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EGACY Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.

WEDNESDAYS • Feb. 24, 2016


What to know before March 1 voting - 5 Southern Baptist leader talks race, etc - 8 Quilts with messages seek discomfort - 10 Man pleads guilty to killing mother - 17

Richmond & Hampton Roads

MegaGenesis event on Sat.


Sickle cell anemia, BHM awareness is at heart of radio broadcasters, Va. Blood Services event LaToya and Brett Cypress aren’t shy when it comes to voicing their appreciation for blood donors. The Richmond couple has been affected twice as much as anyone when it comes with facing medical crises helped by the public’s ability to donate blood. Six years ago, the Cypress’ welcomed twin sons Noah and Gabriel into the world, but six months later were informed both have sickle cell anemia; an inherited group of disorders that cause red blood cells to contort into a sickle shape. These cells then quickly die, leaving a shortage of healthy red blood cells which block blood flow and cause pain and discomfort. In honor of Noah, Gabriel and the more than 100,000 Americans affected by sickle cell disease, several of the city’s most popular radio broadcasters will help mark February as Black History Month and raise sickle cell awareness by taking part in a blood drive at White Oak Village, 4500 S. Laburnum Ave. in Richmond, on Monday, Feb. 29, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Participating stations iPower 92.1, KISS 99.3, Praise 104.7 and NEWSTALK 1240 will be positioned along with blood drive officials in a store front near DTLR where they will join in efforts to collect blood and support life. Complimentary food will

The Cypress family be provided for donors along with prize raffles throughout the day. LaToya and Brett are among the one in 13 African Americans born with the sickle cell trait, so odds were high that their twin boys could have the disease. Although Noah and Gabriel enjoy activities including playing sports and musical instruments, especially drums, their young lives are sadly plagued by frequent infections, pain, and fatigue—all telltale symptoms of

sickle cell disease. Visits to VCU Medical Center, where the boys undergo blood transfusions, result in the disappearance of the pain that is commonly associated with sickle cell anemia. “Blood donors mean the world to me,” said LaToya. “The simple and selfless act of donating blood means that in less than 24 hours, my boys experience a complete turnaround health-wise following a blood transfusion. Between the two, they’ve undergone more than 20 blood transfusions since birth, and these can often be four-hour procedures.” In the United States, an estimated 70,000–100,000 people, mainly African Americans, are affected by sickle cell anemia. The disease occurs in more than one out of every 36,000 Hispanic American births. More than two million Americans have sickle cell trait. The condition occurs in about one in 12 African Americans. Still, those with the trait can still donate blood.

Infections, pain, and fatigue are symptoms of sickle cell disease. Treatments include medications, blood transfusions, and rarely, a bone-marrow transplant. “Pain crisis, a symptom of the sickle cell anemia, can be treated by blood transfusions,” said Virginia Blood Services Executive Director Todd Cahill. “Donating blood is very important to local sickle cell patients, including those in Richmond, and helps to improve their quality of life.” Dr. Charles Richard Drew, an African-American doctor who pioneered large-scale blood banks during World War II. The Washington-native pioneered the process of blood collection, storage and transfusion and envisioned blood drives and the use of refrigerated ‘bloodmobiles.’ In preparation for your donation on Feb. 29, you are asked to eat well, stay hydrated and arrive with proper identification. To donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old, or 16 years old with parental consent.

2 • Feb. 24, 2016



Mother not criminally responsible in son’s death A court-appointed forensic psychologist has concluded that the mother who was found in May pushing her dead toddler on a swing suffers from schizophrenia and was not criminally responsible in the child’s death. Romechia Simms, 25, was charged with manslaughter, first-degree child abuse and other charges associated with the death of her 3-year-old son, Ji’Aire Lee. Simms was slowly pushing the boy on a swing in a La Plata, Md., park for 40­hours last May, including during the rain, when he died of hypothermia and dehydration. Finding a defendant not criminally responsible is Maryland’s version of not guilty by reason of insanity. Such defendants are given mental health treatment as opposed to a prison term. Simms’s trial is scheduled to begin Monday in Charles County, but it’s unclear how the report could affect the case and whether the judge will declare Simms not criminally responsible or reject the findings and move forward with the proceedings. In a 14-page report obtained by The Washington Post, psychologist Teresa Grant of the Maryland Office of Forensic Services wrote that although she found Simms competent to stand trial, Simms’s mental disorder caused her to “lack substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of her conduct or to conform her behavior to meet the requirements of the law.” Grant determined Simms is not a danger and should be allowed to remain in the community as opposed to housed in a mental institution. When contacted, Grant declined to comment on her findings. Prosecutor Tony Covington also declined to comment. Simms was released from custody in December after her family posted bail, and she has been living with

on the swing, she told the officers the boy was “just sick” and was “having trouble breathing.” The child was seated in the swing, his head tilted back and his mouth open. His arms and legs appeared stiff, and he was not moving. According to the report, Simms told the psychologist that she began showing signs of mental illness in late 2014. At that time, Simms said she began having “visions” and thought people were knocking on her door. Simms said that in February 2015, while living in the District, she called D.C. police to report that people were trying to kill her. She said when police arrived, they laughed at her. Her mother then took her to MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center for evaluation, and she was discharged and ordered to Romechia Simms and her son, Ji’Aire Lee, 3, posed two months before follow up with a local psychiatrist. In April, she was admitted into his untimely death in this family photo. Southern Maryland Hospital’s counseling service, Regenerations, her mother, Vontasha Simms, and Vontasha Simms says since her and was diagnosed with teenage brother in Waldorf, Md. daughter’s release, Romechia has schizophrenia and prescribed Vontasha Simms says that she been reading, singing gospel songs medication. She told therapists there hopes prosecutors agree with the and spending time with relatives. she believed people were trying to hurt court-appointed psychologist’s She said her daughter may go back her. She also admitted to smoking assessment. Her daughter continues to school or part-time work if her marijuana several times a week at the to mourn Ji’Aire, Simms said. case ends without incarceration. time, according to the report. “Now that this tragedy has “It’s good for the public to have the A month later, she was arrested at happened, Romechia should not opportunity to see that even when Wills Memorial Park. be the one to pay for it,” Simms, someone goes through that type of At the time of Ji’Aire’s death, he 47, said. “Life is never going to be tragedy — and she’s still suffering and Simms were staying with her normal again without Ji’Aire. She and going through counseling — that mother at a La Plata motel. can only try to pick up the pieces you are able to be productive,” the After her arrest, Simms told police and continue on with her counseling, mother said. that two women removed her from maybe for the rest of her life.” Romechia Simms graduated from the hotel and gave the two of them Romechia Simms’s public defender, high school in 2008. She attended an unknown drug. She also told Michael Beach, said he hoped his Bowie State University for two the officers that on the day she was client would not be institutionalized, years and majored in English in the park with her son, she had which he says would be a “big step with a concentration in secondary stopped taking her medication for “a back” in her improvement since being education. Simms aspired to become couple” of days. released from jail. a teacher, according to the report, Ji’Aire’s father, James “Donnell” “We are doing everything we can to but dropped out of school when she Lee, had sought full custody of the try to maintain her highly successful became pregnant. toddler, but during a hearing less support network that she has got The report provided new details of than two seeks before the boy’s now that is really working well and the boy’s death. When police found death, he agreed to continue joint keeping her healthy,” Beach said. Simms in the park pushing her son custody.

