The 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Program will be held Friday, Jan. 13, at 6 p.m. at the La Fontaine Bleue in Glen Burnie, Md. U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the January 6 Committee, will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony. This inspiring evening is the largest celebration of Dr. King’s birthday in Anne Arundel County. Among the 13 honorees acknowledged at the event are Bay Community Health, recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, which has served underrepresented citizens in rural south Anne Arundel County for 45 years, and Joshua Hatch, recipient of the Alan Hillard Legum Civil Rights Award, who helps local “returning” citizens reestablish life outside prison in the county., Tickets are $100 per person and are available for purchase at https://mlkjrmd.org/. For more information, contact Arlene Jackson at 301-538-6353.
Congressman Thompson has represented Mississippi’s second congressional district since 1993. In addition to serving on the January 6 Committee, he also serves as Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security. Before his political career commenced, Thompson worked to register Black voters and met civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. “I’m from a part of the country where people justify the actions of slavery, the Ku Klux Klan, and lynching,” said Thompson. “I’m reminded of that dark history as I hear voices…try and justify the actions of the insurrectionists on Jan. 6, 2021….We still, in my humble opinion, are still the greatest country in the world. We just had a hiccup on Jan. 6. And we have to fix it.”
The award-winning playwright, actress, and singer Mzuri Moyo Aimbaye returns to the MLK Jr. Committee stage to perform “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” the rousing opening to her one-woman show, “The Fannie Lou Hamer Story.” As Hamer, she speaks to issues such as voting rights for fair representation.
Other winners of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. awards include Jacqueline Allsup, winner of the Drum Major Award; Dr. Linda Boyd, winner of the Drum Major Award; Mayor Gavin Buckley, winner of the Morris H. Blum Humanitarian Award; Alderman DaJuan Gay, winner of the We Share the Dream Award; Nancy Gist, winner of the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Award; Midshipman First Class Kelly Eleanor Hughes, winner of the Drum Major Award; Olivia McMillan, winner of the Drum Major Award; Vincent Moulden, winner of the Dream Keeper’s Award; John “Bumper” Moyer, winner of the Peacemaker Award; Congressman Jamie Raskin, winner of the Courageous Leadership Award; and Commander Josh Veney, winner of the Drum Major Award.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Program in Anne Arundel County was founded in 1988 by Alderman Carl Snowden. Designed to pay homage to the memory of Dr. King, the program honors those whose deeds, words, and actions have helped keep Dr. King’s legacy alive. The program is a reflection of the best Anne Arundel County has to offer.
Coretta Scott King Award
Bay Community Health (BCH), located in Shady Side and West River, Md., is the Coretta Scott King Award recipient. BCH is a Federally Qualified Health Center and non-profit in rural Anne Arundel County. For more than four decades, BCH has provided primary care, behavioral health, outreach, enrollment, and enabled services to the community, regardless of financial, cultural, or social circumstances. Their core value is “No neighbor shall go without needed healthcare.” BCH operates two health centers serving more than 5,000 patients annually, and they have been recognized by the Bureau of Primary Healthcare as a quality leader on clinical issues such as preventative screenings and diabetes. Their dedicated staff assists the community and patients in applying for insurance coverage, provide a sliding fee discount program, and assist with other state/local assistance programs to help address barriers to services. BCH members are Ryan Beyer, chief information officer; Dr. Xin Paul Chen, chief medical officer; Juanita Tryon, chief executive officer; Anthony Hall, chief behavioral health officer; Bret Minarik, chief financial officer; and Lillet Williams, chief operating officer.
Drum Major Award
Jacqueline Allsup, of Glen Burnie, is the recipient of the Drum Major Award. Allsup is an educator, nurse, and community leader. She is a retired professor from Anne Arundel Community College and a retired nurse of 30 years. Allsup served three terms as the Anne Arundel County Branch of the NAACP president and was recently elected president for 2021-2023. Under her leadership, the local NAACP received the 2022 National Thalheimer Award for programs and the 2023 award for publications. Allsup is a community advocate for health care, education, and public safety, and she has worked to increase voter participation in the minority community. Among many other organizations and committees, she is the financial secretary for the Anne Arundel Chapter of the Continental Societies and a member of the Anne Arundel County Coalition of 100 Black Women and the Anne Arundel County HIV/Aids Commission. Allsup is the recipient of the Bowie State University Pathfinders Award and the Bowie Department of Nursing’s Women of Color and Trailblazer awards.
