Page 1

Volume 1

Number 3

Jan/Feb 2018

All Hands On Deck with Mayor Catherine Pugh...3

I Dream A Baltimore...4


January/February 2018

PUBLISHER Rosalind J. Harris



I D ream a Baltimore’



GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jody Gilbert Kolor Graphix



The Baltimore Urban Spectrum is a bi-monthly online publication dedicated to spreading the news about people of color in Baltimore and surrounding communities. Contents of the Baltimore Urban Spectrum are copyright 2018 by Bizzy Bee Enterprise. No portion may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. The Baltimore Urban Spectrum welcomes all letters, but reserves the right to edit for spa ce, libelous material, grammar, and length. All letters must include name, address, and phone number. We will withhold author’s name on request. Unsolicited articles are accepted without guarantee of publication or payment. Write to the Baltimore Urban Spectrum c/o Denver Urban Spectrum at P.O. Box 31001, Aurora, CO 80041. For advertising, subscriptions, or other information, call 303-292-6446 or fax 303-292-6543 or visit the Web site at or

All Hands On Deck

Mayor Catherine Pugh is known to many in PennNorth, and surrounding communities, as Queen B. Even the hustlers and pushers put on their best behavior, if only for a moment, whenever they see the stretched black SUV roll through the block. It’s not the Narcs; it’s the Mayor making her rounds, checking the vitals of the community. It’s a routine she’s established since she took office. So when she emerges from the back seat of the last truck in the motorcade, she’s met with much love and respect. Maybe it’s because she’s out there regularly canvassing neighborhoods on listening tours with community leaders like Shantay Jeckson Guy, executive director of the Baltimore Community Mediation Center, and Dante’ Barksdale and James Timpson, community liaisons for Safe Streets. ” Primarily funded by the Baltimore Health Department, Safe Streets is an outreach initiative being implemented in some of Baltimore’s high crime areas to restore safety and strengthen community bonds. After business hours and on weekends you can find Madame Mayor out and about with Safe Streets outreach workers connecting with high-risk youth and young adults, and interviewing individuals sleeping in tents with a street team of homeless outreach workers, getting feedback for making systematic changes. “This violence is out of control, and we’re intensely working – chipping away a little a day at a time,” said the mayor at her Call to Action meeting January 6. “‘When I talk to the young people in the community I tell them, ‘I just want you to stop what you’re doing, so I can help you out.’ But on the other hand, we have to change the way we do government. We can’t do this work effectively from nine to five.” According to the Mayor Pugh, it’s going to take years of unpaid overtime to transform the city. With her leadership comes a light that hasn’t shined on Baltimore in a long time. A light of accountability— to city agencies who pass the buck when faced with challenges to solve problems in communities and neighborhoods that staff is not empowered or equipped to mitigate.

With her leadership comes a light of compassion that would compel the harshest critics to put some “respect on her name.” With Mayor Pugh’s leadership comes a light that draws the city’s grassroots organizers, philanthropic partners, and local agencies to the board room of City Hall, every two weeks, to answer her Call to Action—the first initiative of its kind in Baltimore-where citizens are included in conversations about systemic changes. And the people are empowered to rise above individual differences, and personal agendas, in unity to make a collective impact. It is an allhands-on-deck approach to (1) reducing crime; (2) restoring integrity and making space for equity in our schools; (3) dispatching resources to assist our city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods and marginalized populations with viable pathways to sustained development and employment; and (4) cultivating relationships between the people with the big bucks and the people who are – have been, and always will be – on the front lines of our city’s challenges, fighting for solutions that will address the unrest and decay that has seemingly settled on this city. “Relationships are the call to action,” said Mayor Pugh at another Call to Action meeting held this month. “We can’t ask people to put the drugs and the guns down without offering them something to replace them with, or else the cycle continues.” It’s this kind of leadership that is cultivating tribes of transformational change makers throughout the city. And unsurprisingly, Black women everywhere are experiencing an awakening that is sending shock waves of healing through the spirit of all humanity. This month, we talk to L. Nef’fehtiti Partlow-Myrick, about her dream for Baltimore, and her role on the planet as a Black woman and spiritual advocate at such a time as this. I hope the stories in this issue will empower you to answer the call to action in your own life. Until next time...Live more. Love more. Be More.

Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


Tiffany C. Ginyard Editor Baltimore Urban Spectrum

I Dream A Baltimore

What’s your dream for Baltimore, and what do you believe it will take to see that dream realized?

What are you committed to doing as an individual citizen “My dream for Baltimore is to

get all the rec centers in different neighborhoods back running so children to have something to do besides going to the corner. Also, I would love to see more officers in neighborhoods, including mine, because that’s all our kids see are drug boys or different gangs taking over the neighborhoods. “I also dream that everyone will come together as a community to make it a cleaner and healthier place to live. In order for this dream to come alive we all have to stick together not us blacks, but all races. “I try my best in the community especially during the summer time with running a summer program to teach children entrepreneurship community service like cleaning up the neighborhood—and not just the ones that they live in. I also try to extend my hand with different activities

to make the dream work?

changes things. I believe if all pastors and churches would come from behind the walls and come together we can make a difference. I believe that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, Rosa Parks and the others didn’t just fight and stand up for themselves, they stood for what was right. “I don’t believe Jesus died on that cross for us to live foolishly. I don’t believe Jesus intended for us to suffer like dogs. So, what do we do? Pray and move forward in faith.” Min. Debora Berry Outreach Chaplain East Baltimore City Police Department

after school throughout the year as well as tutoring.” Sade Spears, 29 Dundalk


y dream for Baltimore is better schools for our youth and recreation centers for our children to have a safe place to play. Maybe the crime would stop if there were more jobs. Adults as well as the young people need jobs. The homeless need warm beds, hot meals, and showers. They need to know that there are people out here who care for them, and not just during the holidays but every day. “The things I do to help? I feed the homeless from my own kitchen. I get on the bus and ride around looking for somebody to feed. I love serving the children— bringing smiles not just to their faces but in their hearts. It’s a great joy when you give back. I’m a prayer warrior, and I believe prayer


ost Baltimoreans realize we are in the midst of a great transformation, dangling over the precipice of something awesome and terrifying; triumphant and tragic; miraculous and disastrous. The collective destiny of our city is truly in our hands.

Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


“Therefore, my dream for Baltimore in 2018 is the manifestation of every GOOD dream anyone holds for our city. Truth be told, if enough people get absolutely intentional and resolute and conscious—if enough of us get woke and stay woke—we can transform this city over night. And what a beautiful thing that will be; what a demonstration for the world.” L. Nef’fahtiti Partlow-Myrick Artist, poet-writer, educator, spiritual activist


vision as mom, as a Baltimorean, as a Black woman, as a wife, as a daughter, as a sister, as all those things is really for a peaceful Baltimore that allows for and accepts all of the differences that make us unique and use those differences to drive us to a place where we aren’t having conversations about racial equity because it already exists; we aren’t

having a conversation about what quality education looks like because it already exists; where we aren’t having conversations about what adequate housing looks like because it already exists; where we have been able to systematically dismantle all of the systemic racism that has gotten us to where we are. “When we’re able to systematically change things, ‘Systematic change is what I’m focused on these days. Everybody’s been like “fix it now, fix it now.” [The issues we’re facing] are almost a century now in the making. People keep talking decades, [but] it’s almost now a century in the making, where we keep talking about ‘you need to do this now’ and “why are you just working on this? You need to do this now!” And I’m like, can we really talk about—incrementally— how we get there. Because in my opinion, you’re not going to be able to truly measure success of anything you’re looking at for at least five to ten years.” Shantay Jackson Guy Executive Director Baltimore Community Mediation enter

“My dream right now is for the

city to become a safe place where our young African American males can actually thrive and have something to look forward to other than what they have seen every day growing up in their lives. That’s my now dream and that would be my long term dream. “A lot of the times we’re blaming kids in these communities for doing

