeper” for young Black females. In each of these initiatives, the roles of fathers and mothers will be key to success.

I highly recommend that we all read essential books by a leading scholar on the subject of Black American fathers. Roberta L. Coles is a professor of sociology at Marquette University and has published the following recommended books: The Best Kept Secret: Single Black Fathers and The Myth of the Missing Black Father: The Persistence of Black Fatherhood in America.

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. For the last two decades, the trend of more responsible and accountable Black American fathers has been steadily growing. We should, therefore, salute and celebrate all fathers, but in particular, let’s stand to say “Thank you” to all our fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers who have given so much toward the advancement and empowerment of Black America.

Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is president of Education Online Services Corporation and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and can be reached at:

Jet magazine says it’s ending print edition as times change

— Jet magazine will stop publishing a print edition and switch to a digital format in June, the magazine’s publisher announced Wednesday.

“We are not saying goodbye to JET. We are embracing the future as my father did in 1951 and taking it to the next level,” Linda Johnson Rice, chairman of Johnson Publishing Company, said in a statement.

Rice said the African-American publication is living up to its name.

“Almost 63 years ago, my father, John Johnson, named the publication JET because, as he said in the first issue, ‘In the world today, everything is moving faster. There is more news and far less time to read it,'” she said. “He could not have spoken more relevant words today.”

It’s not the first magazine to shift its focus to the online market.

Newsweek ended its print edition in 2012, but returned to newsstands this year. In December, New York magazine announced it was scaling back publication of its print edition to a biweekly format.

“As long as the (publishing) business model in the United States is based on revenues from advertising and not on circulation, we are going to see more decisions as such,” Samir Husni, a professor at the University of Mississippi who directs its Magazine Innovation Center, told CNN last year.

While readers increasingly gravitate toward electronic versions of magazines on tablets and phones, magazines in print are increasingly “collector’s items,” Husni said.

Jet chronicled the civil rights movement and also became known for news, entertainment, fashion and health coverage.

CNN’s Brian Stelter contributed to this report.


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