Feb. 24, 2016 • 3

4 • Feb. 24, 2016


Virginia hospitals cry poor in effort to keep anti-competitive regulations

data shows that hospitals’ concerns may be greatly exaggerated, with three of the state’s biggest nonprofit Some major Virginia hospital hospital chains pocketing hundreds chains are campaigning hard to keep of millions of dollars last year and anti-competitive licensing laws on in St. #4 (mailing) • 105 1/2 E. Clay St. (office) paying substantial salaries to top the books. A central part of their Richmond, VA 23219 executives. argument: without state regulations -644-1550 (office) • 1-800-783-8062 (fax) They’re able to do that, in part, to protect their bottom lines, they because of Virginia’s Certificate of wouldn’t be able to offer charity care those insurance might dto Size: 7.15without inches (1 column(s) and X 7.15 inches) Public Need licensing law, which gives the state broad power to even have to shut their doors. 1 Issue - $100.10 organize the health care market and It’s a message being driven home Rate: $17 per column inch by television ads aimed at Virginians often results in large hospitals using Discounted rate: $14 per column inch their influence to shut competitors and by lobbyists in Richmond. But ERIC BOEHM

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out of the market. “Hospitals with local monopoly protection are gaming the system at the expense, quite literally, of their patients, and we are allowing it to continue,” said State Del. Kathy Byron, R-Bedford, during recent debate on proposed licensing reforms. The Virginia House of Delegates voted 50-47 to accept changes made to the bill by the committee. A final vote on passage was expected this week. The bill would move to the state Senate for consideration. Hospitals are putting up a fight against the reforms. The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association is running television ads across the state asking residents to call lawmakers’ and urge a negative vote on the bills. In the ad, a voiceover warns that the COPN reform legislation will “financially ruin your local hospitals, putting lives at risk.” “Your local hospital could close,” according to the ad. “You’ll pay more for medical care and get less.” The advertisements are only part of the hospitals’ lobbying efforts. In a four-page letter to Gov. Terry McAuliffe dated Dec. 1, the VHHA paints a picture of an industry in dire need of government help. According to the VHHA letter, declining state reimbursements, mandatory services provided to the poor and hospitals’ costs from subsidizing Medicare coverage threaten “serious harm to this key sector of Virginia’s economy. Virginia’s local hospitals and health systems simply cannot continue to absorb these reductions.” Byron took to the House floor last week to dispel some of those assertions. For example: Topline financial data filed with the IRS shows that Inova Health System, a dominant player in the northern Virginia market, reported a net gain of $513 million during 2013 and had $5.3 billion in assets at the end of fiscal 2013. The health system paid salaries of more than $500,000 to more than 20 top executives and spent more than $1.1

million on lobbying between 2010 and 2013. Sentara Healthcare, which operates more than 100 health care facilities in Virginia and North Carolina, had a net gain of $117 million during 2013 and reported more than $1.4 billion in assets at the end of fiscal 2013, according to data filed with the IRS. At least 11 Sentara Healthcare officials made more than $500,000 that same year, the data shows. “The hospital industry opposes the elimination of the anti-competitive Certificate of Public Need (COPN) because it says it can’t afford competition,” said Mike Thompson, president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute, a free market think tank based in Virginia. “The newly released financial numbers from the hospitals themselves clearly show this industry as a whole is doing very well. For it to say otherwise is simply not supported by the facts.” Even mid-sized and smaller hospital chains are doing quite well in Virginia. Research from the Thomas Jefferson Institute shows hospitals in the state generated a profit margin of 10.7 percent during 2014 and a profit margin of 8.7 percent last year. “COPN reform is about improving patient access to care, lower costs for care and not about protecting hospital financial bottom lines,” said Del. John O’Bannon, R-Henrico. O’Bannon is the sponsor of one of the three COPN reform bills awaiting action on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates. All three were voted out of committee. Of the three, O’Bannon’s bill is the most far-reaching. It would remove COPN regulations from many aspects of the state’s health care industry, including outpatient surgery centers, medical imaging facilities and other small-scale health services. The bill also would implement recommendations from a special legislative commission aimed at streamlining the licensing process. © Virginia Watchdog

Feb. 24, 2016 • 5

“Cooking Matters” tours What you need to know to vote teach smart shopping for healthy family-meals at home Richmond parents are learning to shop smarter and prepare healthier meals for their children by attending guided tours in local grocery stores. In December 2015, “Share Our Strength” awarded $1,100 to Richmond City WIC, Resource Mothers, Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Community Partnerships for Healthy Mothers and Children, for the purpose of offering “Cooking Matters” sessions at store tours to program participants. Tour attendees receive a booklet of healthy recipes, a reusable grocery bag and $10 worth of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables. The $10 Challenge encourages participants to use skills learned on the tour to maximize their budget and to try new foods which may be unfamiliar. Kroger and Food Lion partnered with Richmond City WIC to host monthly tours in both Spanish and English. SNAP-Ed and WIC nutritionists lead the tours. The next Cooking Matters at the Store tour

will be on Feb. 24. On average, Richmond families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) only spend 77 percent of their fruit and vegetable vouchers. This amounts to nearly $8,000 in fruits and vegetables unused each month by families needing nutritional support. Now these families have the opportunity to participate in a Cooking Matters at the Store tour which provides them with the skills they need to select healthy foods and maximize their food budget, including their WIC food benefits. Participants learn and practice skills like reading food labels, comparing unit prices and identifying whole grains. “Cooking Matters at the Store meets our clients’ needs by providing a fun, interactive experience which will reinforce key skills required to live healthy lives,” said Lizbeth Snead, Richmond City’s WIC Coordinator.

The presidential primary race is coming to Virginia on March 1. The polls will be open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Here is what you can do to be prepared to vote.

Find your poll location There are many voters who only vote every four years in the presidential primaries and election. Some polling locations have changed in the last few years. Take a few minutes to double check your poll location even if you have been voting in the same place for years. It could save you frustration and time on March 1. Find polling place and address If you are planning to vote on your way home from work, keep in mind you need to be in line at your poll location by 7 p.m. in order to vote – give yourself plenty of travel time. If you take public transportation, there are two convenient ways to find out how you can get you where you need to go on Election Day:

Local school boards have voted to make March 1 a school holiday, so classes will not be in session at chools that serve as poll locations.

Bring a valid form of photo ID Acceptable forms include Virginia driver’s license, U.S. passport, Military ID, federal, Virginia or local government-issued photo ID cards. For s complete list contact the Virginia Department of Elections About your ballot On March 1, there will be two primaries held in each poll location. Registered voters can vote for either a Democratic candidate or a Republican candidate, but not both. The presidential primary ballots were printed in advance of absentee voting, which started in January. Several candidates have since withdrawn from the election. If you are unsure if your preferred candidate is still running for a party nomination for president, you can get information from media sources.

