Eleven-year-old Krissa Hillman pitches ‘sweet business’ to Warren Buffett

— Not every 11-year-old knows how to make cupcakes, and it’s rare that a pre-teen comes up with such a sweet idea to raise money to help other children learn to read. Krissa Hillman is an exception. The 11-year-old Bollman Bridge Elementary School fifth-grader is working with the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship to market her cupcakes in front of the rich and affluent, who may be able to help launch Krissa’s recipe.

“I’m so excited, that I’m shaking,” said Krissa, who dished out her goodies to a group of entrepreneurs at the Maryland Center on Friday, May 17, 2013.

Now, another opportunity of a lifetime has arrived.

Out of 4,000 children who range in age from seven to 16 who entered Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club’s, “Learn and Earn, Grow Your Own Business Challenge,” Krissa was selected to tell her story to Buffet on Monday, May 20, 2013 in Omaha, Nebraska. If selected by Buffett, Krissa will win $5,000 to help start her “Cupcakes for Literacy” business.

The Buffett challenge is a national competition seeking to help young entrepreneurs cultivate smart habits financially and it encourages young people to come up with unique new business concepts.

“Not everyone gets a chance to do this,” said Krissa, who will compete with four other students to win Buffett’s challenge. “I was like, it’s a one in a billion chance because there are so many great ideas and the fact that he picked mine really kind of touches my heart,” she said.

Krissa said she created her cupcake business in order to benefit reading programs, libraries and local schools. “Literacy is a big part of life. You have to read everything,” Krissa said. “So, what better way to help people understand that through something everyone likes?”

Entrepreneurs and leaders at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) in Columbia, Maryland gave vital feedback to Krissa as she prepared to deliver her pitch to Buffett, the famous business magnate, investor and philanthropist who is widely considered the most successful investor of his time.

“Our role is to steer entrepreneurs in the right direction, but also give them what they need to sustain a business,” said Julie Lenzer Kirk, executive director of the MCE. “With Krissa, we want to give her all the support she needs and let her know that we will be there for her every step of the way.

For Krissa, the idea began after her mother purchased a cupcake recipe book for her at a school book sale. “Six years ago, I made a website called Storytime with Krissa to upload videos of her reading aloud,” Krissa’s mother, Sabrina Wilson said. “When she got the cupcake book, we decided to put a new spin on it.”

During a bake sale for a parent-teacher conference, Krissa was able to raise $258 during a six-hour period. She gave the money to the school’s library.

“It all sounds like something only someone high up in the business world would get to do,” Krissa said. “I get to meet Warren Buffett.”

Happy Mommy Day!

Hello everyone; “HAPPY MOMMY DAY” to all the mothers and mothers to be, this is your weekend. What a special day this is. We are on this earth because of the mommies, (well the daddies had a little something to do with it), but the mother is the one that should be celebrated. If you are fortunate enough to still have your mother above ground, Honey Child, cherish it. My mother passed away in 2001 and I still miss her, I know many of you feel the same way. When my mother passed away, I remember saying, “Lord, who will pray for me now.” So folks, take time out of your schedule to spend time with the woman who brought you into this world or the person who has been like a mother to you. To anyone who has recently lost their mother, you are in my prayers. The memories will never go away. Just think of the good times you had with her.

I have a few suggestions where you can take your mother and family this weekend, depending on your taste. You can plan a festive dinner at home and have the children do all the cooking for a change. Or you can gather the family and go to a drive-in movie theatre. You might have known this, but I just discovered recently that there is still a drive-in movie theatre in Baltimore, called Bengies and it is out of sight! Just like the old days. This movie theatre is celebrating 58 years of continuous operation. That is amazing! I thought sure that all the drive-Ins were obsolete! Bengies Drive-In Movie Theatre is located 3417 Eastern Boulevard. Call 410-687-5627 for more information.

Or maybe a Bull & Pork Roast might suit your fancy. “Friends of Boy Scout Troupe 615” is hosting one on Saturday, May 11 at the Church of the Resurrection, 3175 Paulskirk Drive in Ellicott City, Maryland from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. It is buffet style all you can eat. There will have live bands and DJ’s for your entertainment, adult gaming, wine, beer and sodas on sale, silent auction, door prizes and much more. For ticket information, call Teresa at 410-465-8637. I will see you there.

