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. 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.
A cash bar will be provided during the awards program, and the BWI Westin Hotel is offering discounted overnight stays at $119 per room for program attendees.
Addressing the audience will be U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck, Annapolis Mayor Buckley, and County Executive Pittman. Other winners of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. awards include: Anne Arundel County Police Chief Amal Awad, of Hyattsville, winner of the Morris H. Blum Humanitarian Award; Judge Claudia Barber, of Laurel, winner of the Drum Major Award; Judge Philip T. Caroom, of Annapolis, winner of the Peacemaker Award; Midshipman First Class Jeanneney Marie Currie, from the Naval Academy, winner of the Drum Major Award; Senator Melony G. Griffith, of Prince George’s County, winner of the Courageous Leadership Award; Lieutenant Ernest J. Halton, from the Naval Academy, winner of the Drum Major Award; Baltimore Police Chief Edward C. Jackson, of Baltimore, winner of the We Share the Dream Award; Emily Legum, of Annapolis, winner of the Alan Hilliard Legum Civil Rights Award; Dimitri Sfakiyanudis, of Annapolis, winner of the Dream Keepers Award; Phyllis Currie Spencer, of Arnold, winner of the Drum Major Award; the Honorable Ginina A. Jackson-Stevenson, of Pasadena, winner of the Drum Major Award; and the The Caucus of African-American Leaders (CAAL) of Anne Arundel County, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award.
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.
Morris H. Blum Humanitarian Award
Chief Amal Awad, of Hyattsville, is the recipient of the Morris H. Blum Humanitarian Award. Awad 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. Previous recipients of this award have included President Barack Obama, Governor Parris Glendening, County Executive Steuart Pittman, and Kevin J. Simmons, Office of Emergency Management.
Drum Major Award
Judge Claudia Barber, of Laurel, is the recipient of the Drum Major Award. Barber 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 continued her activism and was ultimately elected second vice president of the Anne Arundel County NAACP in 2019 and first vice president of the Anne Arundel County NAACP in 2020. Barber served as a member of the Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland from 2004-2005, and, in 2001, she became board chairperson of the Elder Theodore L. Barber Scholarship Foundation, named in her father’s honor to award scholarships to at-risk youth. Barber is also admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Federal Claims Courts, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, the District of Columbia and Federal Circuits, and the U.S. District Courts for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Barber received her juris doctorate degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Courageous Leadership Award
Senator Melony G. Griffith, of Annapolis, is the recipient of the Courageous Leadership Award. Griffith 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. In addition to serving as President Pro Tempore, Griffith also serves as the Chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee’s Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. She was first elected to the Maryland Senate in 2018 and has been a member since January 2019. Griffith served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1999 to 2015.
Judge Philip T. Caroom, of Annapolis, is the recipient of the Peacemaker Award. Caroom 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. Later, he became a member of the Annapolis Friends (Quaker) Meeting. Pursuing a Quaker commitment to act on his values led Caroom to volunteer with organizations including Bay Alliance for Safe Energy, Annapolis Friends of the Parks, Annapolis Peace and Justice Center, and the Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform (MAJR). Today, Caroom chairs the board of MAJR, an all-volunteer, nonpartisan group that advocates for improvements to make the state’s criminal laws more racially equitable. Successful MAJR initiatives include Maryland’s milestone “Justice Reinvestment Act,” expanded mental health screening for arrestees, and use of citations instead of arrest. Caroom is the recipient of several awards, including People Against Child Abuse “Outstanding Contribution” award, an Anne Arundel Bar Association Trustee’s Award, and election as president of the local Inn of Court.
Drum Major Award
Midshipman First Class Jeanneney Marie Currie, from the Naval Academy, is the recipient of the Drum Major Award. Currie 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. With the help of the Midshipmen Store Staff and members of MBSC, she packaged and donated more than 500 hygiene and school supply kits for the Anne Arundel Family Support Center. Currie helps plans events for Black History Month, to include poetry slams, history nights, mentoring events, and a banquet. Currie has also been involved with initiatives regarding the Black Women’s Network and the pilot program “Juliet,” which identifies trusted upperclassmen to mentor underclassmen. Currie is also part of the Naval Academy’s community service group, Midshipman Action Group (MAG), the largest all-volunteer community engagement club within the student body of the Naval Academy. Through her involvement in MAG, she has participated in multiple Green Projects, the “Mids for Kids” program, and other outreach initiatives.