6 • Feb. 24, 2016

Op/Ed & Letters


It’s time to transform juvenile justice in Virginia RICHARD BONNIE When young people are brought under the control of our juvenile justice system, we all have a stake in making sure they receive the services they need and that they become productive, law-abiding citizens. Fortunately, over the last 15 years, an impressive body of research on adolescent brain and behavioral development has helped us understand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to rehabilitating youthful offenders. I had the opportunity to become familiar with this research a few years ago when I chaired two studies on juvenile justice for the National Research Council. Our reports, issued in 2013 and 2014, convincingly demonstrate the shortcomings of outdated juvenile justice policies that emphasize institutional confinement and punishment while documenting the positive effects of communitybased, rehabilitative approaches. If implemented well, evidence-based programs reduce reoffending and produce remarkably large economic returns. I am pleased to see that our recommendations are being implemented in Virginia. Governor Terry McAuliffe’s proposals to the General Assembly aim to hold young offenders accountable while providing them with effective, evidence-based treatments in their communities. The LEGACY NEWSPAPER Vol. 2 No. 8 Mailing Address 409 E. Main Street 4 Office Address 105 1/2 E. Clay St. Richmond, VA 23219 Call 804-644-1550 Online

The result will be a reduction in recidivism and a smarter investment of taxpayer resources. News reports suggest that both the governor and legislators recognize that many years of budget cuts have eroded community treatment services and made Virginia too reliant on the incarceration of juveniles in its aging, oversized juvenile correctional centers – Beaumont and Bon Air. These facilities, with a combined 550 beds, are both located in the Richmond area, miles away from the families of most of the youth who are sent there. Years of experience demonstrate that incarceration is counterproductive. While nearly 40 percent of the budget for the Department of Juvenile Justice is spent on incarcerated juveniles, almost 80 percent are rearrested within three years of release. In fact, the longer they stay, the more likely they are to reoffend. The governor’s goal is to replace these facilities with a statewide continuum of services and placement options. Specifically, the governor’s budget authorizes the Department of Juvenile Justice to use operational savings from a declining institutional population to invest in evidence-based treatment programs and alternatives to confinement in communities across the commonwealth. The governor also included funding in his bond package to replace The LEGACY welcomes all signed letters and all respectful opinions. Letter writers and columnists opinions are their own and endorsements of their views by The LEGACY should be inferred. The LEGACY assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. Annual Subscription Rates Virginia - $50 U.S. states - $75 Outside U.S.- $100 The Virginia Legacy © 2015

Beaumont and Bon Air with two smaller, secure, treatment-oriented residential facilities, one remaining in the Richmond area and one in Hampton Roads – the two regions that send the most youth into state custody. These facilities will have a combined 152 beds, compared to the 550 beds the state operates today, producing even more savings to reinvest in community-based services. The percentage of young people in the centers who will be within a one-hour drive of their families will increase from 25 percent to 75 percent. These proposals mirror key recommendations for reducing recidivism in our report: • Keeping youth in, or close to, their communities to promote active engagement and support from families, as well as therapeutic work with families. • Providing evidence-based treatment programs as more effective, and less expensive, alternatives to confinement. • Limiting the overall number of youth who are confined in state facilities to those with the highest risk to reoffend, and providing these youth with highly structured rehabilitation and education. • Giving youth safe and structured opportunities to participate in work, school, and community activities, and to foster positive peer relationships, self-reliance, and critical reasoning.

In other words, these proposals are based on extensive research on what works best with youthful offenders. They strike the right balance between public safety, cost-effectiveness, and youth rehabilitation. It is also worth pointing out that states as diverse as Texas, Georgia, and New York are already pursuing similar efforts. Some may argue that, instead of two 75-bed facilities, the state should build several small centers. Although this approach might be preferable in an ideal world, I’m afraid that such a plan would eat up the savings the state wants to reinvest in community alternatives to custodial placement without appreciably adding to the benefits expected under the current plan. In sum, the juvenile justice reform proposals before the General Assembly will improve public safety, produce long-term budget savings, and benefit children, families, and communities. It is rare to see such a strong consensus emerge in favor of transformative reforms. The Governor and General Assembly have a chance to achieve meaningful improvements in Virginia’s juvenile justice system, and I hope they make the most of it. Bonnie is Harrison Foundation professor of Law and Medicine, director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy, and Professor of Public Policy at the University of Virginia.

Feb. 24, 2016 • 7

P.T. Hoffsteader, Esq.

The FBI versus Apple

The Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to know what’s on Syed Farook’s Apple iPhone. As the old saying goes, people in hell want icewater too. The San Bernardino killer’s phone is encrypted. More than ten attempts to guess the correct six-digit pass code (out of a million possibilities) will result in destruction of all data on the phone. They’re stuck. At least they say they are (I’m skeptical). They want Apple to help. Forcing Apple to do so would be a simple matter of issuing a subpoena if the company had the information in question, but it doesn’t. So the FBI wants Apple to create an entirely new version of its operating system that allows them to bypass the tentry limit. And a federal judge, citing an 18th century law called the All Writs Act, has ordered Apple to just that. As I write this, Apple has, quite reasonably, refused the demand. Presumably there’s a court battle in the offing. Apple should win in the courts, and in any event what the FBI is demanding should be impossible. If what the FBI is demanding isn't impossible on this generation of iPhones, Apple should be working overtime on a system update that MAKES it impossible, just in case the courts side with the FBI. This is not about Syed Farook, nor is it the equivalent of a demand to hand over the key to an apartment because the cops have a search warrant. This is about you, and it's the equivalent of a demand to hand over the keys to 700 million apartments just in case the cops ever take a notion to rummage around in

your closet. Am I worried? No, and yes. No, because if Apple folds and does the FBI's will, people who value their privacy will simply switch to devices and/or third party encryption software that neither the FBI nor Apple can compromise in that particular way. Yes, because this is a red line in terms of precedent. The U.S. government has been at war on the rights and the privacy of every phone and computer user in the world for decades, but this is an open declaration of that war, the moment when the gloves come off. The state doesn’t own your phone. The state doesn’t own your data. The state doesn’t own YOU. Time to put the tyrants on notice: We’re all out of icewater, fellas. Thomas L. Knapp

Bridges or walls?

As Christians, we are called to answer: What does God want us to build, bridges or walls? Donald Trump has never met a wall he doesn’t love. He believes in border walls, in gated communities, in structures and policies that separate “us” from “them” – especially when “them” can be defined as immigrants or people of color or the poor. “Pope Francis has a different answer. A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel.” Trump responded by calling the Pope “disgraceful,” adding Francis to the long list of people he attacks. I know this much: our relationship with God is personal, but it’s never

private. The public practices and policies we choose to support demonstrate what we mean by the gospel and about the world we believe God calls us to help create. And the Pope is right: the policies Donald Trump espouses are in direct conflict with the gospel. Donald Trump has become the race candidate, the white nationalist candidate who calls for walls instead of bridges, that appeals to those who want to block America’s new multi-racial demographic future. Trump is the “Walls Candidate.” And Pope Francis rightly calls us all, religious or not, to build bridges. The most powerful metaphor for where we are going as a nation is crossing the bridge to a new America. Will we be willing and able to make our way to a genuinely multiracial and multicultural society, where diversity is seen as a strength rather than as a threat? Or are we headed for a conflictual future of one collision after another, with a resistant and even violent white minority building higher and higher walls? Many Americans, especially a new multiracial generation, want to build bridges now. Whether Donald Trump is a Christian or not is something between Trump and God. But Donald Trump’s vision for America’s future and his policies are indeed, contrary to the gospel. Donald Trump is an anti-Christian candidate. And that is now our choice— bridges, or walls? I choose to stand with the Pope, and I call on all Christians to do the same. Jim Wallis

