The Search for Solutions to School-to-Prison Pipeline

The Search for Solutions to School-to-Prison Pipeline

By George Kevin Jordan, Special to the AFRO

Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL 24th District) has a mission – pull young Black boys out of the school-to-prison pipeline. She hopes her 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project is the ticket to providing diplomas and degrees instead of prison sentences.

Wilson had big help pushing her project during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest, D.C.

The Rev. Al Sharpton was on the panel, as well as actor and activist Erika Alexander, “America To Me” director Steve James, Dr. Cedric Alexander, national president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and George Ray III, current contestant on the “Grand Hustle” series on BET Networks.

The Excellence project started in Miami-Dade County when Wilson saw the young men her community rushed into the prison system, working in the drug trade or dropping out of school.

On a national level there were 1,506,800 people in prison at the end of 2016, according to the Department of Justice. There were 487,300 Black prisoners, or 41.3 percent. This is in comparison to 39 percent White prisoners.

When it comes to school drop outs, the number of Black boys who drop out between the ages of 16-24 has dropped nationally to 6.2 percent. But that number is still higher that the national average and White students’ 6.1 percent and 5.2 percent respectively, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

In 1993, when Wilson started her program, it almost immediately caught national attention. Several sitting presidents and vice-presidents, including Barack Obama have supported the project. The initiative provides leadership and mentoring to young Black boys during a critical time in their lives.

The panel dissected many of the issues that impact a child’s trajectory to the school to prison system.  Dr. Alexander spoke about police officers using more discretion and thinking of the larger community when arresting people.

“The law is what the law is,” Dr. Alexander said, who heads up the National Organization of Black law Enforcement Executives. “But what we can ask them  [police officers] to do is use some judgement. Do you really want to hurt someone over an infraction? We as police officers have to have discretion.”

“I think what we are beginning to see as we’re training officers to have better relationships, we find some, not all, but some are mindful of the fact that there is a larger community watching you.”

Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III, who is mayor of Miami Gardens, Florida, said citizens need to be mindful of how much they want police involved with their students at schools.

“We can’t over police our schools,” Gilbert said. “We can’t use police at schools as conduct supervisors. Understand if you ask a police officer to come to our schools and they witness a crime that kid is going to jail.”

Gilbert further cautioned, “We have to be careful of the part we are playing in this narrative.”

For George Ray, III who currently stars on “The Grand Hustle” series, Congresswoman Wilson intervened at the right time in his life. “She’s my fairy godmother,” Ray said to the packed crowd. The business professor spoke of facing 15 years in prison at 15 years old. The congresswoman happened upon his life and “instead of peddling drugs I had someone peddling hope.”

“She took me everywhere with her, she kept me so busy I couldn’t get in trouble if I tried,” Ray said of his relationship with Wilson.

Currently, the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project services 105 schools within Miami-Dade County Public Schools (37 Elementary, 35 Middle/K-8, and 33 Senior High), according to the organization.

COMMENTARY: Our Children’s Education is on the Ballot this Year

COMMENTARY: Our Children’s Education is on the Ballot this Year

Submitted to the AFRO by Elijah E. Cummings

More than half a century ago, my parents and a wonderful teacher named Mr. Hollis Posey followed their hearts and championed my right to learn.  As a result, I received the empowering education in our City’s public schools that would transform my life.

Although I am grateful that I received the “thorough and efficient public education” that is guaranteed to every child by Article VIII of Maryland’s constitution, I am deeply troubled that all of Maryland’s children are not receiving this most basic foundation for successful, productive lives.

A widely acknowledged study in 2016 found that Maryland’s public schools are under-funded by $2.9 billion each year.

In response, the Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education [typically referred to as the Kirwan Commission] has determined that significantly more funding will be required to give every Maryland child a reasonable chance in life, especially children living in those communities with the deepest concentrations of poor families.

Both our values and our long-term self-interest demand that we speak truth to power about correcting this failure.

Far too many of Maryland’s children are being relegated to a future devoid of competence or hope.  This is an unacceptable failing – and it’s up to us, as voters, to assure that those we elect in November are committed to providing our children’s public schools with the funding that they need and deserve.

Although public education is primarily a state and local (rather than a federal) responsibility, the President and Congress have an important role in funding the public education of economically disadvantaged students (Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) and students with disabilities (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

Currently, annual federal education funding for Title I and IDEA is significant (just under $16 billion and $12 billion, respectively).  However, these appropriations have not kept up with the rising cost of educating our students, nor with the legitimate needs of states like Maryland for a more robust and realistic federal partnership.

