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.


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.

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.

50th anniversary March on Washington, DC Set

marchThe District of Columbia is organizing several events leading up to the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington August 28, 2013. During a news conference at the African-American Civil War Museum Wednesday, Mayor Vincent Gray provided some insight on planned events.

The main event, announced by Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network, is the rally and commemorative march at the Lincoln Memorial August 24. A separate march, planned for August 28, will include a march to the Department of Justice and a rally on the mall.

Before marching the main event at the Lincoln Memorial, officials plan a rally at the D.C. War Memorial near the National Mall. Rally participants will focus on full enfranchisement for District of Columbia residents, voting rights, immigration reform, LGBT rights and gun violence.

In the days and weeks leading up to both events, D.C. officials also plan to highlight people, landmarks and artifacts that were important to the 1963 march through a series of seminars, forums and social events.

The 50th anniversary March on Washington is just as significant as the 1963 march. Many of the issues surrounding jobs, justice and poverty continue to challenge many Americans, and residents of the District of Columbia remain disenfranchised by the federal government. District residents do not have representation in the Senate and have a non-voting delegate the House of Representatives.

“People understand the plight to which we are subjected in the city,” said Mayor Gray, “they are very supportive … the District of Columbia should be freed from this kind of bondage. How can a nation that prides itself for supporting democracy all around the world deprive the people of the District of Columbia of the experience of democracy in this city.”

Janaye Ingram, D.C. Bureau Chief for the National Action Network, agreed that district residents are disenfranchised and said that current issues make the anniversary March on Washington just as relevant as the march 50 years ago.

“In 2011 and 2012 we saw many voter laws that [sought] to disenfranchise voters,” Ingram said. “The fact that the Voting Rights Act was gutted in a sense; taking Section 4 and making it invalid. With the case of George Zimmerman and the verdict coming out, we need to address some of the laws on a state level.”

Ingram also mentioned women’s issues and unresolved immigration reform as platforms substantiating the need for continued diligence in the current civil rights era. America has made progress in the last 50 years — including the election President Barack Obama — but as the Mayor further explained, more has yet to be done.

“I think it’s wonderful to see the progress that’s been made over these 50 years – the fact that we do have an African-American president – but the reality is that we still have many challenges. Certainly the District of Columbia is symbolic of those challenges that still are before us,” Gray told those who attended the news conference.

“When you have unemployment at the level we have, disproportionately affecting African-Americans and Latinos. When you see educational underachievement at the levels we still have, especially disproportionately to those who would be defined as minorities, you know that we still have challenges.”

‘Bloody Sunday’ bridge recognized as new national historic landmark

obamabridgeDemocratic Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) (R) marches with a crowd across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 1965 Bloody Sunday Voting Rights March on March 4, 2007 in Selma, Alabama. During the 1965 march, which was to go from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, police used tear gas and beat back the marchers when they reached the Pettus Bridge.

The legendary Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama, where the seminal ‘Bloody Sunday’ civil rights march took place this month in 1965, has been named a historical landmark by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Director of the National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, according to an Interior Department statement released today.

The location is one of 13 new sites to receive federal recognition, including the home of Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harrier Beecher Stowe and Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson N.J., which once served as a home-field to Negro League baseball teams.

The special designation of the Edmund Pettis Bridge, however, is especially significant since there is an ongoing debate within the Supreme Court and by extension the U.S. Congress about whether or not to uphold key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, legislation that was an indirect result of the protesters’ efforts on the bridge back in 1965.

Vice President Joe Biden recently participated in a recreation of that civil-rights-era march and he was accompanied by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who was also present during the 1965 sojourn.

“We will never give up or give in,” Lewis told marchers this month.

Lewis, alongside his fellow activists, were infamously beaten by state troopers who violently disrupted their peaceful demonstration.

“President Johnson signed that act, but it was written by the people of Selma,” Lewis once said.

“These national historic landmark designations span more than two centuries of our country’s history, from 17th century architecture to a Civil War battlefield to a 19th century-Kentucky whiskey distillery that continued to operate through the Prohibition era,” Secretary Salazar said. “Today’s designations include significant sites that help tell the story of America and the contributions that all people from all walks of life have made as we strive for a more perfect union.”