Drum Major Award
Dr. Linda Hicks Boyd, of Annapolis is the recipient of the Drum Major Award. Boyd is a higher education supervisor for the Center of Teaching and Learning at Bowie State University. Her lifelong background in education is extensive: in addition to serving as a classroom teacher and, eventually, principal, she was the regional director for Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the director of schools under the Maryland Department of Education’s Reconstitution Program. Boyd is a member of the Annapolis Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Annapolis Chapter of Links, the MLK Committee, and sits on the Board of Trustees for Chase Lloyd House. Boyd has served as an adjunct professor at Notre Dame College, Goucher College, and served as supervisor of administrative interns at McDaniel College.
Morris H. Blum Humanitarian Award
Mayor Gavin Buckley, of Annapolis is the recipient of the Morris H. Blum Humanitarian Award. Born in South Africa and raised in Australia, Buckley made Annapolis his home in 1992. His entrepreneurial vision drove the transformation of West Street as he built community and business partnerships and initiated local festivals and events. Buckley was elected mayor of Annapolis in 2017 and re-elected in 2021. He is the only mayor to win re-election with a majority in 75 years. Buckley’s proudest accomplishment is the preservation of Elktonia and Carr’s Beaches. Black residents historically owned these beaches during the Jim Crow era of segregation. Carr’s Beach was a hub for Black musicians throughout the 1950s and 1960s, where some of the greatest musical artists of the 20th Century performed. In August 2022, the City of Annapolis purchased these beaches to create a heritage park that will preserve this historic site’s cultural and environmental legacy for all.
We Share the Dream Award
Alderman DaJuan Gay, of Annapolis, is the We Share the Dream Award recipient. Gay has a history of serving his community as a youth and young adult through school and local volunteerism. While enrolled at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Gay became involved in state and local politics. He interned for four sessions in the Maryland General Assembly, worked on campaigns, and served as the Anne Arundel County Chapter President of the NAACP Youth and College Division. In 2019, Gay and campaign volunteers coordinated a successful write-in effort to win the vacant City Council seat. Gay won and became the second write-in candidate to win a city election. At 22, he was also the youngest councilman ever elected in the city.
Wiley H. Bates Legacy Award
Nancy Gist, of Queenstown is the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Award recipient. Gist served as an educator in Anne Arundel County for decades: After graduating as valedictorian for the Wiley H. Bates High School class of 1952—the only high school Blacks could attend in Anne Arundel County during segregation—she returned as a teacher. Gist also was an English and reading resource teacher in the county public schools. During her years in education, she was the only Black high school English department chairperson in Anne Arundel County. Gist also served in several education administration roles: she was the administrator at Southern Senior High School, assistant principal at Meade Senior High School, and assistant principal at Annapolis Senior High School. Her community involvement is also extensive: Gist was secretary of the Anne Arundel NAACP, vice president of the Anne Arundel County Ethics Committee, and the first Black president of the Board of Education in Anne Arundel County.
Alan Hillard Legum Civil Rights Award
Joshua Hatch, of Annapolis is the Alan Hillard Legum Civil Rights Award recipient. Since his 2019 release from prison, Hatch has turned his experience into an opportunity to give back to his community and help formerly incarcerated individuals, who he calls “returning” citizens, reconnect with their community. Hatch is the Executive Director of the Turnaround Tuesday Movement, the platform through which he prepares, trains, and connects returning, unemployed, or underemployed people. He is also the founder of Freedom Fighters, the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee for the Caucus of African American Leaders, and a Commissioner for the Annapolis City Human Relations Commission. Hatch advocates for those directly impacted by the criminal justice system. Over the last two years, he has worked with criminal justice practitioners across the state to clarify the barriers of returning citizens and offer solutions to help these people succeed.
Drum Major Award
Midshipman First Class Kelly Eleanor Hughes, of Yarmouth, Maine, is the recipient of the Drum Major Award. Hughes, a chemistry major at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), is a dedicated volunteer in the Annapolis community. As a member of the Midshipman Action Group (MAG), Hughes served as a company representative for the Harvest for the Hungry drive, adding 2,000 pounds of food to the brigade’s total. She has also served in MAG’s Mids for Kids and Seapearch, helping to teach elementary and middle school students about the STEM fields. Through this STEM program, Hughes participated in BioTech Day, where she used her chemistry background to assist local high school students with completing lab experiments. Hughes serves as the vice president of the Medicine Club, where she led a bone marrow drive at USNA. This event was a small-scale joint Navy Medicine Club, MAG, and Korean American Club initiative to engage midshipmen volunteers in the Salute to Life registry as potential donors. Under Hughes’ leadership, a life-saving match was found for a child in need of a bone marrow donation. Her efforts directly led to adding more than 600 participants to the bone marrow registry.