You can hang out with the Mason’s Brothers, John A. Holmes Lodge #89, PHA with their Annual Mother’s Day Bull and Oyster Roast on Saturday May 11, 2013 from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. at the Forum Caters, 4210 Primrose Avenue. This event is open bar and buffet with renowned comedian as M.C., Rickey “The Real Deal” Shackleford and music provided by DJ Tanz. For ticket information, call David Beatty at 443-546-7362.

If you want to take your mom out early in the day, this is a suggestion. The Champagne Room, located 2701 W. Patapsco Avenue is hosting a Mother’s Day Brunch on Sunday, May 12 from 12 to 3 p.m. with a delicious hot & cold buffet; live entertainment provided by Baltimore’s own Rollex Band with a special tribute to their former leading vocalist, the late “Barretta,” who passed away this year. Sounds like fun! For ticket information, call 410-644-3434 or go to www.champagneballroom.com.

You can hang out with the Mason’s Brothers, John A. Holmes Lodge #89, PHA with their Annual Mother’s Day Bull and Oyster Roast on Saturday May 11, 2013 from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. at the Forum Caters, 4210 Primrose Avenue. This event is open bar and buffet with renowned comedian as M.C., Rickey “The Real Deal” Shackleford and music provided by DJ Tanz. For ticket information, call David Beatty at 443-546-7362.

If you want to take your mom out early in the day, this is a suggestion. The Champagne Room, located 2701 W. Patapsco Avenue is hosting a Mother’s Day Brunch on Sunday, May 12 from 12 to 3 p.m. with a delicious hot & cold buffet; live entertainment provided by Baltimore’s own Rollex Band with a special tribute to their former leading vocalist, the late “Barretta,” who passed away this year. Sounds like fun! For ticket information, call 410-644-3434 or go to www.champagneballroom.com.

For the young at heart, a “Big Mother’s Day Tribute to Motown Legends” will be featured on Sunday May 12, 2013 at 5 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre located at 1215 U Street NW in Washington, D.C. featuring The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards; Delfonics, The Dynamic Superiors and JR Walker’s All-star Band. For tickets or more information, call: 202-328-6000 or Ticketmaster: 202-432-SEAT (7328).

There are a couple of things, I want to bring to your attention, the first is that the Rosa Pryor Music Scholarship Fund, Inc. is having a membership drive and we are looking for men and women who are interested in helping underprivileged children who are gifted in music, singing or playing an instrument. Also, if you know someone who has a child that is gifted in singing or playing an instrument between the ages of five and 17 years old anywhere in the state of Maryland, email Dr. Donna Hollie at DTH1800@aol.com or call: 410-323-4927 for an application or you can go to our website; www.rosapryormusic.com.

The second thing I want to tell you is that I have finished my second book and my publisher has it as I speak. It goes to print this week. I should have my book called, “African American Community, History & Entertainment in Maryland: Remembering the Yesterdays, 1940-1980” in my hands and it will be available at major bookstores, as well as online by the end of this month. I will keep you informed. I am so excited about this project.

Well folks, it is about tat that time, I am out of space. If you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me at rosapryor@aol.com. UNTIL THE NEXT TIME, I’M MUSICALLY YOURS.

Jennifer Hudson might return to ‘Idol’ as a judge

— It sounds like “American Idol” is far more interested in sticking with old friends than making new ones.

After rumors that the show wants Jennifer Lopez to return to the judges’ table – which is now missing Randy Jackson and potentially might lose more – come new reports that the production team also has its eye on Jennifer Hudson.

The former “Idol” contestant didn’t win during her season but she has gone on to become a pretty big deal, so she’s certainly qualified – and The Wrap reports that she’s in negotiations to join the series.

In addition to Hudson, reports suggest that the Fox show is hoping to bring back more than one former “Idol” star, with names like Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert and Clay Aiken being mentioned.

Fox isn’t giving specifics about what’s to come, and thus it also isn’t clear what’s going to happen to Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj or Keith Urban, who just joined the show last year. After all, the network’s entertainment chairman, Kevin Reilly, told press on a recent conference call that “everything’s on the table.”

Jackson, the last original “Idol” judge attached to the program, announced his departure in early May.


™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Doctor raises money for obstetric fistula surgeries

— It’s a condition practically unheard of in the United States and most Western countries. But in a culture where a woman’s status and dignity is decided by her ability to provide a husband with multiple children, it can be a fate worse than death.