Smallwood Street); a job training and rehabilitation center (at the closed down school of the West Side Elementary School); and a new football/athletic field for George Washington Carver Vocational Technical Senior High School. “What I have already committed to do as an individual to make the dream work is that I am the chief executive officer of the Matthew Henson Community Development Corporation (which built the “McKean Miracle” - Easterwood/Sandtown Park n’ Playground in the 1500 block of N. McKeanleader) and I have just been elected for a fourth different time to serve as president of the Matthew A. Henson Neighborhood Association, one of the most aggressive and progressive community associations in this city and state.” Dr. Marvin L. ‘Doc’ Cheatham, Sr. Civil rights leader and election law consultant

the things they doing, and we do not understand the root of where it’s coming from. It’s coming from the lives that they’ve lived and the things they’ve seen growing up in their lives. It’s not all time where we are all are fortunate to make it out and all unfortunate to see other things. So the reality of it is that a lot of what we’re seeing is our kids are imitating and modeling the behavior that they’ve seen their whole lives. “So I think it’s going to take for us to really get to the root some of these problems, and the root of some of these issues, and stop pointing the finger so much. Like building a new juvenile justice center is not going to solve the problem. Locking these kids up is not what’s going to solve the problem. We’ve got to get to the root of the some of the real issues and address those, that way we can really see a change.” James A Timpson Outreach Liaison, Safe Streets


“My dream for Baltimore City

y dream for Baltimore is to see a new banner in Baltimore City’s food environment change: a sincere effort by all members of the Baltimore community that is led by Black people and overtly asserts an anti-racism organizing approach. This will mean that we change the leadership in the local movement and predominantly white women cannot be the face of “fixing” a problem in Black communities (in a city that is predominantly Black in the first place). “My dream will change how we define and solve problems for Black people. I intend to shift the discourse about how Baltimore sees and solves its food challenge. In order to do this, a shift is required in how and who defines healthy food; addressing

is very prejudicial due to documented decades of neglect by Baltimore City of the Easterwood/Sandtown communities, in general, and the Matthew Henson Neighborhood, in specific, in which I reside and grew up. “What it will take for my dreams to be realized is for the federal, state and city officials to see, read, and hear and then bring to fruition, in the next few years, the documented necessities of our community laid-out in our September 2017 Charrette which are: food markets (1500 blocks of N. Monroe & Monroe Streets); a health & mental clinic and pharmacy (18001900 blocks W. North Ave. & Fulton Ave.); a senior/community action center (vacant lot of 1600 Bentalou &

racism and its manifestations through power building rather than merely access to “food”; and changing support mechanism that assist Black people in solving a Black problem. “I am the servant director of, Black Yield Institute, and entity dedicated setting a general direction toward black food sovereignty in Baltimore. We are pursuing an interdependent network of Black peoples and entities (People of African Descent) in leading efforts to control food. This entails a multi-tiered approach to independent power building, requiring some support from governmental and quasigovernmental agencies through policy/program. Black Yield Institute is committed a holistic movement – including initiatives and programs in social/cultural, political, spiritual/psychological, and economic Pathways—in the pursuit of Black Food Sovereignty. This is the necessary path toward shortening the health, food access and other gaps between Black/African peoples and others in Baltimore. “Independence will not be obtained without power. Eric Jacksom, Jr.

“I’m hoping to see Harlem Park

West to start seeing some redevelopment in that particular community. It seems that the rich history and the holes, where houses, entire neighborhoods, once stood—that space is sitting going to waist. Not only in Harlem Park West, but in other communities I am working for. Redevelopment has to start now. “My dream is be a part of a movement that is dedicated to bringing the city back to life.” Ronald Bailey Founder, Operation Safe & Clean

On January 8, grassroots organizers, philanthropic partners, and directors of city agencies gathered in the 2nd floot board room of City Hall for a regular call to action meeting to discuss updates and progress on the restorative efforts and happenings taking place around the Baltimore. Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


Moving Forward After Rock Bottom

“I even had ‘friends’ in my ear telling me to just go to Wal-Mart and get a job and stop trying to act like I am special.”

In July 2010, I graduated with a

By Angela Gustus

master’s in public administration through a fellowship program with the National Urban Fellows in New York City. Armed with 15 years of experience and a MPA, I began my job

hunt back home here in Baltimore. To my surprise, nothing seemed to work. I spent countless hours doing everything the “experts” in job hunting tell you. Have a stellar cover letter and resume specific to each position applied for, do follow up phone calls, and send thank you notes after interviews. Because I am a nerd, I even had a spreadsheet that tracked all of this. I applied for literally 101 jobs, had six interviews, and five grueling months of job hunting. During those five months, life hit rock bottom. The only reason I had a roof over my head was because I had

a friend who owned a few rental properties and let me and my son move into a small, mouse-infested, one-bedroom apartment on a promise to pay my rent once I got a job. That two-month agreement turned into five months with a lot of begging and persuasion. My car was repossessed (not repo like I got it back, repo like come get your tags and your belongings). My little bit of savings had been depleted within my first month of unemployment. I had to apply for food stamps and medical assistance just to make it. My son’s father and I were in the midst of a huge court drama. My mother had a stroke leaving her unable to live without the assistance of a nursing facility. Needless to say, life got really ugly really fast. Even within this downward spiral, I was able to hold on to my dream. I had spent time a few years prior dreaming about what I wanted my future to look like. I put pen to paper in the form of a drawn vision board. I kept focused on that dream, even when “friends” told me it was a pipe dream. Even when people judged me for having a learning disability, I simply remained focused on my vision. My dream consisted of running a multi-million dollar business, teaching, being a published author, consulting, and being Dr. Gustus. I wanted to do this all before my mid-40s. At 35, unemployed and on the verge of homelessness, things were starting to look a little grim. I even had “friends” in my ear telling me to just go to WalMart and get a job and stop trying to act like I am special. There was something deep on the inside telling me that I am special and that everything was going to be fine. I’m not that anything is wrong with working at Walmart, but I knew that I did not have these degrees and experience to be a cashier. January 12, 2011 was the beginning of it all. I started working for the State of Maryland and have not turned back since. Without a car, I had no idea how everything was going to work,

MLK Wanted You To Be Economically Free At Last By PushBlack

There’s no doubt that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a profound impact on the lives of Black people in the U.S. and abroad. While most of us are familiar with his speeches and his leadership during the civil rights era, much of his good work has gone under the radar. As Black people in the U.S. and around the world fight to “have a seat at the table,” we are constantly seeking ways we can empower ourselves. Dr. King knew that one route to power was through economic empowerment. In the final years of his life, King turned his sight to economic development in the Black community. He understood the importance of establishing and supporting Black businesses. He taught us that “Love without power is sentimental and anemic.” There is power in the dollar. The famous March on Washington’s full name was The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march came with a list of demands: •A federal program to train and place unemployed people for jobs at decent wages •A national minimum wage •Broaden the Fair Labor Standards Act •Barring discrimination in the Fair Employment Practices Act The Birmingham Campaign in 1963 was more than infamous im ages of police siccing dogs on protesters. It was about creating equal employment in stores in downtown Birmingham. The campaign lasted one month and, by the end, activists forced the city to change the laws regarding employment discrimination in Birmingham. During the Chicago Campaign, King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference took their energy north to focus on housing segregation. They also demanded bankers end segregation in mortgage lending. Dr. King was a part of several other movements that focused on economics. Operation Breadbasket sought to expand employment to Blacks. The Poor People’s Campaign looked for a way to change the structures that created poverty. In King’s speech, “Where Do We Go From Here,” he said “love without power is sentimental and anemic,” alluding to economic power. Dr. King believed we should invest in ourselves. Therefore, his speeches should not be used as casual platitudes but as an inspiration for us to improve Black communities with the Black dollar. .

