Iyanla Vanzant In Baltimore to “Fix IT” As More Protest Continues over a Proposed $30 Million Juvenile Jail in Baltimore City

A call for help has been made for Baltimore and Iyanla Vanzant has accepted the call.

Baltimore is the largest city in the state of Maryland; the 26th-most populous city in the country, and the largest independent city in the United States. However, what happened in Baltimore on April 12, 2015 when Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr., a 25-year-old African-American man died after being arrested by police for allegedly possessing an illegal switchblade, still remains a mystery. Splintered in pain and turmoil, the residents of Baltimore are divided over the incident of six police officers, who were involved in Gray’s arrest were indicted. Frustration increased recently when an announcement was made by newly-elected governor, Larry Hogan to cut spending in public education, and instead invest to build a $30 million juvenile jail in Baltimore City, despite campaign promises. Combined with a continuing a run of violence in the city making the month of May – Baltimore’s deadliest month since 1999.

To help stop the hemorrhaging of anger and mistrust and to start conversations of healing, Dr. Jamal-Harrison Bryant, pastor and founder of Empowerment Temple church, has enlisted the help of talk show host, Iyanla Vanzant of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) hit TV show, Iyanla: Fix My Life.

OWN’s hit TV show, Iyanla: Fix My Life, features the talk show host helping people to overcome difficult situations in their lives. Vanzant, an accomplished author, life coach, inspirational speaker, and talk show host is a living testament to the value in life’s valleys, and the power of acting on faith and empowerment. Plans are to lead residents of Baltimore in conversations of emotional healing and an empowering breakthrough.

The 3-day “Fix My City” Healing Service will be held at Empowerment Temple Church, 4217 Primrose Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215 this week, wrapping up today, Thursday, May 28, 7:00-9:00 p.m. for the community. All of this comes as a result of Dr. Jamal-Harrison Bryant inviting Iyanla Vanzant to participate in current collaborative and strategic efforts to move the residents of Baltimore City toward open dialogue and restoration.

Dr. Bryant was heavily involved in the Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray cases as the family’s advocate and spiritual adviser. He has witnessed firsthand how communities can become disillusioned without a catalyst for healing and trust. “Iyanla Vanzant is that catalyst,” says Bryant. His hope is that these 3-day sessions will stimulate encouragement, optimism and empowerment.

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Keith Douglas Talks Maturity and New Book Artificial Intelligence

Renowned Poet and Author Maya Angelou Dies at 86

Maya AngelouMaya Angelou, the renowned poet, author and civil rights activist with the unmistakably regal voice, has died. The author of the celebrated autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was 86 years old.

Her death comes less than a week after Angelou announced she would not attend the 2014 MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon, where she was to be honored, citing “health reasons.” Last month, she also canceled an event in Fayetteville, Arkansas, because she was recovering from an “unexpected ailment” that left her hospitalized.

Angelou was born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, under the name Marguerite Annie Johnson, and was raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco, after her parents sent her off to live with her grandmother in California when she was fresh with a white store clerk in Arkansas.

Between Angelou’s fiction, non-fiction, and published verse, she amassed more than 30 bestselling titles

Angelou was also a trailblazer in film. She wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the 1972 film “Georgia,” and the script, the first-ever by an African-American woman to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

In more recent years, it was her interactions with presidents that made headlines. In 1993, she wowed the world when her reading of her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” was broadcast live globally from former President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. She stayed so close with the Clintons that in 2008, she supported Hillary Clinton’s candidacy over Barack Obama’s.

She also counted Nelson Mandela and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., as friends, and served as a mentor to Oprah Winfrey when Winfrey was starting out as a local TV reporter. When she was in her 20s, Angelou met Billie Holiday, who told her: “You’re going to be famous. But it won’t be for singing.

In North Carolina, Angelou lived in an 18-room house and taught American Studies at Wake Forest University.

Michelle Obama to appear on first week of Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Tonight Show’

Michelle ObamaNew York, NY — Jimmy Fallon is premiering his new show with a bang.

NBC announced Monday that Will Smith will appear on the Feb. 17 debut of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” U2 will perform.

Justin Timberlake will close out the week, which will also include appearances by first lady Michelle Obama, Will Ferrell, Bradley Cooper, Kristen Wiig

and Jerry Seinfeld.

Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire and Tim McGraw will perform during the week.

The first four episodes of Fallon’s new show will air at midnight following the Sochi Winter Olympics. Its regular time slot is 11:35 p.m. Eastern.

Fallon replaces Jay Leno, who hosted “The Tonight Show” for 22 years. “Saturday Night Live” alum Seth Meyers is Fallon’s successor; his “Late Night” show debuts Feb. 24.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter Rev. Bernice King Blasts Brothers at press conference over lawsuit

composeAtlanta, GA — Surrounded by family and supporters, the Rev. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thursday morning held a press conference to address a lawsuit filed by her brothers. Her tone was reflective and steadfastly determined. King said she is disassociating herself from her brothers.

