Keeping the Dream Alive

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C./Photo By: Janelle L. Awls

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C./Photo By: Janelle L. Awls

By: Janelle L. Awls

Hope. Justice. Equality. Freedom. This is what came to mind as I visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. for the first time in the fall of 2011. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., it was an honor and privilege to visit a memorial for an African-American and the only memorial dedicated to a non-president on the National Mall.

Dr. King’s fight for civil rights and equality for all will always be remembered, especially his famous and historic “I Have a Dream Speech.”

Fifty years later, we are still in a fight for justice. Consider the Trayvon Martin case. When an unarmed African-American boy is killed and his killer walks free…what will become of our justice system in the United States of America?

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.” Fifty years later we are still marching ahead for justice.

As we celebrate Black History Month, let us remember those African-Americans who have paved the way for us to go through the door of opportunity!

Check out my column “The Groove” in the fall 2013 issue of W.I.S.E. Magazine.

Remembering A Journalist, A Legend

Former White House Correspondent Helen Thomas Dies at 92
By: Janelle L. Awls
final helen thomas photo

Helen Thomas, former White House correspondent who covered every U.S. president from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama, died on Saturday, July 20, 2013 at the age of 92, after battling a long illness.

While studying at American University in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to cover Helen Thomas as a graduate student in the School of Communication. She was known for her hard and straight-to-the-point questioning of presidents and press secretaries. She was also a phenomenal speaker. It was very intriguing to hear her speak.

President Obama said that Thomas was a “true pioneer” and said she kept the presidents she covered — including himself — on their toes, he said in a written statement.

Thomas will be buried in Detroit, and a memorial service is planned in Washington in October, according to her family.

Here is a story I wrote after hearing Thomas speak.
WASHINGTON—America should not go to war unless we are attacked, we shouldn’t invade other countries that did nothing to us, veteran white house correspondent Helen Thomas said Friday.
Americans have seen a suppression of their first amendment rights and our rights continue to slip away, Thomas said at a plenary session.
“Who are we and what have we become?” Thomas asked. “There is no question that our rights have been chipped away.”
More than 100 journalists, aspiring journalists and guests gathered for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) 2007 Annual Convention in Washington, D.C. to honor Thomas for the 2007 First Amendment Award presented on behalf of The Standing Committee on Professional Freedom and Responsibility.
“When others bent she stood like steel,” Lori Bergen, the moderator from Texas State, San Marcos, said in an introduction. “She has also gone where others have not gone. Helen has been content to be a great reporter, a great reporter. […] I give you the unmistakable silhouette of Helen Thomas.”
After receiving the award, Thomas read The First Amendment.
“[This award] reflects the essence of democracy,” Thomas said. “Maybe we should tell that to the president.”
Thomas said that there is a dangerous expansion of authority, referring to the Bush administration.
Since September 11th, we have seen wiretapping, eavesdropping and an administration that takes prisoners, she said.
“The truth took a holiday,” Thomas said. “There were no weapons of mass destruction. None of their relatives are in this war. The say we’re better off without Saddam Hussein. The are coming out of their coma now. Better late than never.”
In addition, Thomas, who is Arab and American and considers herself American, said that she is sympathetic about the people in the Middle East.
“I think the Iraq War is so wrong,” Thomas said. “It’s pro-Israel. Every administration has been pro-Israel. My attitude is that I have always tried to play it safe and fair.”
When asked if she had relationships in the Middle East, Thomas said, “I have a right to feel sympathy for underdogs.”
“We shouldn’t go a hundred miles to kill people who have different ideologies or a different religion,” Thomas said, referring to the war in Iraq. “You don’t take someone else’s land.”
“It depends where you sit or what type of propaganda you are buying,” she said. “You have not right to go into a country and attack.”
In the end, Thomas said that the press has a heavy burden to keep and eye on government officials.
“It is the responsibility of the press to ask questions of the people and not be intimidated,” Thomas said. “We are not in this profession to be loved, but to seek the truth. No president has ever liked the press.”
In the end, Thomas spoke about her tone of voice.
“I’m a lonely voice, because I don’t have no place to go,” she said. “I’m walking in where angels fear to tread.”
{August 10, 2007}

Appreciating the Art of Music

Photo Courtsey of NC Music Center's Web site

Photo Courtsey of NC Music Center’s Web site

By: Janelle L. Awls

Recently, I wrote an article titled “Appreciating the Art of Music NC Music Center in Charlotte, North Carolina Teaches Students to Pursue Their Dreams & Passion for the Love of Music.”