The President and his Republican congressional allies have failed to adequately address this challenge.  Democrats in Congress have had to fight just to avoid significant cuts in federal education funding.

As a result, our nation’s schools are no longer the envy of the world, a reality that threatens our long-term national security.

Maryland’s Democratic delegation to Washington understands that we must significantly expand federal education funding – but only by electing a Democratic majority to the next Congress can we make this commitment a reality.

Despite Governor Hogan’s assertions that Maryland is devoting more support to public education than ever before, the Kirwan Commission has acknowledged that far too many of our school children are being short-changed, especially in jurisdictions like Baltimore City.

On Election Day this year, we will decide whether Republican Larry Hogan or his Democratic challenger, Ben Jealous, will make the education of our children his top priority and fulfill our constitutional duty.

As a Maryland voter, I am a strong supporter of Ben Jealous’ candidacy to become our next Governor.  Maryland’s teachers, through their Education Association’s endorsement, are supporting him as well.

As a Past President of our national NAACP, Ben Jealous is painfully aware (as am I) that the percentage of Maryland public school students living in poverty has more than doubled since 1990 (from 22 percent to 45 percent).  We understand that properly educating all of our students, as well as meeting the rising cost of special education, will require a substantial and sustained infusion of additional state funding.

Drawing upon the Kirwan Commission’s upcoming final report and recommendations, our next Governor and State Legislature will have the duty to revise Maryland’s school funding formula for the first time in nearly two decades.  The Commission is expected to recommend increasing the base, per-pupil state funding from $6,860 to $10,880 for each school child.

These challenges, I believe, are why Mr. Jealous has publicly committed (1) to fully implement the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations during the upcoming 2019 legislative session; (2) to raise our teachers’ salaries by 29 percent; (3) to implement full-day, universal Pre-K; (4) and to more effectively target state education funding to those school districts with the largest concentrations of poverty.

On Election Day, our voters can also approve an amendment to Maryland’s constitution that will guarantee that public education’s share of the state’s casino revenues is fully committed to funding public education (Question 1).  This guarantee will provide an additional $500 million in annual state funding for our schools, an important first step toward closing the current $2.9 billion funding gap.

Both Ben Jealous and Larry Hogan have declared that they support Question 1.   However, Governor Hogan has yet to adequately explain why he diverted $1.4 billion of our State’s casino money from public education (as voters were originally promised it would be invested) to other purposes.

When I visit our children’s classrooms, I look into our students’ eager faces and know that we must act with a sense of urgency to adequately invest in their future.  On Election Day, God willing, Maryland’s voters will commit our State to a better future for us all, one filled with confidence, competence and hope.

Congressman Elijah Cummings represents Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.

This post originally appeared in the AFRO. The opinions on this page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the AFRO.

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COMMENTARY: You Don’t Have to Break the Bank to Give Back to HBCUs

COMMENTARY: You Don’t Have to Break the Bank to Give Back to HBCUs

By Harry L. Williams

Earlier this year, a man named Jack Weldon Patrick passed away in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. A long-time lawyer, Patrick was remembered as a family man, an advocate for social justice, and a respected community leader.

One day a check arrived by mail for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) in memory of Jack Weldon Patrick. A few days later, another one arrived, and a few weeks later, another check. Individual donations kept coming to support the work of TMCF and our publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in honor of Jack. His obituary read, “in lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial donations in Jack’s name to causes he cared deeply about.” One of those causes was TMCF.

So many of us outside of TMCF headquarters and Menomonee may have never known Jack as a stalwart of access and opportunity for students attending Black colleges. Many of us aren’t even aware that Jack was part of the reason why in 2016, private giving and contracts earned by HBCUs increased for a second straight year, posting a four-year high of $320 million. But we do know he was a living embodiment of the famous quote by Nelson Henderson: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

While philanthropic anonymity is honorable, philanthropic leadership helps organizations like TMCF reach new supporters, encouraging new donor circles to give. Showcasing the faces and stories of those who give is an important tool in cultivating similar donors, encouraging a culture of giving around our campuses. This is a critical strategy that grows an organization’s base of support every year. For non-profit organizations, individual giving is the largest type of charitable gift – four times the amount as the next largest category in 2015, according to Giving USA.