“Obstetric fistula” is a mouthful. But to these women, it’s much more than just a physical injury. They see themselves as the walking dead, says Dr. Justin Paluku Lussy, head of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at HEAL Africa Hospital in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

An obstetric fistula occurs when a woman withstands days of obstructed labor, when a baby’s head is constantly pushing against her pelvic bone during contractions — preventing blood flow and causing tissue to die.

This creates a hole, or a “fistula,” between a woman’s vagina and her bladder or rectum. Her baby is unlikely to survive. If the mother lives, she is unable to hold her urine and, in some cases, bowel content, Paluku Lussy says.

A woman with a fistula, who is perpetually leaking urine and sometimes feces, is often rejected by her husband and shunned by her village because of her foul smell and inability to bear more children.

“These women have so much shame and so much fear. They spend so much money on perfume trying to cover up the smell,” says Alison Heller, a doctorate student at Washington University in St. Louis who is leading a research study of 50 women in Niger awaiting fistula surgery. The women range in age from 15 to 70.

An estimated 20% of Paluku Lussy’s fistula patients report feeling ostracized by their communities, and divorce is common, says the doctor, who started his residency in 2001 at HEAL Africa, a 155-bed tertiary hospital with a fistula repair unit.

“People think fistula patients are witches and just have bad luck,” he says.

Although an estimated 2 million women in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa live with untreated obstetric fistula, according to the Fistula Foundation, it’s unlikely for these women to meet or hear of anyone else suffering from the same injuries, because of the lack of modern forms of communication and also the women’s reluctance to discuss the condition, Heller says.

In most cases, a woman with a fistula doesn’t know what a fistula is or that it’s treatable with surgery. And if she does, she is far from any hospital and doesn’t have money for — or access to — transportation, let alone the average $450 cost for repair surgery plus postoperative care.

One of the youngest in Heller’s study, a 15-year-old girl who was married off to her uncle at age 8, spent eight months selling bags of candied peanuts in order to raise enough money to pay for a taxi so she could get to a fistula center.

Such concerns are foreign concepts to most Westerners, says Dr. Lewis Wall, a professor of obstetrics and anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. That’s because obstetric fistulas were largely eradicated from the United States by the 20th century, with strides in prenatal care and the use of cesarean section.

But pregnancy complications and childbirth are among the leading causes of death and disability for African women, Wall says.

Typical West African hospitals do not have the trained staff or resources to identify and treat fistulas, Heller says.

“Habsu,” one 32-year-old woman in Heller’s study, contracted a fistula in her ninth pregnancy and has had three previous surgeries, all of which have failed. During the latest pregnancy, she was in labor for several days at home in a rural village before receiving medical care. Like many African women, she was malnourished and her pelvic bones were too small for a natural birth.

After hours of unsuccessful labor and not knowing how to perform a cesarean, the doctors used a scalpel to sever the baby inside the woman’s birth passage. Over the next few days, the mother delivered her baby, piece by piece, Heller says.

Another West African woman in Heller’s study, “Amina,” also has a severe fistula but only leaks when she sits down. After the seated interview with Heller, Amina apologized, saying she would leak urine once she stood up.

“It was as if a gallon of water was thrown to the ground,” Heller says. “She was so ashamed.”

Many Africans — both educated and uneducated — believe there is no cure for fistulas, Paluku Lussy says. When he was in medical school at the University of Goma, he says, “they used to tell us not to even try to fix them.”

But, he says, that’s not the case. Fistulas can be repaired with delicate surgery, which has a fairly good success rate. However, surgeons must be well-trained in the principles of the operation, and good follow-up care is essential so the surgery won’t fail. Patients with more severe fistulas may need multiple surgeries.

Although he is a full-time professor, Wall last year opened the Danja Fistula Center in Niger, a 42-bed hospital specializing in fistula repair surgeries with an operating room, outpatient clinic and hostel facilities for about 100 women.

Since opening the fistula center, Wall estimates the facility has taken on 50 fistula cases per month.

But it’s very difficult to get trained staff to run a fistula hospital, because of the lack of available education in Africa, he says. Fistula centers rely on donations and cannot afford to hire American gynecologic surgeons.

But even they aren’t ideal candidates for the job — since they never see fistula in their own country, they have no experience with it, he says. It’s best to have the institution run by locals trained specifically in fistula repair surgery and care.