Flip the Senate

In a few days, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in one of the

biggest abortion cases since Roe v. Wade. Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt challenges a 2013 Texas law that has made it nearly impossible for abortion clinics to remain open in the state. The Supreme Court’s ruling could reaffirm that women have the right to access safe, legal abortions, no matter their zip code. Or it could open the floodgates to laws that could wipe out abortion access across the country. With the Supreme Court now evenly divided and a critical seat open, the case could not be stronger for why we need a Democratic president and Senate to be picking the next justices. There’s too much at stake with Supreme Court cases like this one to leave things in the hands of the GOP. If Whole Woman’s Health isn’t overturned, anti-choice governors (think Rick Perry and John Kasich) will be empowered to set extremely restrictive laws, forcing many clinics to shut down. Supreme Court appointments are major events for our democracy. As President Obama is getting ready to choose a nominee, Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans have already said they’ll block whoever the president puts forward. This is the highest court in our land, and women’s health shouldn’t be crippled by partisan obstructionism. We never know when another Supreme Court vacancy will happen, but we know who we want making the decisions when that time comes. There’s too much at stake to let the GOP hold our rights hostage. Kate Black


8 • Feb. 24 , 2016

Faith & Religion

First black SBC president talks race, Obama Immediate past president of the predominantly white Southern Baptist Convention, says he mistakenly believed the nation had turned a corner when it elected a black president BOB ALLEN BGN -- The first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention says he believes the United States is more racially divided today than when the country elected its first black president in 2008. “I really thought that this nation was ready to move forward from our days of segregation when Barack Obama was elected as president of

the United States of America,” Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, said in a video for Black History Month produced by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. “Regardless of his politics and how you feel about some of his decisions that he’s made, this was an AfricanAmerican who was voted president of the entire United States of America,” Luter said, “meaning there’s a lot of Anglos and other ethnic groups

AME Church founder honored with postage stamp This image of the early bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was featured at an exhibit at the Library of Congress that closed on Jan. 2, 2016. Richard Allen, the first bishop, is in the center of the image. READ STORY ON PAGE 9

Fred Luter beside African-Americans that voted for him as president.” “As much as we needed racial reconciliation in America, I really thought that was the opportunity for our nation to come together and make us one as a nation,” Luter said. “But unfortunately, you know and I know that is not the case. I think it’s gotten even worse as a result of what we’ve seen in recent years in America.” Luter, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention elected in 2012 and 2013, said when he decided to seek the office, media from around the world flocked to New Orleans, all asking the same question: “Why would a black man want to be president of a convention that started as a result of slavery?” “That race question will always come up, just because of our past as a convention,” Luter said. “I don’t mind dealing with it. I don’t mind talking about it, and the things I told each of those reporters is: ‘Listen, all of us have a past. I’ve got a past. You’ve got a past. Every last one of us has a past.’” “We regret the past of this convention,” Luter said. “This convention has publicly apologized

for our past at several conventions that I’ve been a part of. We’ve made it known through resolutions that we want this convention to be more diverse, and it is.” “I believe the Southern Baptist Convention is the most diverse convention of any convention in America,” Luter said. “When it comes to Anglos, Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans, there is no other convention that comes close to our diversity in the Southern Baptist Convention, but we’ve got to get to the point, hopefully, that one day that will not be an issue.” “The issue needs to be: What are we doing in evangelism? What are we doing in discipleship? What are we doing in reaching the lost and changing this world?” he said. “That’s what I pray will happen. We’re not there yet.” Luter said he looks forward to a day he can visit a Southern Baptist church of any predominant ethnicity and “be introduced not as the first African-American president but be introduced as, ‘This is our brother, Fred Luter.’” “That’s my prayer for this convention and for America,” Luter said.

Feb. 24, 2016 • 9

AME Church founder honored ADELLE BANKS RNS - Richard Allen, the first bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was recently honored with a U.S. postage stamp commemorating his leadership of the historically black denomination founded 200 years ago. The U.S. Postal Service has called the preacher and activist “an inspiring figure whose life and work resonate profoundly in American history.” The new stamp was featured in a ceremony this month at Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. It is the 39th stamp in the Black Heritage series after more than 40,000 people petitioned the postal service for its creation. The art for the stamp is a detail of Allen’s portrait from an 1876 print, “Bishops of the A.M.E. Church,” from the collection of the Library Company of Philadelphia. Here are five facts about Allen: 1. He founded the AME Church after worship of blacks was restricted. Allen started Bethel AME Church after watching officials of St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church pull up his friend, clergyman Absalom Jones, who was praying on his knees. “The unwillingness of the Methodists to accept

the independent leadership of black preachers like Allen and the institution of segregated seating led Allen and Jones to found independent black churches,” said American religious historian Albert J. Raboteau. 2. He aided in the conversion of his slavemaster. Once converted himself, Allen played a role in the conversion of Stokeley Sturgis, a Delaware man who owned him. “Allen convinced Sturgis to allow visiting Methodist preachers to hold services at his house,” wrote former AME Church historiographer Dennis C. Dickerson in “A Liberated Past: Explorations in AME Church History.” After Sturgis was converted, and Allen had paid for his freedom, the former slave gave his former slavemaster “a gift of eighteen bushels of salt … in consideration ‘of the uncommon kind Treatment of his Master during his servitude.’” 3. He licensed a woman to preach.

“She can govern and she can start here, day one, more experienced than any non-vice president has ever been who aspires to this office.” President Barack Obama Politico January 25, 2016

Jarena Lee, a member of Bethel AME Church, was allowed to preach eight years after she first requested it. Allen helped make her work as a traveling preacher possible. Dickerson wrote: “When Lee traveled as an evangelist, Allen and his second wife, Sarah Allen, took care of Lee’s son.” 4. He was a successful businessman. Allen worked throughout his ministry so he did not need to depend on his congregation for support. “Though born in bondage, Allen prospered enough (as owner of blacksmithing, shoemaking and chimney-sweeping businesses) to buy several income properties,” wrote Raboteau in “A Fire in the Bones: Reflections on African-American Religious History.” 5. He pioneered African-American-owned institutions. Before he started the AME Church, Allen was instrumental in founding the Free African Society, which helped newly freed blacks develop leadership skills. He also founded an organization that promoted the education of black schoolchildren. “The birth of strong black institutions is a part of his legacy,” said the Rev. Robert M. Franklin, a leadership and black church expert at Emory University. “This is long before any of the black college movement emerges.”

Vote for Hillary in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday, March 1 Polls are open from 6:00am to 7:00pm

10 • Feb. 24, 2016


Ask Alma

Quilts with messages about gun violence and racial injustice aim to discomfort

A family divided Dear Alma, I need advice about a terrible family situation that involves me and all of my siblings, and it’s breaking us apart. I am one of nine children. We were all born and raised in the South. My parents farmed their land and taught us how to do it, too. We never liked it and couldn’t wait to leave, go up North and go to college. We all attended various colleges and universities and never returned home…all but one of my brothers. He stayed in North Carolina and helped my parents until they died. After they died he moved into the house on the property and has been living there ever since. He has kept up the property and paid the taxes on it. Now my brothers and sisters want to sell the farmland and split the money. My brother who stayed says the house should be his and he doesn’t want to sell it. We are totally divided. Six of my siblings have decided to take my brother to court and force him to sell the land. Only the one brother says we shouldn’t sell. And I don’t care either way. We’re all in our 60s, distinguished folks with profitable careers. We’re active in our respected churches and ready to retire if not already retired. I love my family, and if you met us, you’d never believe what’s going on behind closed doors. I don’t understand why we can’t talk to each other and just get along. I want us to settle this before one of us dies and we never get to resolve the issue. What can I do? J.C., Houston, Texas J.C., Close your eyes, think back to the time when your daddy was farming his land, mama at the window, both watching their children grow – chests pressed, full of pride. Your

father worked hard to tend the land and leave something to his children. Now everything he worked for is about to be jeopardized, and for what? You and your trifling brothers and sisters – yes, I said trifling – are fighting each other like you’re on an episode of “Judge Judy”. That is ridiculous and just plain sad. Your mama and daddy gave all they had, and what are ya’ll doing? Trying to give it away for some coins that will be spent in a month’s time. Your brother didn’t take the bus up to the city and try to tell you and your siblings what to do with your space, time and dimes, so don’t try to regulate his life now. Give him the house, period. Take the rest of the land and divide it evenly. Each person can do what he or she wants with his or her portion. It’s just that simple. You might not like it, but when your brother sacrificed, stayed home and properly maintained and cared for the house, your parents and the land, he earned extra. Your brothers and sisters are so focused on a few grains of sand that they are missing the beach in all its magnificence. There are other ways to make money. Taking your brother to court is not one of them. Grow up and act like mama and daddy are still watching, chest pressed, full of pride. ***** Want advice? E-mail questions to her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma *****