Organizations like TMCF thrive due to the generosity of individuals who believe in our work and want to expand our impact, through monthly and annual donations, as well as the legacy gift. TMCF combines these individuals’ gifts with foundation grants and partnerships with major corporations and government agencies to provide the funds that allow us to transform lives. It takes a philanthropic village to develop young minds, and we are humbled to be good stewards of the resources that our donors and partners entrust to us.

TMCF, its 47 member-schools and the nearly 300,000 students attending them each year, want to play a role in redefining HBCU philanthropy and support. The data on finances and the number of degrees we produce in areas like STEM, education, social sciences and criminal justice already show just how productive HBCUs continue to be in graduating Black students. Seventy percent of our publicly-supported HBCUs attendees are first generation college students (like I was) and eligible for Pell Grants. In comparison, the national average is only 37 percent for all public schools. By providing this quality education, students transform their lives and prepare to enter economically sustainable careers. Now TMCF wants to illustrate that same culture within our giving networks.

Anyone believing in the power of education to transform lives should invest in HBCUs. This includes alumni who want to have a tangible way to support their schools. All people in our networks at work, at church, in our communities, fraternities and sororities, and other circles of activity are worthy of soliciting for support. Age, earnings and personality are not elements for disqualifying those who might be willing to give, or those who have the capacity to do so.

So today, we honor one man—Jack Weldon Patrick—and his commitment to HBCUs, and we thank his friends and family for their continued investment in the work of TMCF. We hope his example encourages others to consider impacting people’s lives by supporting our nation’s HBCUs.

Grosso Sponsors Bill to Help DC Student Loan Borrowers

Grosso Sponsors Bill to Help DC Student Loan Borrowers

By David Grosso, Special to The Afro

In May, many undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in the District of Columbia received their degrees. If they haven’t already, many are also waiting for  something else – a bill for their student loans.

Many District graduates and working professionals are grappling with student loan debt and it has become a barrier for the purchase of a home and automobile. D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) is aware of this crisis and authored legislation “The Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Act of 2017“, that is designed to deal with exploding student debt.

Grosso is the chairman of the Committee on Education and held a hearing on this bill June 25. “Student loan debt is unavoidable for many people,” the Council member said. “When I was in school, I financed my education through work-study programs and other education partners.”

PRNewswire published a story in its June 26 edition that 10 percent of student loan borrowers in the District owe more than $100,000, the highest in the nation. The article said that 25 percent of the District’s population has an advanced degree (master’s and professional).

Grosso’s legislation would empower an office of the ombudsman to help borrowers and set guidelines for District residents to relieve their student loan debt. The bill has the support of D.C. Council members Trayon White (D-Ward 8), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7).

Dr. Eddy Ameen, a District career psychologist, testified at the hearing that financial stress is a factor for students in the higher education realm. “While survey data can tell you how important it is, I receive frequent phone calls and visits from members that are riddled with debt,” he said. “That’s all they can do to succumb to it.”

Ameen said many of his patients wish they had alternatives to student loans for financing education and wish there was an active program that suited them to forgive their debt. He said the majority or nearly half of the people in his field have delayed saving for the future, retirement planning, buying a house, and having children because of student loan debt.

Ameen said he likes Grosso’s bill and encouraged him to, among other things, encourage student loan debt from federal institutions and not private concerns and requested that the bill include District public workers who graduated before 2016. He also said that while $75,000 is a great deal of money in other parts of the country, in the District it is almost an average salary and adjustments must be made to take that into account.

In addition, Ameen wants the public service loan forgiveness program to be more active in the District.

Shana Young, chief of staff for the District’s Office of State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), told Grosso that establishing an ombudsman could be problematic because many District residents would have to be helped by this program and that could be overwhelming. “We appreciate the bill’s sponsors attempting to address student loan debt, which is a significant concern for many District residents,” Young said.

Grosso said the bill “is a work in progress” and offered his opinions. “Perhaps borrowers should be required to take financial literacy classes before they take on these loans,” he said.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

New Study Finds Disparities Among College Graduates

New Study Finds Disparities Among College Graduates

By AFRO Staff

A new study investigates inequity beyond college doors, showing that even Black and Hispanic students who earn tertiary degrees face disparities.

The report, The Neglected College Race Gap: Racial Disparities Among College Completers, which was authored by the Center for American Progress, went beyond the usual examination of education disparities in graduation rates and college access rates. And, in focusing on college graduates, the report found what it called “serious inequities” in areas such as the type of degrees and quality of education.