Those who want to help should focus on spreading the word — awareness is key, he says. Thursday is the first International Day to End Obstetric Fistula; the United Nations Population Fund will host a variety of events to raise awareness.

That’s true for Washington resident Olivia Bowen. She had never heard of obstetric fistula until she read a book featuring a detailed story of an African woman with the condition. Bowen was shocked at how affordable fistula repair surgery is, by Western standards.

Bowen started a fundraiser called “One Week to End Fistulas,” which raises money for repair surgeries for underprivileged women who otherwise lack access. She asks that participants practice yoga daily for a week and raise enough money for one woman to have fistula repair surgery.

“I’m not a runner. I do yoga. So it’s something that just came naturally to me,” Bowen says.

So far, participants have raised about $2,250, or enough to fund five surgeries.

Bowen, who is in the process of making the fundraiser a nonprofit organization, says she hopes to help women who have already developed fistula, while the bigger organizations tackle other issues such as poverty, maternal health and human rights. Ultimately, she says, fistula is not just a women’s issue; it’s a human issue.


™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Should baby killers be executed?


Gregory Kane

There are baby killers among us. At least one, possibly three, of them killed little Carter Scott.

Carter was only 16-months-old. He was sitting in a red Chevy with his father, Rashaw Scott, at Cherry Hill’s Cherrydale Apartments around 7 p.m. the evening of May 25, 2013.

According to police and news reports, at least two gunmen, possibly three, riddled the car with at least 16 bullets. Both Carter and his father were hit.

The little boy died of his wounds. If those who committed this heinous act were indeed guilty, what would be the problem with executing them, these baby killers?

Well, our governor and most of our state legislators apparently have a big problem with it. The Legislature passed a bill to abolish capital punishment earlier this year, and Gov. Martin O’Malley was only too eager to sign the bill into law.

Oh, they felt quite noble about themselves. When the bill was passed, legislators cheered and clapped and patted themselves on the back.

NAACP head honcho Benjamin Todd Jealous could be seen in the throng, helping to lead the cheering. Abolishing the death penalty in Maryland was high on the NAACP’s agenda this year.

A question for Jealous: what are you going to do for little Carter Scott and his surviving relatives?

There’s no need for him to answer, because you know, I know and HE knows he’s going to do exactly jack diddly. So are those legislators. So is O’Malley.

Have you noticed the lack of outrage, the eerie silence coming from the abolish-the-death-penalty crowd about the death of little Carter?

Back when they were whooping and hollering to deep six the death penalty— in other words, back when they were all celebrating “Be Kind to the Homicidal Month”— we couldn’t get these people to shut the hell up.

Now a 16-month-old baby has been gunned down on Baltimore’s streets and all we get from these folks is their best Harpo Marx routine.

Perhaps that’s because they’re at their most eloquent when they’re advocating FOR criminals, instead of condemning them.

While our legislators have spent the last couple of years figuring out how to prevent murderers from getting their just desserts, two suspects in little Carter’s murder were running up quite the arrest record.

The two suspects that have been arrested and charged so far are 26-year-old Cornell Harvey and 20-year-old Eddie Tarver.

A visit to the website: www.courts.state.md reveals the arrest record for each.

It appears Harvey was the busier of the two, racking up arrests on charges of drug possession, robbery, armed robbery, second-degree assault, possession of a firearm with a felony conviction, illegal carrying of a handgun.

In May of 2011, Harvey was charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder but found not guilty.

Tarver’s record includes arrests for second-degree assault, drug possession and a handgun violation.

Both Harvey and Tarver are entitled to a presumption of innocence in the death of little Carter. But, if they’re convicted, given their criminal history and the nature of the crime— baby killing— what would be the reason why they SHOULDN’T be executed?

The death penalty isn’t a deterrent— opponents of it love to argue. But the argument has several flaws.

First, the death penalty is meant to be a PUNISHMENT, not a deterrent. That’s why it’s called the “death PENALTY,” not the “death DETERRENT.”

Second, the death penalty most certainly deters murderers from murdering again. Some of those on death row aren’t there for their first murders, but for, at the very least, their second.

The death penalty for career criminals who’ve committed more than one murder is justice, not, as opponents of capital punishment love to proclaim, “revenge.”

If Harvey and Tarver did indeed kill little Carter, then justice will elude them, courtesy of our governor and our Legislature.

