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6 local women to be honored at Fannie Lou Hamer Awards in October

| September 24, 2019, 01:31 PM

Rams Head

Chosen from across Anne Arundel County, six trailblazing women will be honored during the 101st birthday celebration of the late civil rights heroine, Fannie Lou Hamer. This event marks the 23nd annual Fannie Lou Hamer Awards Reception, held from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Frances Scott Key Auditorium at St. John’s College in Annapolis.  Known for impacting their community — whether through social justice or historical outreach — each woman has made a lasting mark on Anne Arundel County. All of this year’s honorees — Vanessa Bright, Dr. Pamela Brown, Michelle Coates, Rosalind Hill-Cane, Linda Mundy, and Barbara Palmer — join the ranks of more than 100 notable women, including former Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Administrative Law Judge Tracey Warren Parker, and former Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer, who were nominated in years past. In the spirit of Hamer, honoree Dr. Pamela Brown has made community service her career for the past two decades, working primarily with at-risk children and families in the community. Honoree Linda Mundy was instrumental in funding the Annapolis Trust, which provides scholarships and mentoring for low-income students. Barbara Palmer left a major airline to support the nonprofit sector, serving in various capacities and eventually establishing her own non-profit daycare. Other notable invited guests include local and state political leaders Additionally Panayiotis Kanelos, the president of St. Johns College will offer welcoming remarks. . A concluding dinner with wine will be served.The event is sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Anne Arundel County and co-sponsored by St. Johns College. Tickets are $35 in advance at www.mlkjrmd.org and will also be available at the door. For more information, call 301.538.6353 or 410.419.2208 or e-mail [email protected]

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Rams Head

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.

“These women exemplify the leadership Ms. Hamer brought to the Civil Rights movement,” said Carl Snowden, chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee. “Their commitment to the Anne Arundel County community is humbling, and we thank them for their service. We are thrilled to take this evening, on the 101st birthday of Ms. Hamer, to honor and celebrate this champion for economic and social justice, and the women she inspired.”

A committee of community residents choose 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 our cities, to expansive international crises,” said former 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.”

Dr. Pamela Brown, of Annapolis,, has worked for more than 30 years to address inequities across government and educational systems. Among her various positions addressing these issues, Brown served as child welfare director in Florida’s Department of Children and Families and the vice president of Programs for Partners for Children and Families in Altoona, Fla. After relocating to Maryland, Brown became the executive director for Leadership Anne Arundel, and later took on the role as executive director for Anne Arundel County Partnership for Children, Youth, and Families in Annapolis. Her civic duties are extensive and have left a positive mark on the communities in which she’s lived. Among these, Brown is a board member for the Arundel Lodge Children’s Committee, chair of the Anne Arundel County Early Childhood Coalition, and co-chair of the Anne Arundel County Homeless Coalition. Previously, she served as a board member for Seeds for Success, president for Chrysalis House Board of Directors, and board member for  National Alliance on Mental Illness Anne Arundel County. She completed her Ph.D. in educational leadership at Florida Atlantic University.

Linda Mundy, of Annapolis, works to educate others about unconscious bias through reading, group discussions, films, and other activities, including anti-racism facilitated training. She was instrumental in funding the Annapolis Trust, which provides scholarships and mentoring for low-income students. Mundy also supported the Boys and Girls Clubs’ National Native American Initiative in Annapolis. After attending a White Privilege Conference in Philadelphia, Mundy helped initiate a Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) chapter for Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. She also helped launch the Arundel Connected Together (ACT), where she served as the organization’s first treasurer, and continues to serve on the Strategy Team. Through ACT, Mundy supports efforts around gun violence reduction and safety for ACT’s Research Action Team. Mundy also serves on the Becoming Beloved Committee at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis.