Among the major findings:

  • Compared with White students, Black and Hispanic graduates are far more likely to have attended for-profit colleges and less likely to have attended four-year public or nonprofit institutions.
  • Black and Hispanic graduates are more likely to attend institutions that have less money to spend on quality education.
  • Black and Hispanic students are less likely to hold degrees in critical fields such as engineering and education, mathematics and statistics, and the physical sciences.

Recommendations from the report include investigating means by which students of color may be discouraged from pursuing certain degrees, such as by higher tuition pricing and poor or biased student advisement.

The authors concluded by saying, “Finding a path to equity in the types of credentials students get is not only a moral imperative for this country but is also crucial to its future success.”

Steve Harvey Secures nearly $10k for D.C. Boys School

Steve Harvey Secures nearly $10k for D.C. Boys School

By Lenore T. Adkins, Special to the AFRO

Thanks to comedian-turned-talk show host Steve Harvey, an office superstore is donating a $5,000 gift card to a Washington, D.C. public charter school for Black and Latino boys that is opening this summer.

What’s more, North Star College Preparatory Academy for Boys’ appearance on the show prompted 50 people to donate $4,500 while it was still on, Rictor Craig, the school’s founding director of instruction told the AFRO.

The school will use the gift card from Office Depot for school supplies and printing needs. On the episode of the “Steve Harvey Show” that aired May 11, Harvey said the gift wouldstart the school off on the right foot.

“I like this man, I think what you’re doing is great,” Harvey told the school’s leadership team on his show. “… What you’re doing is essential and I congratulate you.”

The school’s five founders appeared on the show to explain the school’s mission and what they hope to achieve once it opens. Founded in 2018, the school, at 3701 Hayes Street NE, opens Aug. 20 with 85 fourth grade boys.

It’ll add a grade every year, ending with eighth grade. The school pays for the boys’ school supplies and uniforms and raises money for extras, like a planned eight-grade trip to Africa, Europe and South America to learn about the slave trade. The trip will follow a five-year unit focused on the Middle Passage.

“We have promised to provide school supplies and materials free of charge so that our students and their parents and teachers don’t have that as a distraction to their learning and their work,” Shawn Hardnett, the school’s founder and executive director told the AFRO via e-mail.  “…At North Star Academy for Boys, that won’t be a problem for parents. That $5,000 dollars from the Office Max/Depot from the Steve Harvey show will be used to support that.”

The school is housed within the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy, for now, and founders are scouting a permanent location.

The school was launched after the founders polled African-American and Latino boys, observed public, private and parochial schools across America, talked to successful Black and Hispanic men and culled national research to figure how to open a school nurtures these boys and turns them into future leaders.

Hardnett said it all starts with having high expectations for these boys.

“The boys continued to say in various ways, ‘Love us, don’t be afraid of us. Build relationships with us and then have an expectation for us,’” Hardnett told Harvey. “People rise to the occasion. What they were saying is ‘Create an occasion for us to rise to and we’ll get there.’”

Craig echoed those sentiments.

“In order to build a school for Black and Brown boys, we have to build a school withBlack and Brown boys,” he told Harvey.

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VIDEO: Baltimore Students March Against Gun Violence

VIDEO: Baltimore Students March Against Gun Violence

Hundreds of students from area high schools walked out of their classrooms today and took to the streets of East Baltimore to protest gun violence.

Students from schools including Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute marched down Fayette St., to City Hall in the spirit of the protests that have erupted around the country in wake of the massacre of 17 students and teachers at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, Feb. 14.

“End the silence, stop gun violence,” was the theme of the protest, demanding safer schools and better gun laws to prevent violent acts.

Baltimore high school students march to City Hall protesting gun violence on March 6. (Video by Sean Yoes)

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Will Maryland HBCUs Receive Justice This Legislative Session?

Will Maryland HBCUs Receive Justice This Legislative Session?

by: Deborah Bailey Special to the AFRO

While Maryland HBCU Coalition plaintiffs are in formal settlement negotiations with the state, the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland (LBCM), is following through on a promise made at the start of the 2018 session to, “actively promote legislation to support HBCUs” in the halls of the Maryland General Assembly.

“We must use all of the Democratic tools available to us to bring justice to Maryland’s HBCUs and the communities served by them,” said Rev. Kobi Little, political action chair of the Maryland NAACP Conference.

“We only have to look at the State’s federal appeal of Judge Blake’s decision to see that we can’t afford to limit our approach to the court,” Little said.

