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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

34th Annual MLK Jr. Awards Program

Friday, Jan. 14, 2022 at 6 p.m.

   Annapolis, — The 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Program will be held Friday, Jan. 14, 2022 at 6 p.m. at the BWI Westin Hotel in Linthicum, Md. This evening is the largest celebration of Dr. King’s birthday in Anne Arundel County. This year’s theme is “Elections Have Consequences: They Either Affirm the Dream or Defer It.” 

   Among the 14 honorees acknowledged at the event are: Antonio Palmer, of Odenton, winner of the Dream Keepers Award and newly elected president of the United Black Clergy of Anne Arundel County, and Alan Hyatt, of Annapolis, winner of the Dream Keepers Award for his philanthropic efforts that made it possible for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee to build the prestigious county memorials. Other notable attendees include Bowie Mayor Tim Adams, Congressman Anthony Brown, City of Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Former Attorney General Doug Gansler, John B. King Jr. running for governor of Maryland, candidate for governor Wes Moore and Anne Arundel County Executive and previous award recipient Steuart Pittman. Adams is planning to run for Maryland Comptroller during the 2022 race, and would become the first African-American Comptroller for the state.          

   Entertainment for the evening will be provided by noted gospel artist Brianna Bowen, a favorite along Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Bowen will sing “Amazing Grace” and other gospel songs associated with the Civil Rights movement. Addressing the audience will be U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck, Annapolis Mayor Buckley, and County Executive Pittman.

   The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Program in Anne Arundel County was founded in 1988 by then 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 on the best that Anne Arundel County has to offer. 

   Tickets for the awards program are $100 per person and available for purchase online at https://mlkjrmd.org/. Priority seating is granted to guests who register early. For more information, contact Arlene Jackson at 301-538-6353.

Judge Claudia Barber

Drum Major Award

Judge Claudia Barber, of Laurel has been a member of the Maryland Bar for more than 33 years and a member of the Washington Bar since 1994. She is best known for her 2016 political journey to become the first African American woman to serve on the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. Earlier, the Anne Arundel County NAACP recognized her efforts with the Presidential Award. She was elected second vice president of the Anne Arundel County NAACP in 2019

Midshipman First Class Jeanneney Marie Currie

Drum Major Award

Midshipman First Class Jeanneney Marie Currie, from the Naval Academy has dedicated her efforts to acts of service. Outside of academics and sports, she is a member of the Midshipman Black Studies Club (MBSC), National Society of Black Engineers, Vietnamese Student Association, Finance and Investment Club, and Midshipmen Caribbean Heritage Club.Within MBSC, Currie serves as the Community Service Officer and Outreach 

Programs Coordinator.  

Lieutenant Ernest J. Halton

Drum Major Award

Lieutenant Ernest J. Halton, from the Naval Academy graduated from the Naval Academy in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Halton serves as the Naval Academy’s Officer Representative for the Midshipman Action Group, the largest all-volunteer community engagement club within the student body of the Naval Academy. He is responsible for more than 1,200 Midshipmen and leads more than 200 projects annually. 

The Honorable Ginina A. Jackson-Stevenson

Drum Major Award

The Honorable Ginina A. Jackson-Stevenson, of Pasadena, became the first African-American female Magistrate on the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County in 2020 and currently serves in the Family Division. Previously, Jackson-Stevenson served as a criminal defense attorney in the Office of the Public Defender. She later launched a solo law practice, which operated for 10 years handling criminal cases, family law matters, personal injury cases, and police misconduct matters. Prior to her appointment to the bench, she co-hosted the Maryland Politics 101 podcast.

Phyllis Currie Spencer

 Drum Major Award

Phyllis Currie Spencer, of Arnold, is the recipient of the Drum Major Award. Through her 40 years with the Alpha Kappa Sorority, Spencer has dedicated her life to helping her community. Through this organization, she has mentored youth, counseled young women, helped revitalize neighborhoods, and tutored students. Spencer served four terms as president of Alpha Kappa as part of the Lambda Phi and Delta Pi Omega chapters. In addition to her charitable sorority work, Spencer has served on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Directors for the past two years.