Drum Major Award
Olivia McMillan, of Aberdeen, is the recipient of the Drum Major Award. A member since 2014, McMillan is currently the First Vice President of Programs for the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Anne Arundel County Chapter (NCBW-AACO), where she oversees its health, education, economic empowerment, and public policy initiatives. As part of NCBW-AACO, McMillan helped members execute their programs and requirements and helped orchestrate the chapter’s annual SHERO awards program. McMillan also supports her community through her collaborative efforts with the Small Business Administration and Economic Development Center: She has organized entrepreneurship workshops, financial literacy workshops, estate and retirement planning webinars, and participated in community events, such as backpack, toy, and voter registration drives.
Dream Keeper’s Award
Vincent Moulden, of Annapolis is the Dream Keeper’s Award recipient. A lifelong resident of Anne Arundel County, Moulden spent most of his professional career working for an association management company in Eastport, leading its digital communications and marketing initiatives. In 2020, he served as the Annapolis and South County Community Engagement Officer in the Anne Arundel County Executive’s Office. He connected residents to resources, educated the community about county services, and assisted constituents in navigating various county departments. A year later, he was promoted to assistant director of Community Engagement and Constituent Services. He planned collaborative events with community organizations, such as the Black History Month ‘Few of the Many’ Awards and the Women’s History Month Michelle Obama Awards. Moulden’s community work doesn’t stop there: He volunteers with TCP Charity and Charting Careers, serves as a mentor for county youth, and serves on the Board of the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel.
John “Bumper” Moyer, of Eastport, is the recipient of the Peacemaker Award. Moyer is a fourth-generation Eastport resident who has made it a personal mission to beautify the community with hands-on environmental projects throughout the year and for which he has taken no compensation and for which he has not sought recognition. His activities have won support and praise from people across the political spectrum. Moyer’s gardening has enhanced the quality of life for those in the community. He has brought in families with small children in the mornings and young men playing basketball in the afternoons to help him garden during every season of the year. Moyer also serves as the facilities supervisor at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center, where he has been recognized for “running a tight ship.” He is the owner of Twilight Zone Comics.
Courageous Leadership Award
Congressman Jamie Raskin, of Takoma Park is the recipient of the Courageous Leadership Award. Raskin is the U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. He served as the Lead House Manager in the second Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, which ended with a 57-43 vote to convict the president for inciting a violent insurrection against the government to overthrow the 2020 presidential election. He serves on the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. Raskin is serving his third term on the House Judiciary, Oversight, and Administration Committees and is serving his second term on the Rules Committee. Before Congress, Raskin was a three-term State Senator in Maryland and a professor of constitutional law for more than 25 years at American University Washington College of Law. He has authored several books, including The Washington Post, Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court versus the American People, and The New York Times number #1 best-seller Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth and the Trials of American Democracy.
Drum Major Award
Commander Josh Veney, a native of Odenton, is the recipient of the Drum Major Award. Veney graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2004 and is currently the Commanding Officer of the USS LOUISIANA, a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine homeported in Bangor, Washington. During the last 22 years, he has worked alongside talented members of organizations and naval commands. Veney has been a member of inclusive teams throughout his naval service and has mentored and trained Navy sailors from diverse backgrounds while developing future Navy and community leaders. During his time as an Eagle Scout at Arundel High School, Veney led a group of volunteers in the remodeling and landscaping of the Odenton train station, providing a scenic area for decades to come.
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 women of different racial backgrounds who have contributed to the community, state, and nation. The second event is the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Program, held in January, which honors local citizens whose civil and human rights leadership has helped keep Dr. King’s legacy alive.
Proceed from the 2023 banquet will help fund future memorials honoring those who fought for the civil rights movement. The MLK Jr. Committee has successfully placed four 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. In 2013, the nation’s first Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial was dedicated to 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 more than 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. The Guardians of the First Amendment Memorial was dedicated in 2021. It is in Annapolis and honors five journalists killed in 2018. The memorial was initiated by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, honoring the freedoms established by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. For more information, write to MLK Jr. Committee, PO Box 371, Annapolis, MD 21404; call 443-871-5656; or visit www.MLKJrMD.org.