NC Music Center, LLC is the only African-American owned school located in Charlotte, N.C. It is diverse and consists of all nationalities

In an interview with Nyshia Cook, the executive director and owner of the school, she said “It is critical to have music appreciation in schools in today’s world, because it is simply connecting with the arts.”

The mission of the school is the belief that music is an important building block to life skills like: self-discipline, self-esteem, team work, cultural understanding, citizenship, and communication.

Cook opened a second school–SC Academy of Music in Rock Hill, South Carolina in January 2013.

For more information about the school, go to and

Click here to view the article.

The Second Inauguration of President Barack Obama

President Barack Hussein Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Malia & Sasha Obama at the Second Inauguration on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

President Barack Hussein Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Malia & Sasha Obama at the Second Inauguration on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Carpe Diem-Seize the Day!

By: Janelle L. Awls

On , Thursday, January 18, 2001, I had the opportunity to perform at The Presidential Inaugural Opening Celebration for President George W. Bush & Vice President Richard B. Cheney on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday, January 18, 2001, with the Washington, D.C. Best Friends Choir. As a junior in high school, at the time, it was such an exciting and memorable experience that I will cherish for a lifetime. I remember seeing Muhammad Ali and other famous people.

Nevertheless, it was exciting to watch the second inauguration of our first African-American President Barack Hussein Obama on Monday, January 21, 2013.

In his Inaugural address, President Obama made a significant statement.

“This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.”

Before his inaugural address, Mr. Obama placed his left hand on Bibles belonging to President Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when repeating the oath administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

One part of his speech that is really sentimental says,

“Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm. […] We must act.”

It was also awesome that the Inauguration fell on the holiday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. President Obama is the epitome of Dr. King’s dream!

A Look At Cyberbullying

By: Janelle L. Awls

Photo Courtsey of Nemours/Teens Health Web site

Photo Courtsey of Nemours/Teens Health Web site

The rise of the Internet and social networking sites have changed today’s society. From Facebook to Twitter,
there are many ways for young people to keep in touch with friends, classmates and just enjoy a social life without leaving home.

However, the rise of the World Wide Web has also opened doors for cyberbullying.

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, here are some statistics that young people should be aware of, when it comes to cyberbullying.

Over 80 percent of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most popular form of technology and a common medium for cyber bullying
About half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly
Mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumors are the most common type of cyber bullying
Girls are at least as likely as boys to be cyber bullies or their victims
Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyber bullies than girls
Cyber bullying affects all races
Cyber bullying victims are more likely to have low self esteem and to consider suicide

Recently, I wrote an article titled, “A Look At Cyberbullying Educating Young People about the Crisis.”

Obama Wins Re-election

Defeating Republican Challenger Mitt Romney

Mr. Obama, Mrs. Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha, at his re-election victory in Chicago./Photo by: The Associated Press

By: Janelle L. Awls

President Obama succeeded Republican opponent Mitt Romney and was re-elected to a second term as president of the United States of America, despite the fact that it was a very tight race for the White House.

Mr. Obama had 303 electoral votes, and Romney had 206 electoral votes. Nevertheless, both of the rivals had 49 percent of the popular vote.

Obama won the battleground state of Ohio by 50 percent to 48 percent. He also had victories in other battleground states including: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado and Virginia.

In his victory speech in Chicago, Mr. Obama said that America is on the road to recovery.

“Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that though our road has been hard, our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back and we know in our heart, for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.”

In the end, Romney congratulated the president in his speech in Boston. He said his prayers are with him.

President Clinton on Welfare Reform at DNC

By: Janelle L. Awls

President Bill Clinton speaks at the 2009 Government Leaders Forum–Americas in Leesburg, Va./Photo By: Janelle (Plummer) Awls

When I was in the eighth grade at Jefferson Junior High School in S.W., Washington, D.C., I was selected out of many students to visit the White House. President Bill Clinton spoke on the South Lawn to young people, during an anti-tobacco campaign. I remember wearing a red t-shirt that said, “Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.”

In 2000, when my mom worked for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Devices and Radiological Health one of her colleagues invited us to the Arkansas Party at the White House, during the Clinton administration. It was definitely an awesome experience to see the White House during the Christmas season.

While working as a contractor for Microsoft Corporation in 2009, I had the opportunity to hear President Clinton speak at a conference in Leesburg, Va.

Moreover, President Clinton had an awesome speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. He made an crucial point when he spoke about welfare reform. He said President Obama did not weaken welfare reform’s work requirement.
Clinton also said that “it’s hard for people with good work histories to get jobs today, so moving folks from welfare to work is a real challenge.”

Some believe that welfare spending has increased under the Obama administration. I wrote an article titled, “Welfare State in America: The History and What it means for the Upcoming Presidential Election,” which was published in Freedom Pressed.