Six AA County women honored with Fannie Lou Hamer Award
Stacy M. Brown | 9/22/2017, 6 a.m.
Six Anne Arundel County women will be honored for their leadership in civil and human rights during the Fannie Lou Hamer Awards reception scheduled for Sunday, October 1, 2017 at the Frances Scott Key Auditorium at St. John’s College in Annapolis. The 4 p.m. event marks the 100th anniversary of Hamer’s birthday.
Yvette Morrow, Debbie Ritchie, Lisa DeJesus, Sara Elfreth, Yasemine Jamison and MiaLissa Tompkins are set to join the ranks of more than 100 notable women, including former Senator Barbara Mikulski and former Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer in receiving the honor.
“I may not be able to save the world, but if I can make a difference in one person’s life, I have done more than many,” said Morrow, noting that statement represents her grandmother’s motto.
Morrow, who has more than 20 years in the legal field, also counts as a business owner and active participant in many organizations including the Anne Arundel County NAACP.
Like Hamer, Ritchie— a former member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education— views education as the great equalizer. She has served on the Anne Arundel County PTA and the state PTA where she advocated for children and assisted in fundraisers and other activities.
“In my work with other PTA units and during training, I helped people understand how having a diverse PTA and including others would only enhance the PTA and provide a rich environment for all students,” Ritchie said.
DeJesus, a master stylist, owns and operates Salon DeJesus, an Annapolis-based hair salon and barbershop.
Jamison, a Muslim who immigrated to the U.S. as a child, is a member of the Caucus of African-American Leaders, which she joined to stand behind the ACLU in its demand that the county council chair not deny anyone the right to speak at meetings.
Elfreth holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Towson University and a master’s degree from John’s Hopkins University. She served as the Government Affairs Director for the National Aquarium and is a graduate of the inaugural class of Emerge Maryland, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of Democratic women serving in elected office.
Tompkins, a realtor and entrepreneur, works to ensure that families of all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds can build long-lasting ties with their communities, schools and local businesses by helping them find the perfect place to call home.
“For me, being a realtor isn’t work, it’s a chance to help a family make their dreams come true,” Tompkins said.
Known for their positive effect on their community, whether through social justice or historical outreach, each of the women has made a lasting mark on Anne Arundel County, according to organizers.
“On the centennial birth of Fannie Lou Hamer, we pause to honor her memory by honoring women who keep her legacy alive through their words, deeds and actions,” said Carl Snowden, chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, the event’s primary sponsor. “Mrs. Hamer was a feminist and a civil rights heroine. 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 choose six outstanding women each year from a list of nominees who live and, or, work in Anne Arundel County, the only known jurisdiction in Maryland to celebrate Hamer’s memory with awards.
“We are living right now in a world that’s fighting for change on many levels, from social unrest in our cities, to expansive international crises,” Mikulski, a 2009 Hamer honoree, said in a statement. “And, while the news may seem grim, there is inspiration every day around the world as people come together to bring about peaceful change.”
Tickets for the event, where invited guests include Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Holland; and Representative John Sarbanes and Anthony Brown and others, are $35.
For tickets, call 301-538-6353 or 410-419-2208; and for more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.