Each February, Larry White helps young people transform themselves into Rosa Parks, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders to share stories of African-American history with others in Anne Arundel County.
These days, White is busy planning his third annual Black History Month program, which he hopes will attract 200 people eager to learn not only about the past, but about how black leaders influence current events.
"We don't just put on a show. We dig down so people can make a difference," said White, a Glen Burnie resident who holds two jobs in addition to his volunteer work.
White will be honored this month with a Dream Keeper's Award at the county's annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner. He's among 10 people who are being honored for their work in areas ranging from working to improve housing affordability to advocating for civil rights on Capitol Hill.
White, who also works in information technology for the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, said his Black History Month program is close to his heart. This year's program will not only include students portraying civil rights leaders, but will also feature speakers and workshops on financial literacy and healthy living. It will be held Feb. 15 at St. Mark United Methodist Church in Hanover.
"I focus on what people in the past have done, but also how those civil rights leaders got us to the present," White said.
White said he was surprised to learn he would be honored at the annual King dinner. He owns a business that offers event planning and car service, and was working with dinner organizers on transportation for the keynote speaker when he learned he was among the honorees.
"It kind of took me back," White said. "I was really humbled by it."
The other Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner honorees include: Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who will receive the Morris H. Blum Humanitarian Award; Julie C. Snyder of the Community Action Agency, who will get the We Share the Dream Award; Kathy Koch of Arundel Community Development Services, the Peacemaker Award; Gerald Stansbury of the NAACP, Courageous Leadership Award; the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, the YWCA Coretta Scott King Award; and Marc L. Apter, Sylvia Rogers Greene of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Oscar Barton Jr. of the Naval Academy and Antonio Downing of the NAACP, each of whom will receive a Drum Major Award.
The dinner will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 17 at La Fontaine Bleue, 7514 Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie.
Keynote speaker at the dinner will be Shirley Sherrod, who in 2010 was ousted from her job as a U.S. Department of Agriculture official after a blogger posted an edited video in which she appeared to make racist remarks against whites. Though she was later exonerated and offered a new job with USDA after the full video circulated, Sherrod now works for a nonprofit in Georgia. She will sign copies of her book about her experience, "The Courage to Hope."
The dinner is one of four major events planned in Anne Arundel this month to honor King's legacy. The others are a seminar and "Lift Every Voice" concert at St. John's College on Jan. 11 and 12; a "Day On, Not a Day Off" community service event at Church on the Rock in Millersville on Jan. 20; and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast at Anne Arundel Community College on Jan. 20.
The breakfast's theme will be the role of women in the civil rights movement and will feature a keynote address from U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards.
Honorees at the breakfast include: Reynaldo A. Evangelista, a former police officer who teaches at AACC, who will receive the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Zeitgeist Award from the college's Black Student Union; County Councilman Jamie Benoit, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award from the Anne Arundel Coalition of Tenants; Lisa Vernon of the Anne Arundel County Literacy Council, the Dr. Martin Luther King Award from the Annapolis Human Relations Commission; Dr. Melvin D. Howard, the Dallas G. Pace Sr. Humanitarian Award from the Anne Arundel County Human Relations Commission; the Rev. John D. Watts of Kingdom Life Church in Brooklyn Park, the Leon H. White Clergy Memorial Award from the United Christian Clergy Alliance; and Rosalind Hill-Kane, state social worker, the George H. Phelps Jr. Distinguished Citizen Award from the NAACP.
If you go
'Lift Every Voice' concert and seminars
What: Seminar to discuss the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1957 speech, "A Realistic Look at the Question of Progress in the Area of Race Relations" and a concert and reception.
When: Seminar is 10 a.m. Jan. 11; concert is 4 p.m. Jan. 12.
Where: Seminar at Mellon Hall at St. John's College in Annapolis; concert is at the college's Francis Scott Key Auditorium.
Tickets: Both the seminar and concert are free; however, registration is required for the seminar at sjca.edu/events/AN/mlk/main.shtml
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner
What: Dinner and awards.
When: 6 p.m. Jan. 17.
Where: La Fontaine Bleue, 7514 Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie.
Tickets: $60, or $100 to include a VIP reception at 5 p.m. Tickets available at mlkmd.org.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast
What: Breakfast and awards.
When: 7:30 a.m. Jan. 20.
Where: Jenkins Gymnasium at Anne Arundel Community College, 101 College Parkway in Arnold.
Tickets: $35 or $350 for a table of 10. Checks can be sent to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Committee, care of Erica Matthews, P.O. Box 1951, Annapolis 21404.
A Day On, Not a Day Off
What: Community service day including designing Valentines for troops overseas, workshops on conflict resolution, food drive and other programs.
When: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 20.
Where: Church on the Rock, 649 Old Mill Road in Millersville.
Information: Call 410-897-9207 or go to VolunteerAnneArundel.org.