Anne Arundel County residents who attended the Million Man March last month are taking their first steps to uphold the pledges they made on The Mall in Washington.
The marchers have scheduled a summit at Mount Moriah A.M.E. Church in Annapolis from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow to discuss ways to help rebuild the black community. It is the first event sponsored by the Anne Arundel County African American Unity Coalition, a group of about 20 black churches, businesses and civic groups formed after the march.
"If the Million Man March represented anything, it was a spirit of unity and brotherhood," said Lewis Bracy, a spokesman for the organization. "Those of us who attended took a pledge to come back to our community and empower it."
At least 200 people from the county gathered Oct. 16 on The Mall to pledge self-improvement and to give up drugs and violence. They joined hundreds of thousands of black men from around the country who came together for a day of atonement led by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
The Annapolis meeting is among at least a half-dozen activities in Maryland. In Baltimore, marchers hold meetings every Tuesday at United Baptist Missionary Convention at Madison Avenue and Preston Street to talk about how to encourage blacks to adopt children, counsel prisoners, register to vote and join community and civil rights organizations.
The Annapolis conference will focus on education, religion, politics and business and is free and open to everyone, $l regardless of race or gender, Mr. Bracy said.
Speakers will include Carol S. Parham, county superintendent of schools; the Rev. Leroy Bowman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Annapolis; Sam Gilmer, an Annapolis alderman; and James "Buster" Marshall, chairman of the board of Quiet Waters Farms and Florist Inc. in Annapolis.
Mr. Marshall said he made political contributions but never became involved in the community. The Million Man March, which he attended with his 21-year-old son, Dean, changed all that, he said.
"I was inspired by the Million Man March," he said. "I cried twice. If every black person -- both economically and socially -- reinvested some time into the community, the conditions would be a whole lot better."
Mr. Marshall plans to talk about creating jobs and strengthening black-owned businesses.
In a county that is 12 percent black, there are no black-owned banks, hotels or major restaurants. In Annapolis, whose population is one-third black, there are no black-owned businesses in the historic district, according to government figures.
"I'm not blaming the white people," Mr. Marshall said. "It's time for us to stop crying and start doing things for ourselves."
Annapolis Alderman Carl O. Snowden said he hopes the conference will help the Af- rican-American community set a political vision and get more blacks elected to public office.
"There's a dearth of elected officials," he said. "What the forum wants to do is develop an agenda for the 21st century and address these disparities in politics."