Cash Money boss ‘excited’ about signing Paris

— Paris Hilton is the newest member of one of hip-hop’s hottest labels.

The heiress and reality star has signed with Cash Money Records, which is home to hitmakers Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Drake. Cash Money’s co-founder Bryan “Birdman” Williams tweeted a welcome to Hilton on Wednesday, causing Hilton’s name to cruise at the top of the social media’s trending topics for hours. (Said Hilton in response, “Thanks BO$$! Happy to be apart of the family.”

Hilton, who’s been hanging out in Cannes, France, which is currently boasting its film festival, said as much earlier this week to Showbiz411. She brought up her second album, which she’s previously said would involve Afrojack as an executive producer, and revealed that the record will be released by Cash Money and will feature hip-hop acts.

Many were (and continue to be) skeptical of Hilton’s confirmed new deal with the label, but Williams told the Los Angeles Times that the decision to sign the 32-year-old was pretty simple.

“She’s always supported us, and we’ve supported her,” he said. “She played us music, and I was taken aback. I was impressed by her music, and I didn’t know she could sing so well.”

Hilton’s been working on her follow-up to 2006’s “Paris” for more than a year, and hopes to release it this summer.

The collaboration overall sounds like a win-win: Hilton gets to release her EDM-leaning new record, and Cash Money benefits from being attached to more star power.

“[Her deal] being so talked about shows the strength of her popularity,” Birdman told the LA Times. “I’m very excited. I’m very appreciative that she’s part of the team. She’s very talented, and a beautiful young woman.”


™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

The food and the fun that define a glorious summer

— When the weather warms, there are plenty of fun outdoor activities to enjoy, which means there’s also a bounty of summer fare to eat. From the traditional to the intriguing, you never know what interesting food choices you may find while out and about. What better way to kick off summer than with a few fun activities that pair good times with the foods that define the season?

Try these ideas for fun and fantastic food to maximize your summer months:

  • The food truck scene

The fun: Summer is prime season for food trucks— this trendy, quick-dining option allows you to explore different flavors while on the move. Do a little online research to find out where your city’s best food trucks like to set up shop – they tend to frequent parks, gardens and even busy city blocks. Whether you grab the kids for some playground action or just want to spend your lunch hour relaxing outdoors, food trucks can be a big hit.

The food: If you think you’ll be limited to fries and burgers, you are mistaken. The sky is the limit when it comes to food truck cuisine. From spicy tacos, to authentic Italian dishes, to delicate crepes— favorite food trucks develop quite a following. Fear the spills of eating on the go? Pack a few “Tide to Go” stain erasers. These powerful, disposable pads are small enough to fit in your wallet or purse, and can quickly eliminate any unintended drips so you always look your best.

  • The beach and the boardwalk

The fun: If you’re lucky enough to live by the ocean or a lake or if you’re visiting one on vacation, the ultimate in summer fun is easily within reach. The sand, the sun and the water are some of the best parts of the summer months, so slather on some sunscreen, grab your towel and a few tunes, and head to the beach.

The food: Classic boardwalk food

Hot summer days at the beach call for cool, sweet treats. Hit up the boardwalk and you’re sure to find a variety of frosty concoctions. Sip on a colorful slushy or fruit smoothie. Lick your way through a creamy cone or refreshing frozen treat. You might even find frozen fruit kabobs, an icy treat packed with vitamins.

  • Festivals, fairs and fields

The fun: Big outdoor gatherings are great ways to spend a summer day. Whether you’re heading to see your favorite bands at an outdoor music festival, visiting the state fair to see the animal exhibits, or cheering on your favorite baseball team, you’ll find plenty of activities and memory-making potential.

The food: Festivals, fairs and ball fields are all known for good food – people not only need to stay fueled for these all-day events, they also want to indulge in a few special treats. So grab those salty fries, crispy corn dog, or sugar-dusted mini donuts – you only live once, right?

  • Picnics and barbecues

The fun: Whether impromptu or formally planned, picnics and barbecues with friends are a welcome part of summer. People of all ages enjoy socializing casually outdoors, playing classic yard games and of course, indulging in grilled delights. Planning a gathering? Have everyone bring an outdoor game or food to share to cut down on hosting hassles.

The food: The grill is the focal point of any picnic or outdoor party. Whether it’s ribs, chicken or brisket, saucy barbecue is the star of the show. Add some fresh grilled veggies and you have a meal that will be quickly devoured.