Editor’s note: PushBlack Now provides daily inspiring Black history. For more information, visit

Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


but my Heavenly Father worked it all out. There was a bus stop three blocks from my house. The bus drove right past my son’s school, and then proceeded to drop me off across the street from my new office. The first day of orientation, sitting there with a small packed lunch and about $12 to my name, trying to figure out how I was going to get back and forth to work until my first pay check, February 2, 2011 I heard the man leading orientation share with us that as state employees we ride public transportation for free. We just had to show our State Employee ID, which we were getting later that afternoon. If I was in church, I would have broken into a praise dance. Just over six months later, I was able to catch up on my rent, move to a two-bedroom apartment, and buy a little car to get around in. Another year later, my partner and I moved in together and purchased our first home. I also got a promotion to a director position within state government. After a few more years, I was hired as an executive director of a multi-million dollar agency. Today, I now teach Research Methods at a major university (I told you I was a nerd), I have started my consulting business, (CMAG & Associates, LLC) I have published two books (and I have almost finished the third), and I just got my acceptance letter to start my doctorate in 2018. I am not sharing this to brag, I am sharing this as a story of encouragement. No matter where you are in life, take time out to dream; put that dream on paper; and most importantly, keep your dream in front of you. Stay focused, work hard, and don’t listen to those “friends” that try to crap on your dreams. Oh, and I forgot to mention, I still have a few more years before my “mid 40s”. Let’s see what else is in store! . Editor’s note: Angela Gustus is the executive director of Human Services Programs of Carroll County, Inc. Her book entitled, “Chip” is available at

Partial, Patriot, or Both?

Op-ed by Jerome King

I hope this reaches the eyes of

someone who really has the willingness to wrap their mind around what I’m about to say. For whatever reason, the people have found fault with those kneeling at the playing of the National Anthem miss the point that these are our wounded fellow Americans. Some of whom have served just as proudly and love America (our home) just as much as you do. I am a Vietnam veteran. I proudly served my country from February 1972 to October 1982. Forty years ago. I was a facilitator for a military human resources program called UPWARD, Understanding Personal Worth And Racial Dignity. The operative word in that title for me is understanding. We can’t be so quick to condemn unless

we try to understand the other person’s pain, problems, and joys. The act of condemnation is standing still. The act of learning is moving ahead. We should not castigate others. We must educate ourselves for a better, brighter today and tomorrow. The kneeling is no more than a silent respectful scream of pain from our brethren that we have issues here in our great country that need to be addressed. For whatever reasons, some of us are being hobbled by the system. Imagine if our founding fathers (patriots) who stopped following the English monarchy had just continued to say “hail to the Queen” and never once said an adverse word. Let alone tear up life, limb, and countryside to free themselves and families from whatever tyrannies and taxes England was using to oppress them. America would not exist today. If a baby cries would you rather fault the baby’s loud crying than address the fact that he may be hungry, soiled or worse? Addressing the reason for the tears is what makes us good parents and stewards of our children. Please, at some point in your anger, stop and ask yourselves why you are kneeling? Is this not my neighbor, my coworker, my brother, my sister, my friend? I knew when Colin Kaepernick kneeled his career was over. Maybe he knew as well. What I am not sure of is if he was aware of the bigger impact it would have. I do remember getting a sense of American pride from his action. His courage immediately made him my favorite football entity. He expressed bravery in a country that makes the ultimate promise for its citizen: freedom of expression, fair life, and the pursuit of happiness. Much like George Washington, who bravely stood in the front of a boat crossing the Delaware River, in spite of a losing war effort. Much like Rosa Parks bravely refusing to move to the back of the bus, in spite of the Jim Crow “laws” in place. Much like Tommie

Smith and John Carlos who bravely raised their fist in the 1968 Olympics 50 years ago. My goodness how much progress have we not made. Many years ago, our recently departed Dick Gregory said if you own a dog that is biting me then you may not be in a hurry to do anything about that dog. But as soon as that dog turns around and starts biting you then “we” have a problem. I “Let’s Make America Great Again means returning to those days when the dog is biting only me then I need to take a knee as well. If our Native American brothers start saying, “Let’s make America great again.” it will take on a whole new meaning for everyone concerned. I am not ready to go back to that time either. By the way, when was the last time America was great for you? Last week? Last year? Two decades ago? Talk about non-specifics. When is your again? I am French, Native American, Irish, and African. That makes me the discoverer the discoverer, the volunteer ocean crosser, and the distinguishingly dragged over. Point is I refuse to hate any part of that mixture. I was raised by parents who didn’t see color as a stumbling block. If they did, not once was it passed on to me. That

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

January 15, 2018

Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


is how you make a great America. You see, I love me. I love being choice “D. All of the above.” For without that, there is no me. I also want you to love you and whatever it took to make you. If we don’t love ourselves, and each other, we are doomed to continue down a very ugly trail. For those of us that understand this, it is our duty to enlighten the others. So for me, it is not racial in nature. It is about being part, partial, and patriot to a grand and beautiful country. I don’t want to stand alone in my feelings for this wonderful place we call home, but if I must kneel to be heard praying for a better place then so be it. For after all, kneeling is an act of submission to a greater power in hopes of a better outcome for all. The way I understand it, America wasn’t created on the divisive speech of its citizens but common beliefs, dreams, and concerns. Please, my dear USA, look at your fellow citizens and try to understand the whys of their actions. Find our mutual and shared interests. Learn and appreciate the non-similarities that make us individuals contributing to a grander future for our children and children’s children. . Editor’s note: Jerome V. King is a USN veteran, patriot, average citizens.

Mayor Pugh Launches Surplus Schools Website to Facilitate Building Reuse

As part of the Baltimore City Public Schools’ (BCPS) annual portfolio review, the Board is proposing to surplus three school buildings in 2018: Rognel Heights Elementary, Westside Elementary, and Patapsco Elementary. Surplusing means they will return to the owner of the site, the City of Baltimore, for a new use. The City is seeking expressions of interest for these sites, and other surplus schools. The goal is to make these buildings to become assets that can transform their communities.

Across the United States, cities and towns of all sizes face the prospect of closing school facilities. Between 1995 and 2012, an average of 1,630 schools closed per year. The closure of so many schools in Baltimore is a product of population decline. Total school enrollment in Baltimore peaked in the 1960’s at 200,000 and today is around 81,000. While school closures can pose daunting challenges to find productive reuses for closed facilities, they can also provide exciting redevelop-

Under the 21st Century Schools Initiative, City Schools will leverage nearly $1 billion to renovate and modernize public school buildings in Baltimore. This summer, City Schools opened two new schools — Fort Worthington Elementary/Middle and Frederick Elementary. As part of this modernization plan, however, BCPS must right size its capacity and surplus 26 school buildings over a 10year period. The City has created a website, to provide community stakeholders, potential buyers, tenants, and other interested parties with information about each of the available school sites and to facilitate their reuse. The website will serve as a clearinghouse for community stakeholder engagement. Developers, individuals or organizations are invited to submit an expression of interest through the website.

Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


ment opportunities for the property and surrounding area. “These sites provide large-scale opportunities for new land uses that can help transform neighborhoods, particularly if the new uses can catalyze additional investment in the nearby area. We are looking forward to partnering with the community stakeholders to identify desirable reuses for these spaces and with the private sector to bring exciting new opportunities to these buildings and these communities,” said Mayor Pugh. .

Love & Leadership

A Conversation with Spiritual Advocate L. Nef’fehtiti Partlow-Myrick By Tiffany Christina

These days, Black women in

Baltimore are crystal clear about two things: our love and our leadership. What we’re up to now is how to sync this ferocious feminine energy into something that will transform or city from the inside out. This month, BUS checks in with a leading lady in Baltimore’s spiritual community who is transforming Baltimore through their life work as an interfaith minister, college educator, and licensed Conscious Life Design Systems practitioner, who serves, works, plays and participates in exciting spiritual communities and consciousness-based programs in Baltimore and throughout the world. Partlow-Myrick is a visual artist, poet, writer, educator and spiritual activist whose works explore spirituality, cultural and gender identity. She has written and directed productions for the stage, including the drama The Conjure Woman Episode, her one-woman show The Dance We Do When We Be Sistas!, the The Poetry Show, and a series of spoken word and jazzoetry performances in collaboration with artists around the world. Her visual art works have been exhibited in group shows, at the Atlanta Arts Festival, and most recently in Passager. She has been a featured artist at festivals, colleges, and concert halls throughout the U.S. Her work is also featured in the award-winning video documentary Mbele Ache and the CSN-TV special Voices of Our Past. Her writings have been published in anthologies and journals, including “Thy Mothers’ Glass,” “Dancing Shadow Review,” “Poetry Baltimore,” “When Divas Laugh,” and most recently “ittle Patuxent Review.” She has developed and facilitated numerous life skills-building workshops for diverse populations of youth and adults and is actively involved in

BUS: In our conversations and work together, you often refer to the different groups you belong to as tribes. Can you speak to this verbiage in relation to your perspective of community and the role of the individual? PM: I’m blessed to be a part of many diverse groups/communities of people from around the planet that I call my tribes, because they are just that, in the truest sense of that word. The people in my tribes comprise a close community of individuals who have bonded through certain experiences; we share the same values and are committed to sustaining our relationships, typically via annual/biannual gatherings. “In my tribes, every individual has the freedom of showing up as s/he is; which I love. My tribes are sacred spaces in which I can be totally myself. In addition to my paternal and maternal familial tribes, I belong to 6 other tribes of people of different races, ages, and backgrounds. One of those tribes is my Western High tribe of girlfriends from Baltimore who I’ve known for almost 50 years now. How about that?!

global walks for world peace as an original member of The Trail of Dreams. Lenett was named one of Howard Community College’s inspiring adjunct faculty members for 2013-2014.

