The 20th annual Fannie Lou Hamer Awards Reception will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, October 4 at the Frances Scott Key Auditorium at St. John’s College (60 College Ave.) in Annapolis. Sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Anne Arundel County and co-sponsored by St. Johns College, the awards recognize women who have contributed to the advancement of civil and human rights in Anne Arundel County. This year’s honorees – Ann Davis, Lisa Ennis, Karen Slade, Mary DesChamps, Dr. Dawn Lindsay and the Reverend Dr. Diane Dixon-Proctor – join the ranks of over 100 other notable women including Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Administrative Law Judge Tracey Warren Parker and former Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer who have been similarly honored over the past two decades. Many previous winners will be in attendance and recognized. Tickets are $35 in advance, and also will be available at door. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 301-538-6353 or 410-419-2208 or email [email protected].
Fannie Lou Hamer, 1917-1977, was an American voting rights activist, civil rights leader and philanthropist. The awards that bear her name recognize women from various racial backgrounds who, while not necessarily household names, have excelled in their chosen field while working diligently to improve civil and human rights in the region.
“Mrs. Hamer was a feminist and a civil rights heroine,” said Carl Snowden, chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee. “Each year, on the eve of her birthday, Marylanders pause to honor this Mississippian, a sharecropper, who shared a passion for economic and social justice.”
A committee of community residents chooses six outstanding women each year from a list of nominees who live and/or or work in Anne Arundel County. Anne Arundel is the only jurisdiction in the State of Maryland to celebrate Hamer’s memory with awards of this nature.
“We are living right now in a world that is fighting for change on many levels, from social unrest in out cities, to expansive international crises,” said Sen. Mikulski, a 2009 Hamer honoree. “And while the news may seem grim, there is inspiration every day around the world as people come together to bring about peaceful change.”
Ann Davis, a Severna Park resident, has accomplished two aspirations: becoming a teacher and an international missionary. In 2005, Davis and a colleague established the Effective Body of Believers Inc. (EBOB. EBOB’s goal is to improve the lives of the needy in the Caribbean. In 2011, the organizations expanded its outreach to local homeless men and women.
Mary DesChamps, a native New Yorker who now resides in Severn, has worked for several law firms in the District of Columbia. The treasurer of the West County Democratic Club, she helped with fundraising events and voter registration during the 2008 presidential election. DesChamps also serves on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee and the Anne Arundel County Central Democratic Club. Additionally, supports A Legacy Left Behind, a group that helps young adults in crisis overcome their obstacles.
Reverend Dr. Diane Dixon-Proctor hails from Harlem in NYC. Her Grandmother taught her the importance of making a difference through the Civil Rights Movement, participating in sit-ins and voter registration. She is recognized as a Foot Soldier having participated in the 1963 March On Washington. Currently serving as the Lead Pastor of Lincoln Park United Methodist Church in Washington D.C., Dixon-Proctor resides in Glen Burnie.
Lisa Ennis is a native of Crofton. Known by her peers as the “Swift Shift Strategist,” Ennis is renowned for her sound advice and resourcefulness. She is the president of the Ty-Ci Group, which includes the Spa Sanctuary and Visions Consulting Services. Ennis also takes the time to mentor young women and other budding entrepreneurs.
Dr. Dawn Lindsay is the sixth president of Anne Arundel Community College. A resident of Annapolis, Dr. Lindsay has dedicated over 25 years to the community college system. She is a member of the board of directors for the League for Innovation in the Community College and serves on the American Association of Community Colleges Commission on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity, among other national and regional boards.
Karen Andersen Slade’s 32-year career with Lockheed Martin has taken her all over the U.S. and the world. She currently is the Network and Performance Analysis Manager, managing the Network Control Center for the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) network. Slade, who lives in Bowie, also is the Director of the SladeChild Foundation, which provides food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical care to destitute children.
The Oct. 4 ceremony will include musical performances by Antonette Maddox and Randi Roberts as well as the Annapolis debut of “This Little Light of Mine: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Legacy,” a documentary film on Hamer’s life by Robin Hamilton, a freelance journalist for Tribune and owner of her own production company, Around Robin.
Fannie Lou Hamer was the last of 20 children born to Mississippi sharecropper parents. She was instrumental in organizing Mississippi Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and later became the Vice-Chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, attending the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, N.J., in that capacity.
Her plainspoken manner and fervent belief in the Biblical righteousness of her cause gained her a reputation as an electrifying speaker. She ran for Congress in 1964 and 1965, and was seated as a member of Mississippi’s official delegation to the Democratic National Convention of 1968, where she was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War.
Hamer died at the age of 57. Her tombstone is engraved with one of her famous quotes, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
The Annapolis based Martin Luther King Jr. Committee Inc., founded in 1988, hosts two major events each year, the annual Fannie Lou Hamer Reception in October honoring woman of different racial backgrounds who have made contributions to the community, state and nation. The second event is the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner held in January to honor those local citizens whose leadership in civil rights has helped keep Dr. King’s legacy alive. The proceeds from these events is being used to pay off the debt incurred by building the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial.
The MLK Jr. Committee has successfully placed three memorials to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Anne Arundel County funded by private donations. A bronze statue of King was erected at Anne Arundel Community College in 2006 after the Committee raised more than $250,000. In 2011, the Committee dedicated a plaque and garden tribute to Dr. King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, at Sojourner Douglass College in Edgewater, MD and in 2013 erected a monument in Annapolis to the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers who marched in the famous 1963 “I have a dream” civil rights march on Washington.