Drum Major Award
Lieutenant Ernest J. Halton, from the Naval Academy, is the recipient of the Drum Major Award. Halton graduated from the Naval Academy in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Halton now resides in Annapolis and 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. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Halton supported Midshipmen team efforts to collect 75,000 pounds of food for the Anne Arundel County Food Bank. He also worked with Midshipmen teams to reach out to low-income youth affected by the pandemic and whose education had suffered from inadequate e-learning circumstances. Halton serves as the 11th Company Officer for the Naval Academy, where he also serves as an active campus mentor. Recently, he graduated from a top Leadership Education and Development Program at George Washington University.
Dream Keepers Award
Alan J. Hyatt, of Annapolis, is the recipient of the Dream Keepers Award. Hyatt 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. He is Chairman of Shore Bancshares, Inc. and its subsidiary, Shore United Bank, N.A., and previously served as Chairman and CEO of Severn Bancorp Inc. and Severn Bank. Hyatt received his law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1978. He is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association and the Anne Arundel County Bar Association. Hyatt serves on the Board of Trustees of Luminis Health, the Anne Arundel County Retirement and Pension System, and the Annapolis Community Foundation.
We Share the Dream Award
Chief Edward C. Jackson, of Baltimore, is the recipient of the We Share the Dream Award. Jackson 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. Previously, he served as a member on the Community Oversight Task Force, charged with making recommendations for strengthening police accountability and police-community relations in Baltimore City. Jackson is currently a PhD candidate at Capella University, where he is completing his dissertation.
Alan Hilliard Legum Civil Rights Award
Emily Legum, of Annapolis, is the recipient of the Alan Hilliard Legum Civil Rights Award. She 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, and founding the Learning Department. She also served as Lower School division head for 11 years. Recently, Legum opened an educational consultancy, Legum Learning Strategies, which seeks to serve students in need of additional academic challenges. In addition to her academic service, Legum has worked on presidential, congressional, and mayoral campaigns. Today, she serves on the nonpartisan Steering Committee for Action Annapolis, has helped initiate educational programs on housing issues in Annapolis, and helped provide affordable housing for those working in Annapolis.
Dream Keepers Award
Antonio Palmer, of Odenton, is the recipient of the Dream Keepers Award. Palmer 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. He has more than 26 years of pastoral experience, planting his first church in Annapolis. Palmer is the newly elected president of the United Black Clergy of Anne Arundel County and a member of the Caucus of African-American Leaders and the Anne Arundel County Branch of the NAACP. As an entrepreneur, he and his wife, Barbara Palmer, own Kingdom Publishing LLC and Kingdom Kare Inc. He is also the author of four books. Palmer is the recipient of various awards for serving the community, including three Governor Citations and three County Executive Citations.
Dream Keepers Award
Dimitri Sfakiyanudis, of Annapolis, is the recipient of the Dream Keepers Award. Sfakiyanudis 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. Sfakiyanudis, who was born in Istanbul in 1942, settled in Annapolis in 1970. With a degree in civil engineering, Sfakiyanudis acquired his professional engineers license in Maryland in 1973. That year, he formed Sigma Engineering, and practiced engineering in Maryland for more than 40 years. Previously, he served as a board member at Severn Savings Bank and, later, at the Chesapeake Savings and Loan Bank.
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. She also works with The Collective, a dynamic collaboration of women’s organizations that educate the Annapolis community on topics about the African American community. Additionally, Spencer spent many years volunteering and serving as a committee chairperson during the Kunta Kinte Festival. Finally, her years as an administrator for an assisted living program sparked her desire to work with the Alzheimer’s Association. This work proved to be rewarding and beneficial, as it also helped Spencer in caring for her father during his own Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Drum Major Award
The Honorable Ginina A. Jackson-Stevenson, of Pasadena, is the recipient of the Drum Major Award. In 2020, Jackson-Stevenson became the first African-American female Magistrate on the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, and she 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, interviewing local politicians and discussing local, state, and world political issues. She served on the Character Committee for the State Board of Law Examiners from 2015 to 2020. In 2017, Governor Larry Hogan appointed Jackson-Stevenson to serve on the Anne Arundel County Judicial Nomination Committee to select the pool of candidates for bench appointment. Finally, Jackson-Stevenson served as president of the James C. Cawood Jr. Inn of Court of Anne Arundel County for two terms and as a Board of Director for the Pro Bono Resource Center. She now serves on the Board of Directors for the Anne Arundel County YWCA and as vice-chair for the Anne Arundel County Local Pro Bono Committee. She is an active member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, which mentors girls in Anne Arundel County.
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. To donate to the work of the group or for more information, write to MLK Jr. Committee, PO Box 371, Annapolis MD 21404; call 443-871-5656; or visit www.MLKJr.org.
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