Alan J. Hyatt

Dream Keepers Award

Alan J. Hyatt, of Annapolis supported the creation of some of Anne Arundel County’s most distinguished memorials, including the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at Anne Arundel Community College, the Coretta Scott King Memorial Garden at the site of the Holy Temple Cathedral Church in Edgewater, the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial across from the Arundel Center, and the Guardians of the First Amendment Memorial in downtown Annapolis. Hyatt is a partner with the Annapolis law firm Hyatt & Weber, P.A

Antonio Palmer

Dream Keepers Award

Antonio Palmer, of Odenton emulates the social justice ministry of Dr. King. He helped organize the United Black Clergy of Anne Arundel County’s 1,000 Men March, the Summer’s Freedom Bus Ride tour of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and quarterly meetings with County Executive Steuart Pittman. Palmer is the senior pastor of Kingdom Celebration Center in Gambrills, Md., and the presiding bishop of Kingdom Alliance of Churches International, where he oversees 59 churches.

Dimitri Sfakiyanudis

Dream Keepers Award

Dimitri Sfakiyanudis, of Annapolis has shown unwavering support to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee for 40 years, including attending annual dinners and supporting the memorials in Anne Arundel County. He also worked with the committee to have the Annapolis Police Department named in honor of Chief Joseph S. Johnson, the department’s first African-American police chief. He is a lifetime member of the Community Action Agency.

Judge Philip T. Caroom

Peacemaker Award

Judge Philip T. Caroom, of Annapolis served as a trial judge in the Maryland Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County from 1998 to 2015, and now works part time as a senior judge. He led efforts to establish Anne Arundel’s juvenile foster care mediation program, its juvenile delinquency community conferencing diversion program, and its discovery management program. Influenced by the civil rights events of 1968, Caroom began a parallel career of volunteerism as a young man, beginning with the Hopkins Tutoring Project in Baltimore.

Chief Edward C. Jackson,

We Share the Dream Award

Chief Edward C. Jackson, of Baltimore began his career as a police officer with the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) in 1983, moving up the ranks to Colonel in 2004. Jackson has also worked as a program director and assistant professor in the Criminal Justice Program at Baltimore City Community College. In 2018, he was rehired by the BPD as Chief of the Office of the Inspector General. In this role, Jackson provided agency-wide oversight of administrative and operational practices for BPD. In 2019, he was appointed  Chief of Police.

Emily Legum

Alan Hilliard Legum Civil Rights Award

Emily Legum, of Annapolis has been an educator for four decades. Moving to Annapolis in 1975, she became the first community liaison teacher serving the County as an intermediary between home and school. In 1976, Legum moved to the Key School, a non-profit founded by St. John’s College professors in the 1950s. While there, she created programs to assist students with academic challenges, including initiating the Language Training program, standardizing the reading and writing program.

Morris H. Blum Humanitarian Award 

Chief Amal Awar, of Hyattsville became the first person of color and woman to hold the position of Chief in the Anne Arundel County Police Department. This award is given to an individual by the family of the late philanthropist Morris H. Blum. Each year, the family selects an individual who has been a pioneer in their profession. The late Mr. Blum was the first businessman in Anne Arundel County to hire an African-American, Charles “Hoppy” Adams Jr., as an on-air radio personality.

Courageous Leadership Award

Senator Melony G. Griffith, of Annapolis, represents District 25 in the Maryland State Senate. She is a former licensed clinical social worker and has spent most of her career working to positively impact public health. In 2020, Griffith become the first African American woman elected as President Pro Tempore for the Maryland Senate. In this role, she serves as the leader of the Senate chamber in the absence of Senate President Bill Ferguson. Griffith also serves as the Chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee’s Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.

Coretta Scott King Award  

The Caucus of African-American Leaders (CAAL) of Anne Arundel County is the recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award. Established in 2011, the Caucus emerged out of a pursuit to inspire and support the community. The purpose of the CAAL is to fight for the human rights of African-Americans and to create a just society. The CAAL believes in the principle that the rights of all marginalized groups must be respected and protected.

   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 Program held in January to honor those local citizens whose leadership in civil and human rights has helped keep Dr. King’s legacy alive. 

   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. In 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 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.

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