They came for what was billed as an elegant evening at the Wakefield Valley Golf Club. They wore tuxedos and floor-length sparkling dresses, ate baked Cornish game hens and danced to a jazz band.
They hugged one another and talked like family -- using familiar nicknames and repeating jokes from long ago when they attended the Robert Moton School in Westminster, the last all-black school in Carroll County.
The last all-black class graduated in 1965 from Robert Moton, now a county elementary school.
On Friday night, 185 former students, their families and eight of ,, their teachers gathered to thank one another for the work they've done during the past 20 years to raise money for scholarships for black county students.
As of last spring, The Former Students of Robert Moton School Inc. had given $34,100 in scholarships to 62 graduating high school seniors.
Friday night's event was not a fund-raiser, just a celebration.
Charlotte Theresa Franklin of Baltimore, class of 1947, credited her classmate, Edith Dixon Davenport, with pushing schoolmates to keep in touch after the school's last all-black class graduated.
Mrs. Davenport, a school social worker in New York City whose two sisters and three brothers also attended the dinner, complimented the group, but wasn't about to let them rest on their laurels.
"You've kept the Moton spirit and memories alive and continued the bond of love and support. You must never, never lose those bonds," said Mrs. Davenport, whose brother, Richard N. Dixon, is a Democratic state legislator from Carroll.
She then issued a list of "challenges." She urged group members to compile a Robert Moton yearbook -- something students never got when they graduated.
She suggested researching Carroll's black history and starting newsletters to keep the community informed about events.
Group members should start countywide youth ball leagues, organize black family reunions and volunteer in hospitals, libraries, schools and nursing homes, she said.
"I want you to continue to give and live for yourselves and your children for the best possible life," Mrs. Davenport said.
Few alumni from former all-black schools in the United States are organized and raise money for scholarships, she said.
Students throughout Carroll attended the Robert Moton School.
"It was just a close-knit high school, a tremendous friendship circle. They have had great staying power," she said.
Mr. Dixon, a Westminster resident who has been president of the alumni group for all of its 20 years, announced Friday that each scholarship will increase from $700 to $1,000 next year.
The group will award four or five scholarships next spring, he said.
"We think it's important we know and recognize our history," Mr. Dixon said. "It's important for us to recognize our young black people."
The group's annual fund-raiser will be April 16 at Frock's Sunnybrook Farm in Westminster.
The former Moton students also sponsor an annual Martin Luther King Day breakfast.