This year during Black History Month, Anne Arundel County’s Few of Many awards event focuses not only on looking back but looking around to Black leaders who are making history now.
County Executive Steuart Pittman said the event is to honor the many who organized and marched for Black Lives Matter over the summer and “the many who marched to the polls in November removing white supremacist sympathizers from the White House.”
“It’s few because we’d be here all night if we recognized the many,” Pittman said.
In all, 28 Anne Arundel County residents received awards named for the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, or for Sojourner Truth, an African American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Where last year Pittman honored residents like Bessie M. Knight, who took a bus from Annapolis in 1963 to see Martin Luther King Jr. give his “I Have A Dream” speech, this year he honored residents like student Board of Education member Drake Smith, who is active now.
He also honored Randy Curtis, a community member who organized the 1,000 Men March in September. The crowd lived up to the event’s name, and droves of people marched through downtown Annapolis calling for an end to police violence and racism.
“We have unity — it may not be uniformity — but it’s unity. We don’t all look the same, we’re not part of the same organizations or have the same backgrounds, but we do have common causes and I wanted to see that in Annapolis, Maryland,” Curtis said. “Everybody was there and that was the goal, it was to get everyone there and say ‘This is what leadership looks like. This is what raising your voice looks like.’”
The awards began at 5 p.m. Tuesday with a link to watch online. This is the third year the county has held the awards.
Curtis is the son of Bishop Antonio Palmer of the Kingdom Celebration Center in Odenton and the vice president of the United Black Clergy. He shared the lessons he has learned from his father, and the concerns and hopes he has for his children.
He said he worries about the stereotypes and discrimination they face in the educational setting and in public interactions with law enforcement.
If, to prevent that, “I have to step up and speak out, I have to speak truth to power, then so be it,” Curtis said. “I’ll do that because I don’t just care about my children, I care about all Black children, specifically in Anne Arundel County.”
Curtis received the Cummings award alongside the following community members:
Judge Sidney Butcher, District Court of Anne Arundel County
Alderman DaJuan Gay, D-Ward 5, Annapolis City Council
Midgett Parker, Annapolis attorney
Brian Sims, physician
Lawrence Harris Jr.
Lewis Bracey, retired police officer
Antonio Downing, Anne Arundel County NAACP
Drake Smith, student member of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education
Pastor John Watts, Kingdom Life Church
The following community members received the Truth award Tuesday night:
Rhonda Dove Caldwell
Lyn Farrow, assistant city manager for Annapolis
Office Jami L. Tiller, Anne Arundel County Police
Del. Shaneka Henson, D-Annapolis, Maryland House of Delegates
Beryle Downs, General Assembly staff
Jacqueline Boone Allsup, president of the Anne Arundel NAACP