BUS: What do you believe your role is on the planet? In Baltimore? PM: I believe my role on the planet and in Baltimore right now is to be a loving, creative contribution via who I am being and the work I do as an artist, writer, spiritual activist, minister, college educator, and licensed Conscious Life Design Systems facilitator. BUS: To what extent, if any, do you believe your femininity influences your role? PM: My femininity and my role on the planet right now are inseparable. Who I am as a feminine being is intricately woven into all that I do, in all my expressions. My femininity is one of the things that distinguishes my work, especially my visual art work and writings.

BUS: What are words you use to describe yourself? PM: Artistic, compassionate, fun, authentic, insightful

BUS: What was girlhood like living/growing up in Baltimore? PM: It was wonderful. I spent my formative years in Cherry Hill during the late 50s and most of the 60s, when it was a magical Never Never Land for a child. It was relatively safe in the city, too. I remember riding street cars, taking buses to visit relatives, and having all kinds of fun-magical experiences around town—too many to

BUS: Could you speak to a few of those? PM: Artistic—I think that’s obvious for anyone who knows. That’s just who I be. I believe in showing up as I am, warts and all. And I know that I hold deep compassion for all.

Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


recount here. I absolutely love this city, even with all its problems and dysfunction.

BUS: What, if anything, about growing up in Baltimore has shaped your life work? PM: The very provincial nature of this town has greatly inspired my work as an artist, writer, and spiritual activist. Living here has taught me the importance of accepting and allowing all people their individual and collective expressions, from Pookey and ‘em on the corner of Penn & Gold to the hippies of Charles Village. Living here has taught me the value of paying attention to the details of colors, textures, sounds, smells—Old Bay seasoning, the funk of Harbor water, train whistles intermingled with the cry of A-rab venders—I could go on and on.

BUS: How do your other gifts and callings (i.e. teaching, art, writing, etc.) contribute to your power as a spiritual activist? PM: Like I said before, these different expressions of my being are all interwoven. I’m simultaneously being a spiritual activist when I teach; begin a writer when I am creating art; being a performance artist when I’m ministering. No part of what I do is compartmentalized or separate from the other part. In other words, whenever I show up, I bring all of what and who I am. BUS: What are the cornerstones of transformational leadership? PM: For me, those cornerstones are authenticity, total honesty, integrity, consistency, community, commitment, and LOVE.

BUS: How do these ideas transfer into the context of effecting change in communities Baltimore? PM: In order to stand in an intention for transformation for the greatest good of all, those aforementioned cornerstones are imperative. You have to SHOW UP and be the change you want. Period..


marosa Manigault Newman, who has resigned under duress from her public liaison job at the White House, is leaving true to form - amidst a cloud of controversy and with sparks flying. The White House has confirmed her resignation effective Jan. 20. The official White House reason was that she is leaving to pursue “other opportunities.” “Thank you Omarosa for your service! I wish you continued success,” says a Dec. 13 tweet from President Donald Trump, who had handpicked Manigault Newman - best known for her first name only. A personal friend of Trump’s, they have known each other 14 years since her national television debut on his reality show, “The Apprentice.” But the full circumstances surrounding Omarosa’s departure remain cloudy at best amidst numerous reports that she was actually fired or forced to resign amidst cursing and a heated confrontation with Trump’s Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly. She has only conceded that there was a tense conversation with Kelly in the White House Situation Room. Since his arrival last July, Kelly had limited her access to the Oval Office, where she initially had the freedom to come and go. On ABC, the only media outlet that has interviewed her since the resignation, the clearly angry Omarosa said reports that she was fired are “a hundred percent false.” But, then she added, “But when I have a chance to tell my story to tell quite a story - as the only AfricanAmerican woman in this White House, as a senior staff and assistant to the president, I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people and when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear,” she said, leaving an obvious cliffhanger. Omarosa was reached to obtain responses on issues raised in this article, but she declined comment due to the fact that she is still a White House employee until Jan. 20. She was only allowed the interviews with ABC News.

Black Republicans say Omarosa blocked them from jobs.

Meanwhile, Black Republicans claim Omarosa blocked them from jobs in order to maintain her status as the “only African-American woman... senior staff and assistant to the president” as she described herself on ABC.

Omarosa’s Final Days at White House Full of Controversy, Accusations Some say she blocked qualified Black applicants; others say that’s not possible NNPA president says she may have been fighting for diversity

need and wherever we wanted to go into government and to shoot our resumes over to her and she gave us her official transition email. She said this administration has a goal of having 25 percent minority hiring. They wanted 25 percent of the work force to be Black and Hispanic...So she positioned herself as the end all be all for Black things; for Black people in the administration,” Craig said. Ayshia Connors, a former deputy director of AfricanAmerican engagement at the Republican National Committee, now a senior advisor to Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), agrees. She describes an initiative by The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and Insight America, an organization headed by former Republican Congressman J. C. Watts: “There were hundreds, probably thousands of resumes of qualified individuals in the Black community that were ready and prepared to go into any administration no matter who won the election. And when President Trump got elected, all of those names were submitted and Omarosa literally trashed those names. Nobody got a call back. Nobody got an interview.

By Hazel Trice Edney

Her actual White House title has been assistant to the president and director of communications in the White House Office of Public Liaison. But her actual job description appears not to have been clearly defined. In interviews with the Trice Edney News Wire Black Republicans blame her for blocking Black job applicants from the Trump administration including Republican stalwart Kay Coles James, who was appointed Dec. 19 as the first African-American and first woman president of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “I was blocked personally. Essentially, my file was pulled and I wasn’t deemed pro-Trump enough,” says Eugene Craig. “The official excuse was that I wasn’t proTrump enough although I was the sitting chair of the Maryland Republican Party.”

Sources said because of President Trump’s need for loyalty, that attribute loyalty - was among the top considerations for key White House positions. Craig admits that he was a “never Trumper all the way”, but that was during the campaign. Craig says he noticed that when the time came for consideration for jobs and the broad banner of Republicanism, White never-Trumpers were given consideration where African-Americans were not. “The flood gates were opened, but Omarosa held all of us to a different standard. She had say over a lot of the Black resumes. I know for a fact from promises that she made us directly.” Craig says a January conference call with the Republican National Committee and Trump transition team was held “specifically for AfricanAmerican activists and party loyalists.” He said, “During the middle of the call, she jumped on and bogarted on. And she came in and she made us these promises that this would be the most diverse administration in history. And she’ll help us with whatever we

Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


Elroy Sailor of Insight America and Spencer Overton of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies listen to now HUD Secretary Ben Carson on a panel. Insight America and the Joint Center worked together to in attempt to get bi-partisan resumes of African-Americans to the Trump Administration. Sources said most were blocked. PHOTO:

Nobody was ever heard about again. People tried to go in. People were eager and willing to serve the President, willing to serve our country. But Omarosa, she didn’t want other Black Republicans there. She wanted to be the big shot. She wanted to be the only one. And so, everybody kind of just decided it wasn’t worth our times to keep dealing with it. And so, by February, people had just moved on from Omarosa and dealing with the White House and decided to start working with Congress and dealing some other policy matters.” Connors added that Kay Coles James, former Virginia Secretary of Health and

