The 29th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner will be held Friday, Jan. 13, at 6 p.m. The largest celebration of Dr. King’s birthday in Anne Arundel County will be held at La Fountaine Bleue in Glen Burnie. The Naval Academy Gospel Choir will perform, with an address by Reverend Dr. Kevin W. Cosby, nationally televised speaker at boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s recent funeral service. Among the 10 honorees acknowledged at the event are: Annapolis Fire Department Deputy Chief Kevin Simmons for his dedication to increasing opportunities for minorities and women in local fire departments, Patience Schenck for her work to educate the white community of Annapolis on white privilege, and Dr. Alyson L. Hall, M.D., on her commitment to minority healthcare in Anne Arundel County. Dinner tickets are $60-100, and may be purchased online at www.mlkcskmd.org, by phone at 410-760-4115; or by mail to MLK Jr. Committee, PO Box 371, Annapolis, Md. 21404. For more information, call 301-538-6353.
In June 2016, Cosby delivered the eulogy for Ali’s funeral. Quoting Martin Luther King, Jr., he said, “The greatest and the most profound affect that the civil rights struggle had was that it infused in the negro something that the negro needed all along—and that was a sense of somebodiness.”
Cosby, of Louisville, Ky., has served as senior pastor at St. Stephens Church since 1979. With a congregation of more than 14,000, the church has been recognized as one of the 100 largest churches in America, and one of the six “super” churches of the south. In 2005, Cosby was named the 13th president of Simmons College of Kentucky, and refused the college’s generous salary. Cosby has authored five books, participated in documentaries, and has been recognized for his leadership and contributions to the Louisville community.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner in Anne Arundel County was founded in 1988 by then Alderman Carl O. Snowden. Designed to pay homage to the memory of Dr. King, the dinner honors those whose deeds, words, and actions have helped keep his legacy alive. With honorees from the county and greetings from U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen and members of the U.S. House of Representatives John Sarbanes and Dutch Ruppersberger, the banquet is a reflection on the best that Anne Arundel County has to offer.
Other winners of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. awards who will be recognized for their dedication to the ideals of Dr. King include: Anne Arundel County Chief of Police Timothy J. Altomare, Maryland State Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Honorable Annapolis Alderman Kenneth A. Kirby, Terry Patton, Midshipman First Class Megan Rosenberger, Alicia A. Smoot, and Annapolis Police Department Sergeant James C. Spearman, Jr.
The MLK Jr. Awards Dinner is presented by the Annapolis-based Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, Inc. at La Fontaine Bleue, 7514 Richie Highway, Glen Burnie. Dinner tickets are $60 ($65 after January 9). VIP tickets are $100 and include premium seating and a private reception before the dinner with hors d’oeuvres and an open bar.
LIST OF HONOREES
Moris H. Blum Humanitarian Award
Annapolis Fire Department Deputy Chief Kevin Simmons is the recipient of the Moris H. Blum Humanitarian Award. Simmons is honored for his 35-year commitment to the Annapolis Fire Department, and for his role as chair of the Diversity Committee of the Metropolitan Council of Fire Chiefs. He is also recognized for his to work to further opportunities for people of color and women in local fire departments.
Since 2010, Simmons has been Deputy Chief of Planning, where he leads emergency management, fire department training, public outreach, public information, and the fire marshal’s office. As emergency manager for Annapolis, Simmons has guided the city through many hurricanes.
Previously, Simmons worked with We Care and Friends, establishing and providing administrative oversight to Annapolis’ Stanton Center as an overnight warming shelter, providing meals, counseling, and fellowship to patrons.
Prior to his Annapolis career, Simmons began his fire service in the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue, where he chaired the Diversity Committee of the Metropolitan Council of Fire Chiefs. In that role, Simmons developed plans and processes to increase the inclusion of minorities and women in the fire service by advising the fire chiefs on retention through supervisory training, mentoring, and other support programs.
Simmons was a founding father of the Howard County Phoenix Sentinels, which worked with the Howard County Fire Department and the Howard County Administration to remove barriers that prevented minorities and women from entry-level and promotional opportunities.
Simmons has a master’s degree from the University of Baltimore and has completed the Executive Education Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He resides in Annapolis with his wife Celeste and daughter Haley.
Peace Maker Award
Patience Schenck is a recipient of the Peace Maker Award. A retired teacher, she works to educate the white community of the negative outcomes of white privilege. She founded the Working Group on Racism within the Baltimore Quakers Yearly Meeting, the regional Quaker organization, and has offered several workshops at their annual gatherings. Schenck writes reviews of books covering the topic of racism for a Quaker magazine. Schenck is a member of the Executive Committee of the Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform, the Annapolis Human Relations Council, and the Annapolis Friends Meeting.