“From the Civil War to civil rights, to the struggles and accomplishments of women, African-Americans and Latinos, these sites highlight the mosaic of our nation’s historic past,” said Director Jarvis. “We are proud to administer the National Historic Landmarks Program to educate and inspire Americans through their country’s rich and complex history.”

Tune in Tonight to Obama’s 5th State of the Union Speech!

Presidents deliver State of the Union addresses every year, but their success or failure depends on the success of the policies advocated by the speaker.


President Obama delivers his annual State of the Union speech Tuesday night, but it will be months and maybe years before we know how well he did.

The success of any State of the Union — addresses that presidents have been giving for more than 200 years — depends on the success of the policies and laws that are advocated by the speaker.

“Presidents are judged much more by what they do than by what they say,” residential historian H.W. Brands said.

Coming three weeks and one day after his second inaugural address, Obama is likely to use his State of the Union to outline an ambitious agenda that includes an emphasis on jobs and the economy, debt reduction with new tax revenue, gun control, immigration and climate change.

Though the president will have the full attention of the House and Senate, as well as a national television audience, these are not the easiest speeches to give. Presidents want to cover a lot of ground, and the results can often sound like laundry lists.

As a result, many State of the Union speeches don’t make the history books. Remember President Ronald Reagan’s call for a “New Federalism” in 1982? Or, for that matter, Obama’s declaration of a “Sputnik moment” in 2011?

The truly historic States of the Union — which have been both written and oral over the years — are the ones that signal major events with lasting consequences.

That list includes the Monroe Doctrine that established U.S. primacy over the Western Hemisphere, the Four Freedoms that guided American efforts in World War II and the “war on poverty” of the 1960s.

Despite the challenges, the State of the Union has a major upside for the president: the undivided attention of Congress and the nation.

“It’s an opportunity to amass a large audience to hear your side of the case,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, co-author of Presidents Creating The Presidency: Deeds Done In Words.

When Obama’s motorcade rolls down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday night, he will be fulfilling a constitutional requirement.

In defining the duties of a president, Section 3 of Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution says: “He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

The nation’s first two presidents — George Washington and John Adams — delivered their messages to Congress in person, in the years 1790-1800. The third president,Thomas Jefferson, had a weak speaking voice and opted to send a written message in 1801, a practice successors maintained for more than a century.

President Woodrow Wilson resumed in-person State of the Union speeches in 1913. They developed into one the most powerful weapons in the White House communications arsenal, as improved technology carried presidential messages across the nation and world.

President Calvin Coolidge delivered the first State of the Union on radio in 1923. Harry Truman made the first televised State of the Union in 1947. President Lyndon Johnson upped the ante in 1965, moving the address to prime time, where it has stayed ever since.

About 37.8 million Americans watched Obama deliver the State of the Union last year. The president’s biggest television audience — 52.4 million — came in his first address to a joint session of Congress in 2009 (which technically was not a State of the Union speech because, like all new presidents, Obama wasn’t in a position to truly judge the state of the union).

Obama gets another chance Tuesday with a speech that sets off months of political debate on such topics as debt reduction, gun control, immigration and climate.

The results over the next year will dictate how well this State of the Union address is remembered.

“It’s tempting to think that speeches make history,” Brands said. “But it’s probably the other way around — it’s history that makes the speeches.”

President Obama honors LeBron, NBA Champions Miami Heat

LeBron James speaks after presenting President Barack Obama with a basketball signed by the NBA champions Miami Heat basketball team in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013.

Washington, D.C. — President Barack Obama is honoring the Miami Heat for winning the 2012 NBA Championship title after falling short just a year before.

Obama says every member “doing their part” is what put the Heat over the top, as he welcomed the team to the White House Monday to celebrate their victory. The Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in the NBA Finals last June.

The president also recognized the franchise for supporting military service members and said he was proud that many of them including LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade “take their roles as fathers seriously.”

The crowd of well-wishers included actress Gabrielle Union, U.N. ambassador Susan Rice and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The Heat last visited the White House after winning in 2006.