Human Resources under Virginia Republican Gov. George Allen and director for the United States Office of Personnel Management under President George W. Bush, received the same treatment. “She was willing and prepared to go back into the government and to help the administration. But Omarosa was such a distraction and created so much drama and confusion that Ms. James just decided not to engage it anymore. So that’s what ended up happening. That’s why you only saw Omarosa as a senior Black Republican in the White House.” In a brief interview with James upon her appointment as president of the Heritage Foundation, James was clear about why she did not go to work in the Trump White House. “When Donald Trump said that he wanted to improve the urban areas and that he wanted to make the lives of minorities in this country better, I said, wow, if he wants to do that, I genuinely want to be a part of that and I was excited and hopeful the opportunity to come in,” she said. “But that opportunity never really afforded itself. I am told that I was blocked...I don’t have specifics about how that happened, but I was extremely disappointed that I didn’t have the opportunity to serve there.” Connors said the clearest evidence that Omarosa was not going to work with other Black Republicans came in February when Omarosa was in charge of pulling together the Black History Month program for President Trump. “During Black History Month, these credible Republicans such as Kay Coles James and J. C. Watts and Elroy Sailor, they tried to engage Omarosa.” Instead, Omarosa put an event together that included her personal picks of AfricanAmericans, including Black Democrats, Connors said. “She didn’t invite any of the prominent Black Republicans. In fact, we had folks calling us from the White House calling and saying, ‘Why aren’t your names on the list for this event?’ It was very evident from the beginning that she wasn’t going to work with us and that she was just going to do her own thing.” Connors cited another event for Vice President Pence that was planned by Black Republicans to be held at West Point. “That was another example of Omarosa using her position in the White House to block that event as well. And that was actually the turning point for Black Republicans. We decided she was just too distracting too disruptive and we decided to focus our efforts elsewhere.” On the record sources willing to speak in defense of Omarosa were dif-

ficult to find. But, high placed Republican sources say it is not possible that Omarosa could have made such powerful decisions without oversight in the White House - most likely the President himself. Other high Republican sources said James was offered positions, but Omarosa fought against any Black staff appointment that would be above her own. Yet another rationale for why some Black Republicans seeking employment were rejected may have been because they had left the Republican National Committee Headquarters in protest against treatment by then RNC Chairman Reince Priebus nearing the end of the presidential campaign. Priebus then became President Trump’s first chief of staff and was likely averse to hiring the same staffers who had left the RNC, one source said. Christopher Metzler, an active member of the Black GOP Coalition, who has long worked Republican policy and strategy, had one answer when asked why there were no long time Black Republicans hired as White House staff. “It’s very simple. Omarosa,” he said. “Somebody like Kay [Coles James] who could serve as a whisperer in the President’s ear like a Condoleezza Rice; like a Valerie Jarrett, was never given that opportunity. There was a lot of back and forth pertaining to that. And Kay said, “Well, it is not going to serve the President well for me to try to cut through this thicket. And as a result of that, she did not push it any further.” Metzler concluded, “All of these things were blocked by Omarosa. At the end of the day, Omarosa is first and foremost a Democrat. She is not a conservative. She is not a Republican. She never has been. She is simply an opportunist. And that’s where we ended up.”

her departure from the White House is two-fold. First, as it pertains to those Black Republicans who felt that they earned a position due to their loyalty to Black Republicans, “diversity does not equal representation of the Black community,” he said. “That’s one of the fallacies...Trump’s agenda is a negative agenda. Fact number one is the way he dogged President Obama, the way he talked badly about Mexicans, etc. Why would anybody want to associate with that administration in the first place?”

hold a candle to some of the Black Republicans who - instead of following the party line - stood for justice when it was needed most. “The brand of Republicanism that we have now is extremely out of step with the vast majority of Black people and the mainstream of Black aspirations and Black policy and the concepts of Black policy prescriptions.” Because of his working with Omarosa and his affinity for projects that she led for Haiti and for children in the U. S., Daniels now sees what he

Omarosa (fifth from left) among this media delegation in Haiti, was a celebrity ambassador for IBW's Haiti Support Project in 2010. IBW President Ron Daniels, in cap behind her, says she has since rejected his advice to her about President Trump

Citing pioneering Black Republicans such as Nixon’s Art Fletcher, known as “the father of affirmative action,” Daniels says modern day Black Republicans can hardly

Black Republicans Do Not Necessarily Mean Black Representation; nor Justice

Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) and a long-time associate of Omarosa’s Youngstown, Ohio family, has had a unique view of Omarosa in the White House. He worked directly with her when she was a Democrat. He even named her a celebrity ambassador for IBW’s Haiti Support Project after she traveled with a group of journalists to document the level of disaster following the 2010 earthquake. His view in the midst of Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


believes to have been her true agenda based on her most recent situation. “I think Omarosa, for whatever reason, is somebody who had been on Continued on page 14e

NNPA Interviewed Omarosa last fall, but is still awaiting Trump interview that she promised.

Omarosa’s Final Days...

Continued from page 11 the liberal side. She had supported Hillary Clinton...She had been in Democratic politics and all that. I think Omarosa saw an opportunity to advance her own interests and that is why she was blocking everybody else in terms of the Republicans who wanted to get close. She wanted to be the Queen bee,” Daniels said. “She wanted to be able to fire folks, metaphorically speaking, or block people. That’s not a good thing. But the idea that if she had opened the flood gates of somehow having more Ben Carsons or more Clarence Thomases or people like that, [that would not have been a good thing either]. But I don’t think Omarosa was there advocating. It was really stunning to see her make that transformation.”

Black Republicans are not the only ones who say they were rejected by Omarosa

American Urban Radio Network reporter April Ryan, a White House correspondent who has covered four presidents, confirmed that now former Trump press secretary, Sean Spicer, told her that Omarosa had asked him to “stop calling on me” during press briefings. Had he adhered to that request, it could have blocked important information and coverage on behalf of millions of African-American listeners to AURN radio stations across the nation. Ryan says Omarosa also tried to get her fired by calling her boss at AURN. Many of Omarosa’s previous friends and associates, who rejected Trumpism, say they were also rejected. Daniels says he was one of them. “Omarosa is my home girl. My roots are in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and most of my adult life was spent in Youngstown, Ohio,” her hometown,

he recalls. “I had my own television show in Youngstown, Ohio for 18 years. She said she grew up watching me and was inspired by that. I saw the good work she was doing with children in Compton and that she had a progressive vision. So we forged a friendship,” he said. “All of that was positive. Then, all of a sudden Trump came along and I saw her in and around Trump and I became very nervous. She’s my home girl. I cared about her. So at one point, I just sort of, as an elder, a friend, I just sort of called her to say, ‘Be careful. You seem to be getting very close to Donald Trump and I don’t think...’ And she just sort of went off on me, kind of like, ‘You don’t need to be telling me, nobody needs to be telling me what’s going on. I know what I’m doing. And somebody needs to be able to talk to him. And that was it. I just said bye because I did not want to see her become what she has now become in the Black community - a pariah in the Black community.” There are many such stories told by former friends. But the truth about Omarosa’s tenure and final days at the White House is yet to be made clear.

by other sources are two completely different stories,” said Ayshia Connors. “But based on her patterns

Omarosa and Ben Chavis during an NNPA Black Press Week breakfast in March. She ended up walking out of the meeting after this reporter, Hazel Trice Edney, pressed her on the promised NNPA "first" interview with Trump.

Ben Chavis, president/CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, said he interviewed Omarosa last fall in her White House office, located in the Old Executive Office Building. At that time, shortly after the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Weekend, there was no indication that she would be leaving, Chavis said. However, he speculated that, based on the content of the interview - which he said has not been published - she may have been pressing for diversity too much. “She indicated broadly her determination to press diversity and inclusivity issues. She’s always maintained that posture,” Chavis said. “I think that’s probably one of the things that probably got her in trouble in the White House is that she probably was pressing for more diversity,” Chavis said. In an off-the-record meeting with several hundred Black leaders, including Chavis, during the Trump transition last January, Omarosa said NNPA would get the first interview with President Trump, a promise she later denied despite multiple sources that confirmed the conversation. In the recent interview, she indicated that the Trump/NNPA interview was still possible, Chavis said. He said NNPA will continue to request the interview with Trump. What happened in the final days of Omarosa’s tenure and the detailed reasons for her departure from the Trump administration are far from clear. “There are two sides of the story Omarosa’s story and those being told

Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


of erratic behavior and disruptive behavior, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she was confrontational with General Kelly and things were played out the way they were reported to have played out - outside of her story.”.