Chawne Kimber, right, whose quilt about Eric Garner won first in improvisational piecing at QuiltCon West, is congratulated by Joan D’Angostino. She found her inspiration in the overnight violence report sent every morning to her husband, a district leader for the Chicago public school system. It cataloged students who had been shot, stabbed and killed the night before. Jacquie Gering said her husband wore that weight on his shoulders, and that they would watch the news, and the kids in those reports were never mentioned. She felt profoundly disturbed, so Gering did what she does best. She made a quilt. It featured a 5-foot tall black handgun with blood dripping out of its muzzle and pooling beneath its trigger. She titled her quilt, “Bang You’re Dead.” She put the quilt on her blog and wrote that it was not meant to be humorous. It was meant to be final. The finality of death, whether at the hands of a police officer or a rogue armed citizen, is at the heart of some striking quilts on display at QuiltCon West in Pasadena through Sunday. These quilts are a rarity at the show, where nearly 10,000 people from 49 states and 15 countries are expected to come largely to see more traditional designs. But work centered on racial inequality

and the violence rooted in racism signals the strength of a modern quilt movement, which emphasizes individual feelings and experiences. These quilt artists are using “their needle and thread to prick the consciousness of the people,” said Marsha MacDowell, professor at Michigan State University, curator of folk arts at MSU Museum and author of a forthcoming book about quilts and human rights. MacDowell points out that textiles have long served this purpose. In the 19th century and early 20th century, quilting provided some women's only voice, resulting in quilts that championed women’s suffrage and Fannie B. Shaw’s “Prosperity Is Just Around the Corner,” whose imagery depicted optimism at the height of the Great Depression. Decades later the massive AIDS Memorial Quilt made its statement in 1987 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Recently, however, heightened interest in the art of quilt making has mixed with nationwide protests over social injustice. Add the Internet and you’ve got explosive results. Blogs with titles such as Subversive

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Feb. 24, 2016 • 11

Hampton U. alumnus brings home Grammy Many Hamptonians watched the recent Grammy Awards without realizing one of their own was a winner. Andrew Bisnaught better known as DJ Babey Drew, took home a Grammy for his contribution to Diplo and Skrillex award winning album. “Winning a Grammy Award means that I am among a very small group of elite people in this industry,” said Babey Drew. “It is the highest prestige anyone can get and I am honored that I could achieve it.” Diplo and Skrillex received both Best Dance Recording and Best Dance/Electronic Album during the 2016 Grammy Awards last week. Their album entitled “Jack Ü” includes the Justin Beiber hit “Where Are Ü Now,” which won the Grammy for Best Dance Recording and was also performed at the award show. Another hit song off the album entitled “Jungle Bae” sampled DJ Babey Drew’s “In the Air”, therefore earning him a Grammy for contributing to the award winning album. “I produced a song, sat on it for a year, then finally decided to do something with it, and within two months of me putting it out, I got contacted on behalf of Diplo and Skrillex,” said Drew. “The message here is, if you have an idea... Do it! When you lay a brick, a house eventually will come!” Although this is the first Grammy for DJ Babey Drew, this is not the first time he has worked with big wigs of the music industry. He is best

DJ Babey Drew known for being the official touring DJ for Chris Brown. But Babey Drew has also been a regular DJ for the Kardashians and also opened for big names such as Calvin Harris and Beyonce. He has performed in more than 20 countries and sold out his personal tours in Europe, Dubai, Africa, Brazil, and Australia. Born and raised in Queens, Drew began spinning reggae music at the age of 12. His DJ career really

took off while attending Hampton University from 1998 to 2002. He started with an entry-level position with WHOV 88.1 FM and worked his way up to the Saturday night DJ for the station. Drew often worked campus parties and local clubs in the area. In 2000, he also launched “The BabeyDrew College Tour”, in which he toured colleges across the country. He was also the on-air DJ at Virginia Beach’s Hot 102.1 for over 4 years

and for Power 96.1 in Atlanta. The 2002 Hampton graduate is not only an award-winning DJ, but also a business man who has used his talent to build a global platform. Some of his newest clients are The W Hotel, Coca Cola, and Microsoft. He continues to DJ and tour all over the world, but calls Atlanta home. He currently can be heard on Z-104.5 FM in Virginia Beach and Power 96.1 FM in Atlanta.

Annual event set for Saturday

menu, each representing a different profession. Professions include, surgeons, engineers, veterinarians, psychologists, military officers, technologists etc. This multifaceted program is embarking on its 21st consecutive year and continues to identify a vast array of boys and girls from diverse backgrounds who possess the potential for pursuing higher education and becoming vital citizens in our community. Over the last two years alone MegaGenesis has been attended by

over 800 students and parents. They had the opportunity to see over 26 corporate/educational/community exhibits, visited with 31 college and universities and professional programs, and had the opportunity to choose from 32 career workshops and practical sessions in law, medicine, scienceengineering- technology, business and management, and covering subjects such as SAT preparation, and College Athletics.

MegaGenesis, the Zeta Lambda Education Foundation’s implementation of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.’s national Go–To–High School, Go–To–College program, will conduct its annual in collaboration with Newport News Public Schools, Cooperating Hampton Roads Organization for Minorities in Engineering (C.H.R.O.M.E.), Inc. and Denbigh Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. This year the event will take place

Saturday, Feb. 27 and consists of four major phases: 1) Corporate and Community exhibits that are on display to demonstrate to the students how various college degrees are practically applied 2) College Expo; 3) A highly recognized motivational speaker who emphasizes the importance of goal setting, high standards and achievement; 4) Students have the opportunity to attend career workshops from an extensive

For more information visit the website

12 • Feb. 24, 2016


(from page 10) Stitchers and organizations like are gaining traction, as are community-driven efforts, including the Lynch Quilts Project spearheaded by LaShawnda Crowe Storm. Its mission is to examine the “history and ramifications of racial violence in the United States,” and its quilts feature gut-punching images from some of America's darkest days. In another sign of how much the quilting world has cracked open, last year the Craft & Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles

in the modern quilting community. A professor of mathematics living in Pennsylvania, Kimber is a descendant of a long line of quilters from Alabama. She came from a family that farmed cotton, “Not because they wanted to,” she said dryly. For her, quilting represents a deep connection to her family's past. Her quilts have been controversial from the get-go. She originally made quilts featuring four-letter words and was immediately told that she was ruining the quilt world, she said. “I really wanted to challenge the notion that quilts are sacred and Karen Maple with her quilt “Black Lives Matter” at QuiltCon West in Pasadena on Feb. 18. Many of the creations address social justice issues, including gun violence and racial inequality.