A half-dozen pieces of legislation impacting the state’s four HBCUs are under consideration in the Maryland General Assembly his year, including the HBI Comparability Program, presented each year for the past decade by Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-43).   Conway’s bill has not been voted out of committee yet, nor has its companion bill on the House of Delegates side, HB-450, whose primary sponsor is Del. Nick Mosby (D-40).

“At this stage of the legislative process, if a Senate or House bill has not reached the General Assembly floor, the bill is not “dead” but has a longer process to become law in the state of Maryland,” Little said.

Bills and amendments in support of HBCU’s proposed in the 2018 session of the Maryland General Assembly include:

  • HB450/SB252 –Blount-Rawlings-Britt HBI Comparability Program Establishing the Blount-Rawlings-Britt HBI Comparability Program to provide supplemental funding assistance to the State’s public 4-year historically Black institutions (HBIs) ensuring HBIs are comparable and competitive with other State 4-year public institutions of higher education. Primary sponsors: Senator Joan Carter Conway/Delegate Nick Mosby
  • HB1062/SB827 –Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Appointment of a Special Advisor – Development of a Remedial Plan (HBCU Equity Act of 2018).  Primary sponsors: Delegate Charles E. Sydnor/Senator Joan Carter Conway
  • HB1753/SB776 -HBCU Internship in Maryland Government Scholarship Program: Establishing the HBCU Internship in Maryland Government Scholarship Program to award scholarships to HBCU students so that they may explore State government career opportunities: Primary sponsors:  Delegate Cheryl Glenn/Senator Joanne C. Benson
  • HB1819/SB615 -Higher Education Cyber Warrior Diversity Program: Establishing the program at Baltimore City Community College, Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (Senate Amended language): Primary Sponsors: Delegate Michael A. Jackson/Senator Barbara Robinson
  • HB1665 – Income Tax Credit – up to $250,000 of income tax credits for certain donations to Endowments of Maryland Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Primary sponsor: Nick Mosby
  • HB1630 -Higher Education – James Proctor Scholarship Program – Established. Primary Sponsors: Delegate Joseph F. Vallario (passed House of Delegates with amendments on 3/12/2018)

“This is where constituents of my district  and Maryland residents across the state must become involved in the legislative process if they wish to see the change they want in the world,” said Mosby.

“Your presence here in Annapolis counts,” said Del. Charles E. Sydnor, III (D-44B), primary House of Delegates sponsor of the HBCU Equity Act of 2018 (HB 1062).

Sydnor said when Attorney General Brian Frosh filed a motion to have Judge Catherine Blake’s ruling in favor of HBCU plaintiffs set-aside, he knew legislation would be necessary to reinforce the ruling in the HBCU Equity lawsuit.

“To make Judge Blake’s ruling the law of the land, lawmakers need to see the people whom it matters to,” Sydnor said. ‘Testifying orally [at General Assembly hearings] means an awful lot to the General Assembly,” Sydnor told HBCU advocates.

MLBC Chair Del. Cheryl Glenn (D-45), urged citizens to contact their Delegates and Senators directly to support HBCU legislation.

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COMMENTARY: What Kind of Nation Have We Become When We Fail to Protect Our Children?

COMMENTARY: What Kind of Nation Have We Become When We Fail to Protect Our Children?

In the wake of yet another mass slaughter of innocent Americans, I am writing to implore my colleagues in both the Congress and our state legislatures to go to CNN’s website and listen carefully to the words of a young American named Cameron Kasky. You can find his declaration of principle and truth on

This 17-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is demonstrating more courage, moral clarity and determination about the danger of unregulated guns in America (and, especially, the danger to us all of high-powered, military grade, semi-automatic weapons) than are many of the women and men with whom I serve.

As most Americans now know, on February 14 (Valentine’s Day), Cameron Kasky, his brother, Holden, and all of the students and teachers at their Parkland, FL, high school were forced to fear for their lives.  A deranged person had picked up a lawfully purchased AR-15, took it to the school, and methodically murdered 17 people, injuring another 14.

We also know that, in the era after the Columbine massacre of 1999 (13 dead and 24 injured), mass slaughters with semi-automatic weapons have become a harsh, terrifying and unacceptable reality of American life.

Just as we must redouble our efforts to reduce the violence in places like Chicago and Baltimore, we cannot – and we must not – forget the sense of loss and personal devastation that we felt after Virginia Tech (32 dead).  We cannot brush aside the primitive brutality of Binghamton, NY (14 dead), or Aurora, CO (12 dead), or Sandy Hook (the lives of 27 children and teachers methodically destroyed).