This Bloodcurdling Event Made MLK Consider Violence


By PushBlack

hen James Earl Ray fatally shot Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, it sent shockwaves through the Black community and casted a dark cloud over Memphis, Tennessee for years to come. But, why was King in Memphis in the first place? Two months prior to King’s assassination, a faulty garbage truck crushed two Black sanitation workers in Memphis. The company denied responsibility for the incident and refused to pay any money to the dead workers families, spurring outrage among the rest of the Black sanitation workers. Thirteen hundred infuriated employees holding “I Am A Man” signs went on strike to protest this grave injustice and bring attention to the company’s lack of concern for Black workers humanity. Workers already felt disrespected prior to the death of their colleagues because they were paid less than $2 per hour, frequently worked 60 hours for 40 hours’ worth of pay, and remained poor enough to collect welfare despite working full-time jobs. At the time, Memphis, like most of the South, operated under a plantation mentality and treated Black workers like they were worthless and dispensable. When King caught wind of the strike and heard about the deaths of Echol Cole and Robert Waters, he crafted a fiery speech and packed his bags for Memphis. Though King had a pensive demeanor and staunch nonviolent stance, the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike ruffled his feathers and tested his patience to no end. When he arrived on March 28, 1968 he encountered angry whites breaking windows, senseless police attacks on Black workers, and the murder of a 16-year-old boy. At this point, King’s

frustration led him to consider abandoning his non-violent principles and fight back. During his trip, King added Memphis to the Poor People’s Campaign, and met with noted Civil Rights leader Bayard Rustin to devise a plan to aid the city’s impoverished Black community. Unfortunately, King died before any of those plans came to fruition. Yet, by all measures, the strike was successful and spawned the largest mobilization of Black service sector workers in history. Thousands of Black workers joined the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union and demanded not only increases in pay, but also welldeserved respect and dignity as employees. Learn more about this epic struggle for economic justice and equality by checking out /Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign. . Editor’s note: PushBlack Now provides daily inspiring Black history. For more information, visit


For more information call 303-292-6446 or email




Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


Ground Rules

Must See............llll It’s Worth A Look.....lll See At Your Own Risk.ll Don’t Bother.....................l

Editor’s note: Samantha Ofole-Prince is an award-winning writer and contributor to many national publications and is’s Senior Critic-at-Large. Khaleel Herbert is a journalism student at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Laurence Washington is the creator of Like on Facebook, follow on Twitter

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle lll By Khaleel Herbert

Jumanji is reincarnated into a

video game in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. While in detention, four teens with opposite personalities discover a Super Nintendo-esque game cartridge and system. They ponder: What do we do with this dinosaur? A TV sits over yonder. After setting up (because when kids and teens see something, they can’t help but go over to it like flies to a bug zapper. There’s something wrong with their heads) and choosing their avatars, they’re plugged in…literally plugged in to the world of Jumanji. Spencer (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) gets a stellar body and is the leader of the group. Fridge (Kevin Hart) is a pint-sized zoologist and Spencer’s backpack-lugging sidekick. Martha (Karen Gillan) plays a karate master in short-shorts and Bethany (Jack Black) is an overweight cartologist who navigates the team. In order for the teens to get home and into their normal bodies, they must return a magical crystal to the eye of a stone jungle cat in the middle of the woods…and avoid Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale), the man who originally had the crystal to control the Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle


animals of Jumanji. Welcome to the Jungle is the sequel to the 1995 Robin Williams classic. It picks up right where Jumanji left off. The board game was found on a beach and brought back to the states. It takes the form of a video game when its next victim sets it on top of a video game console. It answers the question: What was it like for Robin Williams to be stuck in the Jumanji jungle for 26 years? The shenanigans and goofiness of Robin Williams and jungle animals let loose on the streets of New Hampshire was a fun time. Kirsten Dunst and Bradley Pierce were little tykes and Bonnie Hunt almost had a heart attack when Williams tricked her into rolling the dice. Good times, good times. Asking me if I like Welcome to the Jungle or Jumanji is like asking me which set of Star Wars movies I like, George Lucas’ original trilogy or the ones Disney made. They’re both good in their own right but preferably, I like the George Lucas originals where every one is still young and Darth Vader rules the First Order with an iron fist. (Call me old-fashioned if you like. I don’t care!). There are some positives to Welcome to the Jungle. Kevin Hart and The Rock are back together again, although their relationship isn’t a bromance like 2016’s Central Intelligence. The Rock keeps his swagger, and in practically every movie I’ve seen with The Rock, he punches someone’s lights out. Welcome to the Jungle is no exception and I would not want it any other way (he’s more worthy here than in that God-awful Baywatch that came out this summer). Karen Gillan (she’s almost abnormal without her Nebula-robotic flesh and black eyes from the Guardians of the Galaxy flicks) delivers butt-whoopings through awkward flirting and dance-fighting (don’t ask). It’s a hoot to see Jack Black act as a female

throughout the whole thing, a rare and different performance for Black from the adorable Kung-Fu panda, Po. This team has a good chemistry and drive to get everyone home, including long-time resident, Alex (Nick Jonas), which is admirable and funny. Spoiler alert: Jack Black and Nick Jonas kiss. There. Now you have something to look forward to. Welcome to the Jungle is no substitute for Jumanji and I don’t believe it wants to be. Think of it as Jumanji’s younger brother who wants to be his own, but still has respect for his older brother.

Washington in a goofy position–from his looks, to his gestures. He’s not the man seeking justice by any means like Man on Fire, The Equalizer, or The Magnificent Seven. He somewhat returns to his friendly spirit from The Preacher’s Wife and political fire from Malcolm X. Instead of fighting goons or tyrants, he has to fight himself. He has to battle with the fact that he crossed the line and he can’t go back. It takes a true actor to dive into different roles. Washington is brilliant and his slight romantic chemistry with Maya (Carmen Ejogo) is a delight to watch. His ability to speak his mind

Roman J. Israel Esq.

Roman J. Israel Esq.


lll By Khaleel Herbert

eteran actor Denzel Washington plays the thoughtful, outspoken and somewhat goofy Roman J. Israel Esq. Roman J. Israel Esq. (Esq. is the proper designation for someone who is an attorney), follows the self-titled character diligently working as an experienced ethical lawyer of some odd decades. Roman’s world shifts when he discovers that his partner of the legal law firm he owns is critically ill after suffering a heart attack. With his partner on the verge of death, Roman is forced to find work elsewhere. No family. No car. Roman travels the streets of LA with his two feet, trusty briefcase and headphones to his iPod on his ears. George Pierce (Colin Farrell), a lawyer Roman despises because he only works for dollar signs, offers him clients from his law firm. Roman needs the money and Colin needs Roman. Roman’s beliefs in the human condition steadily slant. One decision for survival gets him a front row seat to the glamor life (no more Jif peanut butter sandwiches or records for him!) with a brand new apartment, new suits, and a slick new hairstyle (losing his signature afro). But his decision spews unintended consequences. Roman J. Israel Esq. puts

Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


on things that aren’t right is moving. I have to ding some points off this film for a few things. First, this story is about a lawyer fighting himself and court cases. We only see him in the courtroom once (and he was held in contempt for upsetting the judge). I would have liked to see him actually win some court cases (at least two or three). Seeing Roman and his partner in some shape or form, even if it was a photo of them side by side would not have been a bad idea either. Roman respected and looked up to his partner as a role-model for his profession. To not even get a glimpse of the man’s face ruins certain scenes for me, especially as the film wraps up. Columbia could have at least slipped in a flashback or two of him giving some ultimate words of wisdom like Uncle Ben did to Peter Parker. Roman J. Israel Esq., with its imperfections, breaks Washington out of his usual shell keeping him relevant and fresh in 2017 Hollywood.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi lll By Laurence Washington