“I will always love my brothers, but we are of different minds and most importantly, different relationships with God,” King said from the pulpit of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. “I know my position is right. It’s about standing on principle.”

Her emotional speech, which clearly reflects her deteriorating relationship with her older siblings, comes following a lawsuit filed against her by her brothers, Dexter Scott King and Martin Luther King III. The suit is asking a judge to force King to relinquish their father’s Nobel Peace Prize and “traveling” Bible, which was used during President Obama’s second inauguration.

The complaint states King has “secreted and sequestered” them in violation of a 1995 agreement that gave the estate of Martin Luther King Jr., controlled by the brothers, ownership of all their father’s property.

“They are hidden in plain sight,” Bernice King said. “They know where they are. But God put them beyond their reach.”

Clearly seeing herself as the guardian of her fathers and parents legacy, King said, “These items should never be sold to any person, as I say it, or any institution, because they’re sacred. I take this strong position for my father because Daddy is not here to say for himself that “My Bible and medals are never to be sold.”

In a blistering statement issued on Tuesday against her brothers, King states that ahead of the legal challenge her brothers approached her about selling “our father’s most prized possessions.” Neither of the brothers has publicly commented on the pending lawsuit.

Also commenting on the situation is Dr. Joseph Lowery, a major figure in the civil rights movement who marched with Dr. King, and said he was “deeply disturbed” even by the suggestion of selling King’s Bible and Nobel Peace Prize.

“I don’t even want to admit there’s a discussion about putting those items on the market,” said Lowery. “They are sacred items, not only are they sacred to the family but they’re sacred to the community. They represent Martin’s life work and commitment to justice and serving God.”

“I hope [the King brothers] can resolve whatever financial difficulties they have without selling these items.”

Though, the siblings have been involved in ongoing legal battles, significantly, this is the first time Bernice King has given a public response attacking her brothers.

“Without knowing the particulars and conversations it’s sad that they are not on one accord on how to handle this situation and are airing their dirty linen in public,” said Morris Tipton, of the National Baptist Convention.

“I don’t know the particulars and details but I am praying for reconciliation and for the family not to taint the legacy of their father,” said Rev. Samuel Mosteller, president of the SCLC’s Georgia chapter.

Still, he adds he agrees with King that these items shouldn’t be in the hands of a third party. “The value lost in that sale would be monumental and couldn’t be replaced.”

“I think there might be more to this story than we have heard because we are yet to hear from the brothers,” said Mike Scott, an Information Technology professional who lives on the outskirts of Atlanta. “That being said I think those items should be kept in the family.

8 years after storm, $872M in Katrina money unspent in Mississippi

 (Left Photo) Willi Lee, 84, sits inside his home that was damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and which he wants to rebuild August 18, 2010 in Pearlington, Mississippi. Lee says he has received the funds to rebuild but cannot find a trustworthy builder. PEARLINGTON, MS – MAY 25: (Right Photo) Willi Lee, 79, stands inside his home that was damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and which he wants to rebuild May 25, 2006 in Pearlington, Mississippi. Lee said he attempted to ride out the storm in the house but eventually was washed outside by the flooding where he was able to cling to a tree limb for hours until the floodwater subsided. Lee says a poisonous water moccasin snake clung to the limb next to him the entire time. The eye of Hurricane Katrina passed directly over Pearlington, located approximately midway between New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi

Jackson, Miss. — Eight years after Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast, Mississippi still hasn’t spent almost $1 billion in federal money dedicated to recovery from the storm. The remaining $872 million is part of $5.5 billion Congress gave the state to rebound from Katrina, which struck in August 2005, killed 238 people in Mississippi and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, most heavily in coastal counties. More than half of the unspent money is tied up in a hotly debated plan to expand the state-owned Port of Gulfport, and millions more are allocated for projects that have yet to materialize.

Critics also complain that some projects are far from the Katrina strike zone and don’t seem to have a direct connection to recovery from the hurricane, while others have failed to take root or are not meeting promises of creating jobs. One of the projects — a parking garage in Starkville near the Mississippi State University football stadium — is more than 200 miles from Katrina’s landfall.

Ashley Edwards, director of the state’s Office of Recovery, said the pace of spending has been partly due to difficulty satisfying federal requirements. Some funding wasn’t released to the state until recently, Edwards said, but state officials said they plan to complete most work within the next two years. The money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development must be directed toward projects that meet certain criteria. For example, companies or government entities getting economic development money must agree to create certain numbers of jobs, with at least half of them to be offered to low or moderate-income people.

But Reilly Morse, a lawyer for the Mississippi Center for Justice who has fought the state’s spending priorities, questioned why Mississippi hasn’t been able to find uses for all of the money. “For a state that’s got economic development challenges, a state that’s got a difficult unemployment rate, it’s surprising,” he said. The decision to allot more than half of the HUD money to job-creation was made by former Gov. Haley Barbour, who was in office when Katrina struck. The state could reallocate money with HUD’s approval, but has resisted changes.