Schenck’s son is a New Orleans jazz musician, and her daughter volunteers with refugees in Germany. She has three grandchildren. Schenck is a resident of Annapolis.
Alan Hilliard Legum Civil Rights Award
Dr. Alyson L. Hall, M.D., is a recipient of the Alan Hilliard Legum Civil Rights Award. A board-certified ophthalmologist, Hall’s award recognizes her commitment to minority healthcare in Anne Arundel County. As a chairperson for the Anne Arundel County Minority Business Enterprise Committee, she worked to promote equal business opportunity and utilization of women- and minority-owned firms.
This award, which is named after the late Annapolis civil rights lawyer, Alan Hilliard. Legum, will be presented by members of Legum’s family.
In 2001, Hall founded the Glaucoma Center, P.C., which offers the complete spectrum of medical and surgical glaucoma care. The center is also committed to increasing awareness of glaucoma, a potentially blinding disease that disproportionately affects those of African ancestry. Hall travels to Ghana, in West Africa, annually as a medical missionary glaucoma surgeon. She is committed to decreasing the worldwide barriers to health care.
Hall completed her ophthalmology residency at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Nassau County Medical Center. She then completed her glaucoma fellowship training at the University of Pennsylvania Scheie Eye Institute. Hall is a resident of Bowie.
We Share the Dream Award
Anne Arundel County Chief of Police Timothy J. Altomare is the recipient of the We Share the Dream Award. Altomare is recognized for his extensive military and law enforcement career, in which he has led return to community policing, re-instituting outreach units, youth activity programs, and faith-based partnerships in long underserved communities of color in Anne Arundel County.
The former U.S. Marine Corps veteran served in the Gulf War and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, and numerous other expeditionary awards, as well as a Meritorious Mast for his leadership in combat operations in the Gulf. He was honorably discharged in 1992.
Following his military career, Altomare joined the Annapolis City Police Department. His narcotics and detective work led him through the ranks until his 2014 appointment to the Office of Chief of Police, where he has overseen the origination of the first ever Intra-County Heroin Task Force. Altomare has been decorated three times for risking his life to save another.
Altomare has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in management from the Johns Hopkins University, Police Executive Leadership Program. Altomare is a resident of Millersville.
Courageous Leadership Award
Maryland State Sen. Joan Carter Conway is the recipient of the Courageous Leadership Award. A member of the Senate since 1997, her work has helped citizens receive better mental healthcare and health insurance. Conway has chaired the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee since 2007, and was vice chair from 2003 through 2007.
Conway’s comprehensive work in the Senate includes service on the Maryland Health Subcommittee, Environment Subcommittee, and Education Subcommittee, as well as the Joint Legislative Task Force on Universal Access to Quality and Affordable Health Care and the Joint Committee on Access to Mental Health Services, to name just a few. She is currently a member of the Women Legislators of Maryland, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Women Legislators of the Maryland General Assembly, Inc., and the NAACP.
Conway’s service does not stop with her work in the Senate. Before her political career, she worked with the Model Cities Program, the Urban Services Agency, Helping Unite Baltimore (HUB) #13, and the Department of Housing and Community Development in Baltimore City. Conway also served as the Program Director for Stability, Uniqueness, Renewal, and Elevation (SURE), under the Jentry McDonald Corporation from 1994 to 1995. She is the owner of CIG Professional Tax Services, Inc.
Conway has a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Baltimore. She is a member of Israel Baptist Church. Conway is married to Vernon “Tim” Conway, has one son, Marvin, and five grandchildren.
Alan Hilliard Legum Civil Rights Award
Honorable Annapolis Alderman Kenneth A. Kirby is a recipient of the Alan Hilliard Legum Civil Rights Award. Troubled by area housing, crime, and equal economic opportunities, Kirby co-founded the Concerned Black Males of Annapolis, worked in public housing recreation programs, and served as a Youth Ambassador at Annapolis High School. His award acknowledges his community involvement to the Anne Arundel public school system, and his efforts as chair of Annapolis’ Housing and Human Welfare, Housing, and Community Development Committees.
Kirby remains a strong supporter of community involvement in Anne Arundel public schools. On Saturdays, he volunteers at the Hillsmere Library, where he mentors 15 youth alongside other role-model men. He is a member of the Caucus of African American Leaders and coaches the Key School Girls Varsity Basketball Team.
Kirby has three children, Kenny Jr., Kahla and Kennita, and resides in Annapolis.
Drum Major Award
Terry Patton is a recipient of the Drum Major Award. She is the principal of Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore, which serves a minority neighborhood, and has worked as an educator her entire life, also serving as elementary teacher, teaching consulting, education teacher, administrative assistant, and assistant principal. Patton understands the importance of education culture as it relates to reducing chronic absenteeism, as well as how to build relationships among the families and the school community. Through her work at Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School, she helps scholars and families understand the importance of consistent daily attendance.