After working for a major airline, Barbara Palmer, of Odenton, went to work in the nonprofit sector as director of programs for the Young Women’s Christian Association of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. There, she was instrumental in the expansion of after-school programs in Anne Arundel County. In 2013, Palmer started her own non-profit, “Kingdom Kare Childcare Center,” a fully accredited childcare center. She is a 2019 Indie Author Legacy Award finalist for author of the year for her book, “No Regrets,” and is working on her second book. Palmer is also the CEO of Palm Tree Consulting, where she travels to various organizations, providing workshops on grant writing, business and nonprofit startup, and leadership development. She works extensively in ministry alongside her husband at the Kingdom Celebration Center. Palmer holds a certification in small business management; bachelor’s degrees in bank finance, divinity, and early childhood education; and a master’s in pastoral counseling. She received a Governor’s Citation for her work with youth in the Anne Arundel community and sits on the County Executives advisory board for the Early Childhood Coalition of Anne Arundel County. In 2016, Palmer was awarded the Jennifer Summers Barrett Champion of Young Children Award.

Vanessa Bright, of Odenton, is the founder and president of BeeHavin’ LLC and the founder and executive director of the Maryland Reentry Resource Center. She is an experienced educator with a background in financial services, non-profit, and government industries. For the last four years, Bright has taught a basic financial literacy and entrepreneurship course at a women’s prison. She used this experience to help former inmates begin preparing for reentry into their communities, and ultimately established the Maryland Reentry Resource Center. The Center focuses on improving the quality of life of families and individuals that are a part of the criminal justice system through informal, participatory, educational programs, as well as case management and mentoring. Bright created BeeHavin’ LLC to provide transitional employment for returning citizens.

Michelle Coates, of Annapolis, is the senior vice president and treasury management sales manager at Howard Bank. Coates previously volunteered with the Annapolis non-profit, Seeds for Success, as a mentor for the Eastport Girls Club program, where she mentored girls grades three through eight who live in low-income or public housing communities. Coates has been an active board member of the Anne Arundel County Public Library Foundation for seven years and recently completed an extended tenure as treasurer, helping the team raise more than $1 million. She recently joined the Board of Directors of Maryland Council of Economic Education Association, where she hopes to share her experiences with educators, teachers, and students to better prepare them for the future. In 2013, Coates received the Tribute to Women and Industry Award by the Young Women’s Christian Association of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County for her efforts to promote equal advancement opportunities for women of diverse backgrounds. In 2018, she was named by The Daily Recordas one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women, as well as a Woman in Finance – Path to Excellence.

Rosalind Hill-Kane, of Annapolis, is a licensed social worker and has worked for the Department of Human Services for 27 years, supporting the Consolidated Family Services, the Treatment Foster Care Program, and, most recently, supervises the Emergency Services to Adults and Families and Outreach. Hill-Kane previously worked as a psychotherapist with Baltimore Washington Counseling Center, working with individuals and families in distress. Among other social and civic organizations, she is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Continental Societies Inc., National Association of Social Workers, The Jet Set Social Club Inc., and the NAACP, Anne Arundel County Branch, where she is the Health Chair. Hill-Kane is an active member of Mt. Zion UMC-Magothy, and has been the Health and Welfare Outreach Committee Chair for more than 15 years. Hill-Kane has organized the Annual Ladies Night for Heart Disease Awareness for the past six years and the annual health walk, Keep It Movin’: Fighting Childhood Obesity. Hill-Kane has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a master’s degree in social work from Howard University, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in public health from Walden University.

Fannie Lou Hamer was the youngest of 20 children born to Mississippi sharecropper parents. She was instrumental in organizing MississippiFreedom Summerfor the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and later became the vice-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, attending the 1964 Democratic National Conventionin Atlantic City, N.J., in that capacity.

Hamer’s plainspoken manner and fervent belief in the Biblicalrighteousness of her cause gained her a reputation as an electrifying speaker. She ran for Congressin 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 worked on other projects, including grassroots-level Head Start programs, the Freedom Farm Cooperative in Sunflower County, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign.

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 first is the annual Fannie Lou Hamer Reception in October honoring woman of different racial backgrounds who have made contributions to the community. 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 MLK Jr. Committee is searching for a local nonprofit organization to take over the MLK Awards Dinner in 2021.  More details and a formal RFP can be found at www.mlkjrmd.org.

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 the 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. In 2013, the Committee 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.

Rams Head

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