Jacquie Gering addresses violence in Chicago in “Aftermath.” staged “Man-Made: Contemporary Male Quilters.” “The quilting world can be conservative, politically speaking,” said quilter Chawne Kimber, 45, adding that the Internet brought powerfully diverse voices into the fold. Kimber’s QuiltCon offering is “The One for Eric” and features the tragic last words of Eric Garner, the African American man killed on Staten Island by an apparent police chokehold. “I can’t breathe” is quilted over and over again, in white block letters on a black background. I really wanted to challenge the notion that quilts are sacred and made by saintly grandmas. When QuiltCon opened last week, “The One for Eric” won first prize in the improvisational piecing category. When Gering, who is chairwoman of the Modern Quilt Guild, announced the win, she could barely conceal her tears. Kimber, who has gained a following for her quilting blog “Completely Cauchy,” holds a cult-like status

made by saintly grandmas,” she said. “My viewers are from the quilt world. These are elementary artistic pieces, but most viewers were stunned.” The way the medium conveys the message is key to the makers of social justice quilts. Kimber says that in the art world, themes such as racism and violence can be considered unremarkable because artists have addressed them over and over again. They are relatively new to the quilt community, though, which is why it’s shocking to see a gun on a quilt. And that's precisely the idea. Kimber made a quilt featuring the words “Legit Rape Here,” after former Missouri congressman Todd Akin commented in 2012 that “legitimate rape” rarely results in pregnancy. If it were a painting on a wall, it would mean one thing, Kimber said, but lay it on a bed and suddenly you've added dynamite to its meaning. Quilter Karen Maple expands on that idea. An early retiree from

the tech world, Maple stitched a quilt titled “Black Lives Matter” emblazoned with the word “Black” in all capital letters written backward over a Confederate flag after last summer’s church shooting in Charleston, S.C. “The goal is to make that quilt’s message break through the fabric,” Maple said. “And what I like about being able to display it at a quilt show is that so many people are going who are not expecting it. If you affect one of those people with thoughts about racism, maybe it will touch their heart.” Gering, 58, made a quilt called “Aftermath” featuring a large red blood stain on a white background, inspired by the Boston Marathon bombing. She added that quilt messages passed on via the Internet inspire others to create bold work. If she hadn’t seen Kimber’s quilts online, she says, she never would have had the courage to make “Bang You’re Dead.” “Because of our online community and the way we share on our blogs, Instagram and Facebook, our messages get out a lot further,” she said. Those messages inspired Diana Vandeyar, 53, an Australian-born quilter who relocated to Virginia from South Africa, where social justice quilting is a way of life. She says that “modern quilt revolution beginning in America” is exciting and expands on the art quilting that has been happening for years in South Africa in response to the apartheid era. Vandeyar’s QuiltCon submission is “Hillary Quilton.” It’s made from

fabric emblazoned with images of the former secretary of State’s face. Depending on the viewer’s stance on the deeply polarized presidential election, the images are likely to arouse passionate emotions. Vandeyar purchased the fabric in Bangkok in 2008 but didn't do anything with it until it called out to her, which it did this year. "This is the perfect place to make the quilt, and the perfect time," she said. The heightened political and social divisions create the ideal moment for these quilts to shine, says MacDowell, pointing to the national debates about the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality, the prevalence of guns, anger at Wall Street, health care and environmental issues. Quilts are effective at addressing these topics not just because they are unexpected, but because they are tactile, MacDowell said. “It’s almost as if you were extending a hug to somebody else,” she said. “Reaching out your hand because you have touched this fabric and now this fabric will touch them." Perhaps that's why quilts are among the first offerings sent to places where tragedy has struck — to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, to New York City hours after the planes hit the World Trade Center, to Flint, Mich., after the contamination of drinking water. Now quilts are both political and intimate — a swift slap in the face before the hug, a way to thread the needle of change.

Feb. 24, 2016 • 13

Civil rights leaders back appointing SCOTUS successor TEWire – Following the Saturday funeral of U. S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, debate is now on who should replace the ultraconservative justice and moreover, who should appoint his replacement. While giving condolences to his family, President Barack Obama has quickly pointed to the U. S. Constitution, which, in Article II Section 2, gives the president the power to nominate Supreme Court justices with a Senate vote on that appointment. “For almost 30 years, Justice Antonin “Nino” Scalia was a largerthan-life presence on the bench - a brilliant legal mind with an energetic style, incisive wit, and colorful opinions. He influenced a generation of judges, lawyers, and students, and profoundly shaped the legal landscape. He will no doubt be remembered as one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to serve on the Supreme Court,” Obama said in an initial statement, shortly after the announcement that Scalia had died in his sleep of a heart attack. The president’s announcement of his intent to nominate was immediately met with scorn from

Melanie Campbell Republican leaders who contend that he should hold off and allow the winner of the presidential election to make the appointment, a suggestion that has been answered with strong calls from Democrats and civil rights leaders for Obama to move forward. Only hours after the death was announced, lines were drawn by Republicans saying Scalia’s replacement should be named by the next president, who they hope will be a Republican. Presidential candidates have also taken sides along party lines, some even contending that Scalia’s appointment should be of the same philosophy. But the Congressional Black Caucus is not having it.

“McConnell is reinforcing the Republican political agenda to disrupt governmental functions when the circumstances do not line up with their philosophy. It is imperative that we have nine members of the United States Supreme Court deciding constitutional issues that are important to the American people,” wrote CBC Chairman G.K. Butterfield in a statement. “It is absurd to suggest that President Obama should be denied the opportunity to nominate a qualified jurist to replace Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court. The American people should clearly understand that Senate Republicans have a political agenda to pack the Court with conservative justices who would reverse years of progressive jurisprudence. “The Congressional Black Caucus urges President Obama to expeditiously nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia who has the scholarship, values and temperament to sit on the highest court of our country and decide cases based on established law rather than a political agenda. We will vigorously confront Senate Republicans at every turn should

they dismiss President Obama’s nomination.” Benjamin L. Crump, president of the National Bar Association, the premier organization of black lawyers and judges, was the first to issue a statement. “One of the primary missions of the National Bar Association has always been to maintain the integrity of the judiciary by ensuring it is a diverse representation of all Americans, it is our hope that President Barack Obama will quickly nominate and the Senate timely confirm a nominee to fill the vacancy in the U.S. Supreme Court created by the death of Justice Scalia.” Scalia is highly respected given his longevity on the court... But his brash opinions and even racially insensitive statements have given him a reputation of disrespect toward black people. His recent implication that African-American students should attend “slower” colleges underscored that reputation. Melanie Campbell, president/CEO of The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, also chimed in sending prayers and condolences to