OK, let’s get the big question out

of the way. The Last Jedi is not as good as The Empire Strikes Back (‘80), and it’s light years better than The Force


Vancouver he met his current girlfriend, 29-year-old former Miss Vancouver, Sabrina Dhowre. And to cap off a great 2017, he stars alongside Jessica Chastain in the thriller Molly’s

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Awakens (’15). Empire set the bar for other Star Wars movies. So it goes without saying, everything else falls short. However, The Last Jedi strives to be as dark as Empire, and in many respects, it achieves that end. Baddie Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), is determined to fill Darth Vader’s shoes, er… make that helmet, and doesn’t care who gets in his way for galactic conquest. Needless to say, a lot of victims meet the business end of Kylo Ren’s light saber, Jedi’s, Siths, Storm Troopers – he makes no distinction. He’s a bad mutha clucka,’ but he’s also conflicted, which is his weakness – a problem that Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) senses. Last Jedi picks up where Awakens leaves off, with Rey (Daisy Ridley) finding Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on a planet deep in the regions of space. You might recall cheering toward the end of Awakens, as Rey hands Luke a lightsaber. The anticipation during the past two years is, Luke will pick up the lightsaber and once again lead the fight against the forces of evil. But whoa! Hold your phasers…I mean blasters. It is not to be. Taking a page out of A New Hope (’77), Luke is now an old man who wants to live out his days in self-imposed exile. He wants nothing to do with lightsabers, Jedi’s or the Dark Side. Like a young Luke Skywalker, Rey wants the reluctant Luke to train her in the ways of the Jedi, so they both can join the resistance and fight the New Order. But, ah, there’s the rub. At the same time Rey is trying desperately to recruit Luke, Kylo Ren is using the Dark Side to seduce her to the New Order. Director Rian Johnson does a terrific job directing the traffic through Jedi’s three storylines that seamlessly come together during the film’s third act. There are twist and turns that the casual Star Wars fan might not see coming. At least I didn’t. It is a nice surprise that the late Carrie Fisher received a lot of screen time, as Director Johnson must have shot a lot of footage, or completed pri-

mary filming before her untimely death. To the film’s credit, and to the anticipation of fans, The Last Jedi checks all the boxes from Imperial Walkers to Star Destroyers. Chewy is back, ex-storm trooper Finn (John Boyega) and his new found love interest, mechanic Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) visit a Star Wars bar punctuated with a host of interesting extraterrestrials, and of course each planet has cute and cuddly creatures. But unlike Return of the Jedi (‘83), thankfully we don’t get an overdose on those damn Muppets. The Last Jedi also has the distinction of being the longest running Star Wars movie with 152 minutes. So you might want to hit the potty before the film starts. In the end, The Last Jedi is a pretty good movie that could have been edited by 30 minutes for the sake of time and plot development. But it’s a good movie nonetheless. A word of caution: Marvel films have us programed to wait for an after credit scenes in these blockbuster films. Since this is a Disney film, don’t bother.


Molly’s Game is About Gender Balance and Power By Samantha Ofole-Prince Photo credit Michael Gibson

By all accounts, Idris Elba has had

an incredibly good year. First, he played the heroic Roland Deschain in Nikolaj Arcel’s The Dark Tower and reprised his role of Heimdall in Thor: Ragnarok. Then, the actor took on his first lead romantic role in Hany AbuAssad’s The Mountain Between Us, starring opposite Kate Winslet, and it’s during filming of the movie in

Game. “It has been a rather good year,” agrees the Golden Globe award-winning actor who since his breakout role as Stringer Bell, the lieutenant of a Baltimore drug empire on the HBO series “The Wire,” has appeared in well over 40 films and television projects. There has also been directing stints with just four years ago, Elba made his directorial debut with his own teleplay, The Pavement Psychologist and he also created, directed and starred in the music video Lover of Light by Mumford and Sons, which has received more than nine million YouTube views. Adding, his company, Green Door Pictures, is developing a comedy titled In The Long Run, which set in 1985 London and is about a West African family he says is loosely based on his childhood. But despite starring in some major films from Ridley Scott’s American Gangster, Star Trek Beyond, to Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation, which earned him a SAG award, Elba admits that he doesn’t have a systematic way of approaching roles. “It really depends on the director. The Dark Tower was very much an action led film so there was some physical training. For Ben in The Mountain Between Us, there was a lot of talking about the characters with Kate and me, but in Molly’s Game, I had to memorize every single word and punctuation that was written and I don’t like to memorize words. I am more of a guy that sort of feels it and says it.”

Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


A film based on the true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target, Elba plays her defense lawyer who discovers that there’s much more to Molly than the salacious tabloid stories reveal. “What attracted me to the role is that I play a lawyer that judges her and then decided to go against that and goes one step further and takes on the law system,” shares Elba. “Charlie is this very polished sort of seen-it-all hotshot lawyer, but I think he’s really intrigued by Molly because there is so much more complexity to her than how she initially presents. He thinks he has her figured out the minute she walks in the door and then she really challenges him with her intellect and the strength of her character and personality and I think that really draws him in.” The directorial debut of playwright and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), poker drives the plot of this story, which follows an athlete who was in the qualifying trials for freestyle skiing when an accident sent her down a very different path of hosting illegal high-stakes poker games. She ends up getting raided by the FBI, and writing a book about the whole affair. “This isn’t a whistle blowing film,” Elba continues. “It’s actually about integrity and it’s about gender balance and it’s about power.” In the film, Sorkin brilliantly cuts between Molly’s rise to power in the backrooms of Los Angeles following her fall from grace as an Olympic skier and her meetings with her lawyer. It’s a neatly done rise-and-fall story as Molly’s brush with Hollywood royalty, sports stars and business titans give her a decade of glitzy and glamorous success, but she soon attracts the wrong kind of attention when she inadvertently engages members of the Russian mob. There’s money, power and sexism in this indelible story about a woman competing in an all-male world and it’s the kind of gritty tale Hollywood gravitates to. “Hollywood has a lot of hanging fruit for stories and there are so many different personality types in this industry. There is the glamour of course, but there is the real underbelly and the uglier side, which we are all seeing come up now in what is happening in Hollywood,” says Elba, who starred as Nelson Mandela in The Weinstein Company biopic Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom, a performance which earned him a Golden Globe nomination. .

Deadline for the Tom Joyner Foundation Full Ride Scholarship Program Approaching

At Just 15- Years Old, These Two Fun- Loving Entrepreneurs Have Proven That You Can Run A Successful Business…

Only one student will win a scholarship to cover all expenses to an HBCU of their choice, joining an impressive group of previous “Full Ride” Scholars

Tom Joyner is reminding students

that the deadline for the Tom Joyner Foundation® Full Ride scholarship program is rapidly approaching. The highly coveted scholarship will cover all the expenses of one talented student planning to attend a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the fall of 2018. “Our full ride scholars are outstanding,” said Tom Joyner, chairman of his Foundation and host of the topranked nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning show. “We’re looking for another amazing young person who already is changing the world and wants to go to an HBCU where they can pursue their dreams.” Students will receive full tuition and stipends for up to 10 semesters to cover on-campus room and board and books. Students must meet the required academic standards each semester to renew the funds each year. Graduating high school seniors can apply for the scholarship by going to the Tom Joyner Foundation website at Students must have their schools mail their transcripts and recommendations to the Foundation at P.O. Box 630495, Irving, TX 75063-0495. To be eligible, students must meet the following criteria: 1) A United States citizen 2) Current high school senior attending school in the United States (applicant must be anticipating completion of high school degree in the spring of 2018)

3) Minimum high school grade point average of 3.50 (on a 4.00 grade scale, excluding home school studies) and minimum SAT score of 1400 (combined math essay and verbal score) or ACT score of 30. 4) Applicants must apply and be accepted to an HBCU by July 1, 2018. 5) Applicants must have demonstrated leadership abilities through participation in community service, extracurricular, or other activities. The applications must be postmarked no later than January 19. Interviews will occur in March. Past Full Ride Scholars have impressive backgrounds, including last year’s winner, ZKijah Fleming of DeSoto, Texas, who is attending Howard University where she is planning to major in sports business; Morgan Taylor Brown, of Fayetteville, Ga., who is attending Spelman College, pursuing her interests to become a psychiatrist. In 2015, JoAnna Jones of Ashville, North Carolina’s Buncombe County Early College High School is attending Winston-Salem State University, where she is pursuing a degree in nursing. Another winner is Titus Zeigler, who was a top student at Atlanta’s Henry W. Grady High School. The future trauma surgeon was a member of the Junior ROTC program, tutored kids at a local middle school and volunteered at the Atlanta Food Bank. Blaine Robertson of Reserve, La. graduated from Howard University and he is pursuing his dream of teaching high school back home in Louisiana. Britney Wilson, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., also graduated from Howard University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Wilson, who passed the New York Bar exam, is now a Bertha Justice Institute Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Another Full Ride Scholars Cheyenne Boyce graduated from Spelman College is completing her master’s degree in international peace and conflict resolution at the American University in Washington, D.C. The Detroit-native graduated from Spelman College. She spent a year as a prestigious Fulbright scholar teaching English to families in Malaysia. . For more information, email Neil Foot at or call 214-448-3765.

