Mayor Cohen will be recognizing the efforts of the City’s African American Alderpersons on October 27th at an invitation only ceremony at the Banneker Douglas Museum. The award appears to be an award established this year since the honorees date back to 1995 when Carl Snowden was an Alderman. Despite not having won the election or serving as an Alderperson, Rhonda Pindell Charles is also included among the honorees.
[Updated] According to Rhonda Wardlaw, Public Information Officer for the City, this is a long standing award with a plaque that has been housed in the Banneker Douglas Museum (along with one for African American police officers). The award and ceremony was dropped back in 2009 and is being resurrected in connection with the festivities surrounding Maryland Emancipation Day. According to an article on the Annapolis Patch, there is a movement to get Maryland Emancipation Day recognized as a holiday in November 2014. Wardlaw confirmed that no public monies are being spent on this ceremony. She further stated that Charles’ name would not be added to the plaque and would be added if and when she wins the election.
The William H. Butler Public Service Award is named after William H. Butler who was the City’s first black Alderman and possibly the first African American elected to office in the State of Maryland. According to the Maryland State Archives,
Butler’s ground-breaking achievements also extended to the political arena. His civic leadership and wealth probably made him an attractive candidate to be Annapolis’ first African American elected city official. In 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting black men the right to vote. Predominantly supporters of the Republican Party, these newly registered voters often provided important swing votes in tight local elections. Aware of their influence, the Republican Party in Annapolis seemed particularly responsive to African Americans. This may explain why local Republican leaders selected Butler to run in the 1873 Annapolis municipal election. Although Butler received fewer votes than any other Republican candidate, he defeated the Democratic challengers to earn a seat on the council. Serving as city alderman from 1873 to 1875, Butler became the first known African American to be elected to public office in Maryland.25 Butler paved the path for future black Maryland politicians, including William H. Butler, Jr. (Annapolis alderman, 1893-1897), his son and a schoolteacher, and businessman Wiley H. Bates (Annapolis alderman, 1897-1899).
The invitation to the Sunday afternoon ceremony was sent out earlier this week. Eye On Annapolis has learned that this is not open to the public and we have redacted the specific time and RSVP information.
Mayor Joshua J. Cohen cordially invites you to attend the Presentation Ceremony William H. Butler Public Service Award Recognizing African American Alderpersons City of Annapolis 2013 Honorees Alderwoman Sheila M. Finlayson Alderwoman Classie Gillis Hoyle Alderman Kenneth A. Kirby Former Alderwoman Cynthia Abney Carter Former Alderman George O. Kelley, Sr. Former Alderman Carl O. Snowden Former Alderman Wayne Taylor Alderwoman-Elect Rhonda Pindell Charles Sunday, October 27, 2013 [blackout]4:00pm to 6:00pm[/blackout] Banneker Douglass Museum 84 Franklin St., Annapolis, MD 21401 RSVP to [blackout]firstname.lastname@example.org[/blackout] or 410-263-[blackout]7997[/blackout]