Summer fun paired with fantastic food is the perfect combination to create long-lasting memories. So get out and enjoy some of your city’s events, or call a few friends over for a patio party. Then Tweet to share the foods and fun activities you’re enjoying during the long, beautiful summer days.

HBCU sports roundup

— Welcome to another week of HBCU Round-Up. Here is the latest on HBCU sports:

University of the District of Columbia Firebirds: In track and field, the UDC Firebirds are set to compete in championship events in Colorado on May 23trd-25th. Shauna-Kay Creary and the 4x400M relay team of Kaydian Jones, Jerily Benjamin, Rochelle Nelson and Simone Grant, will represent the University of the District of Columbia at the 2013 NCAA Division II Women’s Track & Field Championships in Pueblo, CO. Creary and the Firebirds 4x400M relay team qualified for the championships by reaching the automatic and provisional standards established for each event.

Delaware State University Hornets: In golf, the first-year Delaware State University women’s golf team made a respectable showing in the inaugural PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship held at the PGA Golf Club May10 to May12, 2013. The Hornets were fourth among eight teams with a three round total of 968. Delaware State’s Aisha Peete shot a team-best 75 in the opening round. Nicole Rafer topped the team with day-two score of 79, while Mengxuan Gai had a final round score of 76 to lead the Hornets.

Coppin State University Eagles: The Mother’s Day event in women’s track and field saw some personal accomplishments: Christina Epps finished seventh in the triple jump on the final day of competition at the 2013 ECAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Weaver Stadium on the campus of Princeton University. Epps earned a seventh-place finish with a jump of 40-6.25, which ranks as her second-best jump during the outdoor season. The Eagles also received a 17th-place finish from Alexis Easterling in the triple jump as she posted a mark of 37-8.50. Deandra Daniel notched a ninth-place finish in the high jump. She finished in a tie for ninth place by clearing 5-7.25, which is her third-best mark of the outdoor season.

Morgan State Bears: The Morgan State women’s track and field team also competed over the weekend in the 30th ECAC Outdoor Track & Field championship at William Weaver Track & Field Stadium at Princeton University. The Lady Bears finished with two top five finishes in the event finals and scored a total of 14 points to tie Maine for 22nd. The University of Connecticut captured the meet title with 73 points, followed by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (53 points) and host Princeton (51.50), who placed second and third, respectively.

That’s a look at HBCU sports for this week. Please send any questions, comments, or HBCU sports and news to pdemps@btimes.com.

Class of 2013: Courage, Choice and Compassion

“Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are…for all the land that you see I will give to you.” —Genesis 13: 14-15

University commencement season is a time of high hopes and great celebration. I was again reminded of that when I delivered the commencement address at Huston-Tillotson (HT) University in Austin, Texas. This coming weekend, I will also speak during graduation ceremonies at Tuskegee University and Alcorn State.

Perhaps best known as the university where Jackie Robinson served as athletic director and basketball coach before he set out to break the color barrier in baseball, Huston-Tillotson is the oldest Historically Black College and University (HBCU) west of the Mississippi. For 137 years, it has opened doors of educational opportunity that might have otherwise been closed to many African American students. The enthusiasm and optimism I saw in the faces of this year’s HT graduates— and that I expect to see at Tuskegee and Alcorn— reaffirmed my belief that the future is indeed in good hands.

My message to the graduates was simply to make sure that in addition to emerging from college academically prepared, they should also embrace their obligation to pave the way for the next generation and leave this world better than they found it. I am all too aware that this is easier said than done. So, I also shared three key observations, or better yet life lessons, to help them navigate this next phase of their journey. I call them the three Cs: courage, choice and compassion.

The class of 2013 is graduating at a pivotal moment in American history. Fifty years ago, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his passionate dream that America live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all. That same year, four little black girls were killed by a terrorist bomb planted by the Ku Klux Klan at Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, and civil rights hero Medgar Evers was assassinated in the driveway of his home in Jackson, Mississippi. Now 50 years later, we have witnessed the second inauguration of the nation’s first black president. As I told the HT graduates we’ve come a long way baby, but we still have a long way to go.