We must act.  Our national conscience and sense of security and self-worth cannot withstand any more breaking headlines – any more mass killings in San Bernadino, CA (14 killed), Orlando, FL (49 massacred),  Las Vegas, NV (58 killed and 546 injured), or Texas (26 killed).

Now, if you think that this partial listing of the butcher’s bill from our failure to adequately regulate semi-automatic weapons of war is incomplete, you are correct.  There is insufficient room in this newspaper to adequately remember all of the casualties from the gun violence that our nation has endured.

What should be heartening to us, however, is the determination and clarity that Cameron Kasky and young people across America are expressing in their challenge to their elected representatives, their governors and the President of the United States.

“At the end of the day,” Cameron observed in his CNN interview, “the students at my school felt one shared experience – our politicians abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools….”

“Our community just took 17 bullets to the heart,” he continued, “and it feels like the only people who don’t care are the people who are making the laws.”

I must agree.

There is no period of silence, no equivocating delay, no overreaching argument about the constitutional sanctity of our Second Amendment that is adequate to counterman a simple, compelling and unavoidable truth.

Cameron Kasky is speaking truth to power when he declares that, as a nation, we are failing to protect our people from this carnage.  Most unforgivable of all, we are failing to protect the lives of our school children.

Every last elected official in America, and every last citizen who voted for us (or failed to vote at all), bears a measure of responsibility for this failure and its bloody toll on human lives.  Yet, as Cameron Kasky also acknowledges, we are not all equally culpable.

“The truth,” he observed, “is that the politicians on both sides of the aisle are to blame. The Republicans, generally speaking, take large donations from the NRA and are therefore beholden to their cruel agenda. And the Democrats lack the organization and the votes to do anything about it.”

We, who have been elected to serve and protect our Constitution and the American People, can only stand before this challenge, acknowledge our failures and seek to reclaim our honor.

As a first honest step, we can acknowledge that before the federal assault weapons ban expired, it did not stop all killings, but it did significantly reduce the carnage.  We who serve in the Congress have the power, right now, to renew those protections.

The proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2018 [H.R. 5087], sponsored by my colleague, Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, now has more than 173 co-sponsors.  Senator Diane Feinstein’s companion bill [S.2095] has 29.  I, along with all of Maryland’s Democratic Delegation, am fighting for its passage.

However, in proof of Cameron Kasky’s indictment, there are no Republicans in support of these modest, protective measures, only a few Republicans support strengthened background checks, and a Republican House and Senate leadership, beholden to the NRA, is denying us the ability to even have a floor debate and up-or-down vote.

Nevertheless, I am cautiously optimistic that the will of the American People will prevail.  A recent Quinnipiac opinion poll found that 67 percent of Americans (including 43 percent of Republicans) now favor an assault weapons ban.  Even more encouraging, the young people of our nation (along with many of us who are older) are mobilizing.

This growing movement for greater safety, security and sanity in our national discussion about guns – this March for Our Lives – will be bringing upwards of 500,000 Americans to Washington, DC, on March 24th – with companion marches across the nation, including here in Baltimore.  For more information, go to on your Web browser.

Even if you can’t march on the 24th, please remember this.  Our Constitution (including its Second Amendment) was not designed to be a collective suicide pact.  It was designed to protect the safety, as well as the liberty, of the American People.

Above all else, and whatever political obstacles may be placed in our path, we must protect our nation’s children.  Our sacred oaths and honor demand that – and more.

Congressman Elijah Cummings represents Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.

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NAACP: Black students suffer daily abuse at Maryland school

NAACP: Black students suffer daily abuse at Maryland school

PASADENA, Md. (AP) — Following reports of a teacher calling a student a racial slur and a social media post targeting Black students, a local NAACP chapter says Black students at a Maryland high school are subject to daily abuse and humiliation.

Anne Arundel County NAACP President Rev. Stephen Tillett said at a press conference on March 13 that families have seen “a decades-long pattern of resistance to change and the creation of a hostile environment for children of color” at Chesapeake High School and feeder schools.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier told The Capital the school system wants to combat the system of intimidation Tillett describes. He said Chesapeake’s principal met with the NAACP March 13.

Investigators identified the threat’s poster as a Black student, but Tillett says the student’s identity doesn’t negate other experiences.

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