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14 • Feb. 24, 2016


First black female transplant surgeon details kidney transplant inequity Velma P. Scantlebury, M.D., the nation’s first black female transplant surgeon, told an audience of more than 220 at Virginia Commonwealth University that blacks have a more difficult time getting on kidney transplant lists and have less access than whites to lifesaving kidney transplants. Scantlebury’s lecture, “Health Equity in Kidney Transplantation: Experiences from a Surgeon’s Perspective,” was held last week at the University Student Commons Theater. Her lecture and a related roundtable discussion were hosted by the Black Education Association at VCU. “The BEA was honored to host Dr. Velma Scantlebury, whose pioneering work and notable accomplishments are recognized and celebrated especially during Black History Month,” said Faye Belgrave, Ph.D., Black Education Association president and professor of psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences. “During her visit, Dr. Scantlebury increased our awareness of the importance of organ donation while inspiring VCU and the local community that barriers can be overcome with dedication and hard

work.” In her lecture, Scantlebury said black patients have lower rates of access to transplantation referrals from dialysis units and have longer times to complete the necessary workup for wait-listing compared to whites. Minority patients also have lower rates of transplants and have fewer patients listed for transplant preemptively compared to white patients, even though they are more likely to have end-stage renal disease, an important criterion for getting on kidney transplant waiting lists. She said transplant patients have higher survival rates than patients on dialysis, live longer and enjoy a better quality of life. While there is a great demand for kidneys, the supply is decreasing, and Scantlebury stressed that it is important to educate minorities to become living donors. Scantlebury also recounted her own path to becoming a transplant surgeon in 1989. As a black innercity immigrant born to a family of modest means, she faced a number of challenges to rise in a profession that was not populated with people with her background. When an audience

Velma P. Scantlebury, M.D. and VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. member asked what the most important factor was for minorities in becoming a surgeon, she responded, “Exposure — I didn’t know I wanted to be a surgeon until I met one.” Audience members were encouraged by Scantlebury’s personal story of overcoming the odds. “I didn’t know I wanted to be a surgeon until I met one.” “Dr. Velma Scantlebury’s presentation was inspiring in that it allowed the audience to know her personal journey,” said Ernestine Wilson, retired educator in the Chesterfield County Public School System. “Through the valuable information shared, those present were able to see the avenues to take when seeking to improve the quality of one’s life through kidney transplantation. The opportunity to ask and have answered questions related to real-life experiences was a plus. Special thanks to the Black Education Association for offering this opportunity to the Greater Richmond community.” The Black Education Association roundtable discussion “Current Issues in Organ Transplantation” focused on a similar theme. It was moderated by Wally Smith,

M.D., Florence Neal Cooper Smith Professor of Sickle Cell Disease, VCU School of Medicine. In addition to Scantlebury, the panelists were Gaurav Gupta, M.D., program director of transplant nephrology fellowship at VCU, and David Klassen, M.D., chief medical officer at the United Network for Organ Sharing. More than 60 students, doctors, nurses and faculty members turned out for a spirited discussion at the Molecular Medicine Research Building on the MCV Campus. Gupta said access to transplantation was an effective way to prevent kidney disease. And the waiting time for getting transplants was very important. “Waiting time on dialysis is the strongest modifiable risk factor for kidney transplant outcomes,” Gupta said. Scantlebury agreed that there were disparities in the process of referring patients on dialysis to transplant. She argued that the time on dialysis impacted survival after transplant. Klassen agreed that access to transplantation was a problem. “African-Americans have a difficult time in getting on the transplant list,” Klassen said. © VCU

Feb. 24, 2016 • 15

CDC: One in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep; a good night’s sleep is critical for good health

sleep duration varies by geography, race/ethnicity, employment, marital status, CDC researchers reviewed data from the 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a state-based, random-digit– dialed telephone survey conducted collaboratively by state health departments and CDC.

Did you get enough sleep last night? More than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, according to a new study in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This is the first study to document estimates of self-reported healthy sleep duration (seven or more hours per day) for all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults aged 18–60 years sleep at least seven hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being. Sleeping

Key findings: • Healthy sleep duration was lower among Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders (54 percent), non-Hispanic blacks (54 percent), multiracial nonHispanics (54 percent) and American Indians/Alaska Natives (60 percent) compared with non-Hispanic whites (67 percent), Hispanics (66 percent), and Asians (63 percent). • The prevalence of healthy sleep duration varied among states and ranged from 56 percent in Hawaii to 72 percent in South Dakota. • A lower proportion of adults reported getting at least seven hours of sleep per day in states clustered in the southeastern region of the United States and the Appalachian Mountains. Previous studies have shown that these regions also have the highest prevalence of obesity and other chronic conditions.

less than seven hours per day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress. “As a nation we are not getting enough sleep,” said Wayne Giles, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of Population Health. “Lifestyle changes such as going to bed at the same time each night; rising at the same time each morning; and turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices from the bedroom, can help people get the healthy sleep they need.” To study the prevalence of healthy

Grocer provides fresh donations to local food banks as part of American Heart Health Month Carrots, onions and celery are just a few of the things your diet needs to make your heart healthy and ward off potential heart disease and high blood pressure. That’s why Food Lion has donated fresh produce and other hearty meals to four local food banks. Food Lion made donations to four of its partner food banks to provide fresh produce with heart health benefits like vitamin A, vitamin K and other super foods to distribute in communities in need. “As part of our focus to increase fresh donations to food banks, we wanted to focus on fresh-only donations in February as part of heart-healthy month,” said Christy Phillips-Brown, Food Lion’s director of external communications and community relations. “These donations will help ensure our food bank partners can help their clients balance the plate with fresh produce versus traditional shelf-stable fruits

and vegetables, while also helping eliminate the fresh produce choices our customers often make when they are hungry.” Local food banks who received donations include Food Bank of Southestern Virginia, Norfolk; Harvest Hope Food Bank, Columbia; Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwestern N.C., Winston-Salem; and Feed America Southwestern Virginia, Salem. Through Food Lion Feeds, the company reports that it has committed to provide 500 million meals to individuals and families in need by the end of 2020. Since the launch of Food Lion Feeds in 2014, the grocer notes that it has already helped provide approximately 143 million meals through in-store campaigns, such as “Holidays Without Hunger,” in-store food donation programs and associate volunteerism.



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• People who reported they were unable to work or were unemployed had lower healthy sleep duration (51 percent and 60 percent, respectively) than did employed respondents (65 percent). The prevalence of healthy sleep duration was highest among people with a college degree or higher (72 percent). • The percentage reporting a healthy sleep duration was higher among people who were married (67 percent) compared with those who were never married (62 percent) or divorced, widowed, or separated (56 percent). To promote healthy sleep tips, the CDC recommends that health care providers should routinely assess patients’ sleep patterns and discuss sleep-related problems such as snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness. They should also educate patients about the importance of sleep to their health. Other tips note that individuals should make getting enough sleep a priority and practice good sleep habits and employers can consider adjusting work schedules to allow their workers time to get enough sleep and educate their shift workers about how to improve their sleep.

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2.27, noon

Join other volunteers to transcribe handwritten pages by reading written text and typing it into digital form during ‘Transcribe-a-thon’ at the Network Training Center in Richmond. Participate in enhancing access to collections of more than 400 years of Virginia history and culture. Twelve computer stations will be available. If you have your own laptop, please bring it! Transcribea-thons are facilitated by the volunteer organization HandsOn Greater Richmond. Minimum age is 16 (12 with an adult). Registration required:

2.29, 6 p.m.

The Henrico County Department of Community Revitalization will conduct a public hearing to seek input from residents on housing and other community development needs. The hearing will be held at Libbie Mill Library, 2100 Libbie Lake East St. Residents, particularly those with low- or moderate incomes or living in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, are encouraged to share their opinions on Henrico’s community development needs, including housing, neighborhood enhancements and expansion of economic opportunities. Henrico will use the input to submit a Consolidated Annual Action Plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The plan will outline the county’s proposed use of funds from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, HOME Investment Partnerships Program and Emergency Solutions Grant Program (ESG) from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2017. Agencies interested in requesting CDBG, HOME or ESG funds in 2016-17 may obtain an application at Click the link to “federal block grant programs.” The deadline to apply is Monday, March 7. For information, call 804-501-7640.