While many of the legal impediments to equal opportunity have been eliminated over the past half-century, new challenges including voter suppression, criminal justice abuses, economic inequality and opposition to common sense gun safety legislation, have risen to take their place. All of these problems will require this generation of graduates to muster the kind of courage shown by people like Jackie Robinson, Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, and National Urban Leaguer Heman Sweatt, who fought the battle to integrate the University of Texas in 1950. They each found the courage and made the choice to devote themselves to a cause greater than themselves. They each demonstrated the kind of compassion required to act beyond individual interests and clear obstacle-laden paths so that those who followed could have better opportunities. The baton is now passing to a new generation, and I have no doubt they will rise to the challenge.

The National Urban League has always engaged young people in our empowerment movement. For more than 40 years, our Black Executive Exchange Program (BEEP) has been cultivating new leaders and inspiring achievement by enabling African American students to interface and network with African American business professionals to prepare for careers in corporate America. In addition, the National Urban League Young Professionals (NULYP) engages young professionals ages 21-40 in voluntarism and philanthropy to empower their communities and change lives.

Many of today’s HBCU graduates have been touched by those and similar efforts. We expect that they will use the blueprint of courage, choice and compassion summoned and shown by so many before them. We expect that they will pass it on and choose to serve.

Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League.

12-year-old golfer racks up titles, awards

— Kendell Abrams may one day be a household name

Kendell Abrams is “swinging” her way to the top. The twelve-year-old won the qualifier for the Callaway Jr. Golf World Championship at Glenn Dale Golf Course in Bowie, Maryland earlier this year. Kendell’s impressive victories also include a first place win in the 2012 Jimmy Flattery Jr. Golf Tournament. The victory marked the third time she has won the competition. She also won the event in 2010 and 2011.

Kendell also won a title at the US Kids Golf Tournament in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, and was also selected as “Player of the Year” for the US Kids Philadelphia North Spring Tour. With Kendell’s long list of impressive victories, it’s hard to believe that the talented golfer has only been playing for three years, and initially wasn’t interested in the sport.

“I thought golf was boring,” said Kendell. “But I saw my brother play and thought I could beat him and started playing golf. I did beat him.”

Kendell is referring to her older brother Khalil, who is also making his own mark in golf. Playing on his high school golf and tennis team, Khalil

recently participated in the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head, SC. He was one of 51 students selected around the country out of 200 First Tee chapters. The First Tee golf program reaches young people ages 5-18 through golf instruction and life skills lessons administered at chapters, military installations, and to students in elementary schools.

In 2010, Kendell and Khalil were selected as Junior Course Reporters for the PGA’s Champions Tour. The selection provided them with the opportunity to interview several distinguished golfers including Fred Couples and Tom Watson and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem.

Recently, Kendell and Khalil visited Capitol Hill for National Golf Day to discuss what golf means to them.

Kenny and Denise Abrams, are the proud parents of Kendell and Khalil. The couple are the owners of Abrams Insurance Company in Baltimore.

In July, Kendell will travel to San Diego to participate in the San Diego Junior World Golf Championship. The tournament provides an opportunity for junior golfers from all parts of the world to come together to play golf and share in cultural exchange.

Kendell has also been selected by the Tiger Woods Foundation to serve as a standard-bearer at the AT&T National Golf Tournament at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD this summer. Tiger Woods will be playing in the event.

“I like Tiger Woods a lot,” said Kendell. “When I see him at the tournament, I don’t know what I am going to say to him.”

Kendell attends Southern Middle School in Pennsylvania, and is also a member of First Tee Baltimore and the Clifton Park Junior Golf Program in Baltimore. She also caddies at several local golf courses, plays basketball, and runs cross-country.

“I really enjoy being a golf caddy,” said Kendell. “People get to know me, and it prepares me for tournaments.”

She added, “Golfing is like an adventure. It’s a long journey, but it gets better and better. I like competing because it’s a great way to meet a lot of people and network.”

In addition to golf, Kendell plays the cello, consistently makes the Honor Roll, and was a 2012 Carson Scholar.

“I always find time to get things done and study,” said Kendell. “I usually try to get out on the golf course to practice at least three times a week and I always study. I see myself going pretty far because I am a hard worker. I also don’t mind trying over and over again.”

Kendell shared the advice she often gives to young, aspiring golfers.

“I always tell kids to never give up,” she said. “I also tell them they can’t have a bad attitude, and they have to practice a lot.”

Remember the name Kendell Abrams. At the rate she’s going at such a young age, she could one day become a household name.