And Still Be A Kid!

Fifteen year old entrepreneurs, Essynce Moore and Moziah Bridges, are disrupting the entrepreneur industry, leading by example after having started a business at a young age. Essynce started her business at the age of 10 and is owner of Essynce Couture, LLC based in Hillside, NJ. She’s an entrepreneur, actress, motivational speaker, fashion designer/stylist and author. Moziah Bridges, on the other hand, started his business at age nine and is the president and creative director of Mos Bows based in Memphis, TN. His company, which was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank, produces handmade bowties, is on a mission, to make men look and feel their best. In addition to running their companies, both Essynce and Moziah travel around the country to teach, inspire, and empower other youth about entrepreneurship. Both of them also do a lot of motivational speaking at various schools, conferences, workshops, and more.

Their ultimate goal

Both say they would like to help more young ones to be financially prepared for the world after elementary, middle, and/or high school. They also want to encourage more young people to start a business, travel, be positive role models to other children, and live life unapologetically with integrity.

More than just teens

These young protégés and trendsetters are definitely whom your children should become familiar with. They’re precocious and living by example in a positive light. However, in their spare

Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


time they still manage to do fun teenage activities, such as hanging with their friends, going to the mall, roller skating, and so much more. Let’s not forget to mention their unique clothing styles.

Their wish list

Essynce says she would like to broaden her horizons, and also speak internationally. Moziah says he would one day like to expand his business to include women’s clothing. About Essynce Moore: Essynce started designing clothes at the tender age of six with just for fun doodles in her school binder and notepads. Her passion was, and still is, to find her own style, to share her creative upscale clothing ideas and styles with youth around the world, and to encourage reading. Essynce is a teen who turned her passion into a business in 2013. When she graduates high school, she wants to either travel the world for one year to consider college or attend a performing arts school. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram. About Moziah Bridges: Moziah started his company because he needed an accessory to help him look sharp, but didn’t see anything out there that fit his style or personality. So, with the help of his granny, he started making his own bow ties. His dream is to become a fashion mogul. When he graduates high school in 2020, he plans to go to college and study fashion design. Follow him on Facebook or Instagram. . Editor’s note: For more information about Essynce, visit For more information on Moziah visit,

All The MLK Streets I’ve Been To Have Been In The Hood

By PushBlack Now

repair this country’s MLK streets. The non-profit, Beloved Streets of America, works to revitalize MLK streets in St. Louis (and other cities). By fixing the physical attributes, White says it will raise self-esteem of residents and encourage businesses to bring their operations there. Though MLK streets have now come to be known for their decline, some cities boast thriving MLK streets. Minneapolis, MN; Tampa, FL; and

Chapel Hill, NC are cities whose streets honor Dr. King with bustling business and good upkeep. Atlanta, Dr. King’s hometown, pledged $20 million to revitalize Martin Luther King Drive. While many jokes about the condition of MLK streets are for a quick laugh, the conditions eerily mirror racial tensions and discrimination happening in this country. As protests


et’s be honest. We often joke that every Martin Luther King Jr. street in America runs through impoverished areas and are pictures of urban decay. The irony that streets named after one of the greatest leaders of the Civil Rights Movement look like they’ve been neglected for decades is not lost on us. There are more than 900 MLK streets in 42 states and Puerto Rico, and most of them are in disarray. Derek Alderman, a cultural geography scholar at the University of Tennessee, says that research has shown that a majority of these streets sit in low-income areas and have higher levels of segregation than city-wide and national norms. Immediately after Dr. King’s assassination, cities commemorated him by renaming streets after him. However, because of housing discrimination and whites leaving urban areas for the suburbs, neighborhoods - especially streets named after King - were replaced with drugs and violence. The conditions of MLK streets are well documented. Shuttered stores, crime, cracked pavements, and limited public transportation options are all symptoms of the neglect that has plagued these streets. AOL Real Estate/ blog estimated that home values on MLK streets decreased 12.5 percent from 2010 to 2011. The national home value only decreased about 5 percent in that same time period. The urban decay that plagues MLK streets is emblematic of the racial divide in the country since the end of the Civil Rights Movement. However, there is one man that wants to change that. St. Louis postal worker Melvin White started an organization to Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


against injustices against black people - like taking a knee - continue to happen around the country, these streets are a reminder that token symbols are not evidence of change, but an indictment of systems that foster racial tensions. . Editor’s note: PushBlack Now provides daily inspiring Black history. For more information, visit

Five Ways To Get Fit, And Stay Fit, For the New Year! fter all the holidays have passed, most of us might experience a little guilt or regret after eating all those yummy deserts and buttered rolls. No worries! Now is the perfect time to make a resolution to GET in shape and STAY in shape. Most of us have no problem starting an exercise regimen, but very few of us have the discipline or drive to make it a lifetime habit.

ly before the kids are awake which makes for precious, uninterrupted time for parents. You are more likely to stick with it if it your time for exercise is at the same time everyday. 3. Have Fun! It is easy to get stuck in a rut, doing the same thing every time you decide to exercise. Try to get creative and have fun doing the things you like to do. If you like running or walking, then it makes sense to use a treadmill or walk/run outside. Perhaps swimming is your pleasure? Find a local pool and dive in! It is important that you change your routine and add new activities to keep it fresh. 4. Make it Convenient! Does your apartment complex have a fitness center that you’ve never seen? Is your treadmill collecting dust or being used as a coat hanger? If so, it’s time to make a change and form a new habit! There’s no excuse for not exercising regularly if it is convenient for you to do it. If necessary, join a gym nearby so that you can visit it on your way to or from work. 5. Make a Commitment! It is easier to stick with a commitment if the goal is written in a clear and precise for-

Here are a few tips to help you do just that: 1. Get Motivated! At times, we all need a little help getting started or sticking with our exercise routines. It is reasonable to enlist a friend to work out with you, or to hire a trainer to get you started or keep you going. Consistency and accountability are two of the most important parts of sticking with an exercise or nutrition regimen and another person (or group of people) can be very beneficial. If you do choose to work with a personal trainer, make sure that the trainer is certified from a nationally recognized organization such as AFAA, A.C.E or ACSM. 2. First Things First! Most people have tremendous success with sticking to their exercise routines if they do it first thing in the morning. For people with small children, this time is usual-

mat. For example “I will lose 5 pounds by the end of February” or “I will drop a dress size by March 1st.” With a combination of good nutritional habits and regular exercise, you can achieve consistent and healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week. It usually takes about 3 weeks to form a habit, so start now! It is necessary to exercise and make wise eating choices consistently in order to reap the benefits. If you need motivation to get started, a personal trainer or gym memberships are wise investments in your health. Happy New Year and Happy Exercising!. Editor’s note: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate fitness solutions. For more information, visit or email

By Kim Farmer


Baltimore Urban Spectrum — – January/February 2018


Baltimore Urban Spectrum January/February 2018  
Baltimore Urban Spectrum January/February 2018  

Baltimore communities are dreaming. Read what they are dreaming about in the January/ February BUS issue and Mayor Catherine Pugh's Call To...