Patton has a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, and a Master of Science in administration and supervision from Morgan State University. She was recognized as a 2016 Arts Leadership Awards recipient hosted by Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance and was featured on HBO’s Vice News on November 3, 2016.
Patton lives in Hanover.
Drum Major Award
Midshipman First Class Megan Rosenberger is a recipient of the Drum Major Award. A student at the United States Naval Academy, Rosenberger has been involved in numerous Midshipman Action Group outreach projects, including Harvest for the Hungry, for Annapolis and surrounding communities during her four years at the Academy. As a result of her volunteer efforts, Rosenberger will serve as the 2017 Midshipman Action Group Chief of Staff. She is also involved in environmental issues, and was even awarded the President’s Environmental Youth Award from President Barack Obama.
As a member of the Harvest for the Hungry team, Rosenberger has served as project manager for two of the last four years, where she oversees collection efforts. In the last four years, the Academy has collected more than 250,000 pounds of food. This past fall, Rosenberger and her team collected more than 80,000 pounds of food for the Anne Arundel County Food Bank. This represented an all-time high in a single year for the food bank, collecting more than any other institution in the Maryland program. Rosenberger is leading a call to action to help stop hunger, and she is committed to bringing this important issue to the forefront throughout the Naval Academy student body and community.
Rosenberger also has a passion for the environment. After a devastating rainfall flooded her Pennsylvania hometown, she began to work with worldwide organizations to educate her community about the positive impact rain barrels can have on pollution and flood reduction. In 2012, Rosenberger was awarded the President’s Environmental Youth Award from President Obama for developing hydroelectric rain barrels for water crisis relief efforts around the world. Rosenberger and her team have worked with more than 2,000 students in 75 classrooms in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Wicomico, and Charles Counties, installing more than 350 recycled rain barrels.
Rosenberger is majoring in political science international relations. She lives in Annapolis.
Drum Major Award
Alicia A. Smoot is a recipient of the Drum Major Award. She is recognized for her youth mentorship activities in Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City. Smoot has spent much of her time mentoring and advocating for Anne Arundel children. Currently, she is the lead mentor for the Michael Jones Mentoring Group, Inc., in Baltimore City, where she mentors pre-teens, parents, and guardians in communication and character building. Smoot joined the Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Baltimore City in 2009. There, she is one of five peer coordinators that advocates for foster youth, assuring the children’s needs are met and that they are reunited with their families. Smoot also mentors youth in Anne Arundel County through a driving program, helping them get to and from school. Previously, she worked with pre-teens through the Anne Arundel Adopt-A-School.
Smoot became a member of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee, Inc., in 2015, volunteering with the Fannie Lou Hamer Awards. She has been a member of the Community Baptist Church of Patapsco Park for more than 30 years, where she sings in the choir and teaches Vacation Bible School.
Smoot is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Smoot, the mother of Darrius I, the grandmother of Darrius II, and has two sisters, Andrea, and Alison.
Dream Keeper’s Award
Annapolis Police Department Sergeant James C. Spearman, Jr., is the recipient of the Dream Keeper’s Award. His 31-year law enforcement career has led Spearman up the chain of command in the Annapolis Police Department, from cadet to Sergeant. He has taken leadership positions helping underserved youth in Annapolis. Spearman has been recognized by Maryland Governors Parris Glendening and Robert Erlich for his work in crime control and prevention.
Spearman graduated from the first Neighborhood Leadership Academy class and the Flagship Class of Leadership Anne Arundel. He currently serves on the Resident Opportunities and Self-Sufficiency Grant Committee in Eastport, the Caucus of African American Leaders, and Brandon’s Coalition for Success—a group aimed at enriching the lives of young teenage boys.
Each year, Spearman supports the William Reese Memorial Thanksgiving Dinner, started by William Reese in the 1990s. The dinner ensures families and senior citizens in the Eastport area receive a holiday meal.
Spearman credits his Christian faith for his many successes, and serves as a trustee and treasurer for Victory Christian Fellowship Church. He resides in Annapolis.
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 and human rights has helped keep Dr. King’s legacy alive. The proceeds from this year’s dinner is being used to pay off the debt incurred by building the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial in Annapolis.
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. Most recently, in August 2013, the nation’s first Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial was dedicated on the 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” March on Washington. The $50,000 memorial is located in Annapolis’s Whitmore Park on the corner of Clay and Calvert Streets. The names of over 500 of the 250,000 ordinary citizens who marched in the demonstration and risked the threat of personal harm to underline support for the civil rights leaders who spoke that day are engraved in the monument. For further information write MLK Jr. Committee, PO Box 371, Annapolis MD 21404, call 443-871-5656, www.mlkcskmd.org , or Facebook sites, www.facebook.com/FootSoldiersMemorial or www.facebook.com/mlkmd