It’s happening...

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! will pay tribute to the ancient art of sword swallowing by holding free sword swallowing performances as part of World Sword Swallower’s Day on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 2 p.m.., with an official swallow at 2:27 pm to coincide with the 2/27 date. Two things to remember - that’s solid steel and yes, it’s all real. Ripley’s will showcase the greatest group of sword swallowers ever assembled and offer free performances for the public at several of its Odditoriums around the world. In Williamsburg, Cyrus “The Sword” Pynn will show off his amazing sword swallowing and sideshow skills. Ripley’s Williamsburg Odditorium is located at 1735 Richmond Rd. The sword swallowing performances will be free, but admission is required to tour the Odditorium.

Accounting students offer tax assistance

Virginia State University (VSU) accounting majors are working in cooperation with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to provide income tax preparation and filing assistance for 2015 tax returns to individual or joint filers in the Tri-Cities area with income below $54,000. This is the 28th year VSU accounting majors have provided this service, which is coordinated by Lester Reynolds, assistant professor of accounting at VSU and a former IRS employee; and Dr. John Moore, chairman of the Accounting and Finance Department in the Reginald F. Lewis College of Business. The students’ participation is among the requirements of the federal income tax course. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site has been established in Room 333 Singleton Hall, on the VSU campus and is being staffed two days a week; on Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The VITA site will be open through April 9. The service will be closed during VSU Spring Break, March 6 – 13. For more information, call 804-524-5842.

National Megan’s Law Helpline & Sex Offender Registration Tips Program Call (888) ASK-PFML (275-7365) Submit your calendar events to Include contact infomation that can be published.

3.5, 12 p.m.

Neighborhood Housing Services of Richmond, a nonprofit, full service organization dedicated to successful home ownership and community revitalization will host representatives from the Federal Deposit Corporation of America (FDIC), Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Bank of America, Xenith Bank, Premier Bank, J. Sargent Reynolds Community College, and many other partners as they meet with clients of NHS. The event takes place at 2712 Chamberlayne Ave., Richmond. For more information, contact Samuel L Robinson, Jr. at 804-329-2500

3.8, 6:30 p.m.

Participants in a free seminar offered by Virginia Credit Union will learn how credit scores are determined and practical steps they can take to build and maintain a good credit score. The seminar will be held Tuesday, March 8 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Virginia Credit Union, 7500 Boulder View Drive in the Boulders Office Park. To register, call 804-323-6800 or visit Financial_Education/Seminars_ Workshops/Your_Credit_Score.aspx.

3.9, 1 p.m.

Author Ross Howell Jr. will host a free book talk at the Library of Virginia’s Conference Rooms, 800 E. Broad St. Richmond. The book “Forsaken” tells the story of an uneducated African American servant, Virginia Christian, who was tried for killing her white employer in 1912. She died in the electric chair one day after her 17th birthday, the only female juvenile executed in Virginia history. The author researched the case using a variety of documents and images concerning Christian’s execution found in the Library of Virginia’s collections. A book signing follows the talk.

Feb. 24, 2016 • 17

Man admits to killing his mother - two days after completing a murder sentence In October of 2014, Steven Pratt was supposed to begin his life anew. He had served out a 30-year prison sentence and gone home to Atlantic City, N.J., where his family held a party to welcome him. But a violent history would repeat itself all too soon. Pratt was 15 when he got into an argument with his next door neighbor, Michael Anderson. Court records show that Anderson was a father figure of sorts to Pratt. On Oct. 11, 1984, he asked Pratt and his friends to vacate a hallway in their apartment building where they were noisily hanging out and smoking marijuana. Angered by Anderson’s request, Pratt retrieved a lead pipe from his apartment and approached Anderson with it in hand. Anderson wrestled the pipe from Pratt’s grasp, striking him on the face. Then Pratt’s mother entered the room, and Anderson left. Hours later, Pratt knocked on the door of Anderson’s apartment. When the neighbor appeared, Pratt asked him if he recalled their fight earlier that day, then shot him dead. Pratt was tried as an adult for the murder and began serving his sentence at a maximum security prison. Thirty years later, things should have been different. Pratt was 45 when he got out, and he returned to the Atlantic City neighborhood where his 64-year-old mother resided, the Press of Atlantic City reported. It was a quiet part of town, the kind of place where kids carved hearts around their initials in wet cement on the sidewalk. Neighbors told the Press of Atlantic City that Gwendolyn Pratt was “kind and impeccably dressed.” She took a 6 a.m. bus to work every day without fail. No one guessed that she would lose her life less than two days after her son got his freedom. On the Sunday morning after Pratt’s release, police found Gwendolyn dead from blunt injuries to the head. Pratt was charged, and at his initial court appearance, he

Steven Pratt wept. “I have failed,” Pratt told the judge, his voice barely audible, the Press of Atlantic City reported. “I don’t want a trial. I’m guilty.” He officially pleaded guilty to manslaughter this week. He is expected to be sentenced to 25 years in prison, according to the Associated Press. A 2014 Bureau of Justice Statistics report found that about 77 percent of released prisoners were arrested for a new crime within five years. Among convicted murderers, however, the recidivism rate is much lower, especially when it comes to those who commit murder again. Nancy Mullane, author of the book “Life after Murder,” studied the patterns of 988 convicted murderers who were released from California prisons, none of whom were rearrested for murder. The timing and gruesome repetition of Pratt’s crimes make him an anomaly — one that led many to ask whether he had been destroyed by juvenile incarceration. “If anybody’s been in prison 30 years in the adult system, they’re no sweethearts,” Ronald Gruen, a psychologist who has evaluated juvenile criminals for decades, told the Press of Atlantic City. “They’re probably a very angry, very paranoid individual. Probably very upset with the world.”

An emotional Steven Pratt pleaded guilty to manslaughter Feb. 17, for killing his mother in 2014, less than two days after completing a 30-year murder sentence.

(from page 13) with President Obama and the the Scalia family while listing crucial issues that are now at stake – many of specific importance to the black community. “It is our hope that President Obama will nominate someone who can serve the Supreme Court with compassion and a sense of justice particularly in matters such as civil rights, voting rights, reproductive justice, fair housing, education, marriage equality, immigration, racial and ethnic discrimination,” she said. Wade Henderson, president/CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, describing Scalia as a “formidable figure on the Supreme Court for nearly three decades.” Henderson said that “the Constitution that Justice Scalia revered provides a mechanism for filling judicial vacancies, and our elected officials must take that responsibility seriously. “The work of the United States Supreme Court is too important to the nation to allow a vacancy to go unfilled for an extended period of time. We look forward to working

Senate to confirm a justice in short order.” This Supreme Court appointment is particularly important to the civil rights community given that most civil rights or race-oriented cases end up being decided 5-4 by the nine-member court, with Scalia on the conservative side. Meanwhile with a court evenly divided 4-4 by philosophy, if a vote comes down the middle that way, the lower U. S. District Court’s ruling would stand. But, in his statement, Obama was clear he would move ahead with the nomination despite the acrimony. “These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They’re bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy. They’re about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life, and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our founders envisioned,” he said. “Justice Scalia dedicated his life to the cornerstone of our democracy: The rule of law. Tonight, we honor his extraordinary service to our nation and remember one of the towering legal figures of our time.”

18 • Feb. 24, 2016

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