Neighboring Louisiana budgeted less than 3 percent of its money for economic development, spending almost all of it on housing and infrastructure. As of March 31, Louisiana had spent about 91 percent of the $10.5 billion it received under the program, according to reports it submitted to HUD. Morse had campaigned to have more of the money diverted to help Mississippians repair houses. Under national criticism, Mississippi shifted about $164 million into a home repair program that’s still ongoing. One of the most contentious projects funded with the money has been the plan to expand the port of Gulfport.

As the project dragged and job creation lagged, current Gov. Phil Bryant called for a re-evaluation of port plans in 2012. Raising the port’s elevation to 25 feet to thwart storm surge was scrapped, and the port lowered its cargo target from 3 million containers a year to 1 million containers. Longtime port director Don Allee resigned.

The cost of the project — $581 million with $463 million still to be spent — is still attracting criticism. The port currently averages about 200,000 containers a year, and Gulfport City Councilman Rusty Walker questions Bryant’s goal of expanding capacity to 1 million a year. He doubts that current tenants, such as fruit importers Dole Food Co. and Chiquita Brands International Inc., are going to increase the amount of cargo they move through Gulfport, arguing the port could already handle more traffic than it gets today. “If they could sell an extra bunch of bananas, do you believe they wouldn’t be doing that now?” Walker said. Walker wants money shifted from the port to such efforts as repairing storm-damaged sewers.

“It’s time to take the money back,” Walker said. Port Executive Director Jonathan Daniels, though, said the port needs all the money to meet its goal of creating 1,200 jobs. “If we don’t complete the project, then essentially we’re sitting here with a big field and very little ability to expand,” he said. “The best way for us not to reach our job goals would be to remove the money.” Beyond the port, the state set aside $384 million for projects funded by economic development grants. It’s spent $234 million, but still has $150 million to spend. Of the $283 million allocated so far, $39 million has gone to 10 projects that have yet to yield a job. Mississippi Development Authority Chief Administrative Officer Manning McPhillips said companies have three years from the end of construction to meet their pledges.

But in some cases, no jobs were ever created. After Indeck Energy failed to build a wood pellet plant near McComb, Pike County sued the company to reclaim the land. The state spent $475,000 to build a rail spur and move earth. The state counts Indeck, a hardware distribution center that closed in Meridian and a welding company in Holmes County that took money and hasn’t built a building as its only failures. But a life insurance sales firm now called One Life America agreed to open a 100-employee call center in Stonewall, south of Meridian. The state spent $600,000 to renovate a former factory. The insurance company closed the call center when the company reorganized. State House Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, said the company had trouble hiring workers in the isolated location. He also said the company met all its legal commitments.

Advance Auto Parts took $614,000 for drainage, water and road improvements at its distribution center in Gallman, south of Jackson. It pledged to create 35 jobs, but has actually cut jobs because of the bad economy, state officials say. They’re now seeking a waiver or an extension from HUD for job creation requirements. Other companies may also get extensions, records show. Then there is the question of whether some of the projects have anything at all to do with the hurricane recovery. The state plans to spend $8 million to finance a parking garage for the city of Starkville, home of Mississippi State University’s main campus and more than 200 miles from where Katrina struck. Part of a hotel-convention center complex planned around a former cotton mill, it’s blocks from Mississippi State’s football stadium. That’s not unlike the condominiums built for University of Alabama football fans in Tuscaloosa using Katrina-related tax breaks and subsidized borrowing.

Like Tuscaloosa, Starkville was part of the presidentially declared disaster zone, and Edwards said spending is appropriate because it helps fuel “a comprehensive recovery.” While Mississippi funds the Starkville project and can’t seem to find uses for millions in other available funding, some recovery programs in coastal areas still visibly affected by the storm are out of money. For example, a $3 million forgivable loan program in Hancock County has committed all its funds to local businesses trying to rebuild. Storm surge was at its most extreme in Hancock County, where Katrina made its final landfall. “We had far more applicants than we had funds,” said Tish Williams, executive director of the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce. “We were the hardest hit and the last to get.

The 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington Remembered by Hundreds of Thousands

Washington, D.C. – Over the weekend thousands gathered at the National Mall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Speakers including Martin Luther King III and Democratic Rep. John Lewis, who was the youngest speaker at the 1963 march, encouraged the crowd to continue fighting for social justice. Attorney General Eric Holder kicked off the celebration, acknowledging the work of civil rights leaders from the Martin Luther King, Jr. era.

“But for them, I would not be Attorney General of the United States and Barack Obama would not President of the United States of America,” Holder said

People arrive at the National Mall to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I have a Dream’ speech on August 24, 2013 in Washington, DC

 

Students of Howard University march from campus to the Lincoln Memorial to participate in the Realize the Dream Rally for the 50th anniversary of the March in Washington August 24, 2013.

Students of Howard University march from campus to the Lincoln Memorial to participate in the Realize the Dream Rally for the 50th anniversary of the March in Washington August 24, 2013.