Friday, March 15, 2013

African-American Leaders in Maryland Unite to Strengthen their Community

Photo: AMIP News

The Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center

Annapolis, Maryland
March 14, 2013

By Frederick Nnoma-Addison

Only two weeks after the observation and celebration of African-American history month – February – in the United States, approximately 60 African-American leaders in Anne Arundel County, Maryland have held a meeting to review the state of their community and address the challenges facing it. The caucus representing clergy, business, labor, sororities, elected officials, and civil rights groups committed to work together to improve their community in the county. The meeting was appropriately held at the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center and Memorial in Annapolis and was attended by the County’s Police Chief – Larry W. Tolliver and the new Publisher and Editor of the Capital Gazette, Pat Richardson and Steve Gunn respectively. [Photograph above was taken after the meeting and represents only a cross section of meeting attendees]. The leaders first came together in January to support former County Health Officer Dr. Angela Wakweya, who they believe was unfairly removed from her position by the then-County Executive John R. Leopold who is now serving a jail sentence himself for misconduct while in office. Dr. Wakweya who was the first African-American to head the County’s 81 year-old health department is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Uganda in East Africa.

Making the introduction Carl Snowden, Member of the Board of Directors, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee and Host of Upfront & Personal recounted this recent history of unfair treatment of blacks in the community and stressed the need to work together so that such an incident never occurs, “on our watch”.

Almost 50 years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act (1964), the historic March on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and 100 years after the birth of Rosa Parks, also a Civil Rights Activist, African-Americans who represent about 12% of the national and County population still face discrimination and race-related challenges. By convening this meeting and dialoguing with the Capital Gazette and the Police Chief the caucus hopes that this will be a first step in addressing disparities and discrimination in hiring and distribution of resources among other concerns. The caucus is scheduled to dialogue with the new County Chief Executive, Laura Newman, at 5pm on April 10th at the same venue.

Anne Arundel County

Anne Arundel County is named after Anne Arundell (1615-1649), a member of the ancient family of Arundells in Cornwall, England and the wife of Cæcilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore. Its county seat is Annapolis, which is also the capital of the state. In 2010, its population was 537,656, a population increase of just under 10% since 2000. Anne Arundel County forms part of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area.

City of Annapolis

Annapolis is the capital of the state of Maryland in North East United States, and the county seat of Anne Arundel County. Located just 29miles east of Washington, DC, It is a diverse, world-class city open to tourists and business people from around the world. Annapolis is also home of the United States Naval Academy, founded in 1845. Described as America’s Sailing Capital and the gateway to North America’s largest estuary – the Chesapeake Bay – its location makes it a prime destination for water-tourism. The Bay is a source of bountiful seafood and a host of sailing, boating, recreational sports-fishing, and water-sports activities to residents and tourists from around the world. Also described as a “Museum without Walls”, it is a lively, contemporary city where four centuries of architecture embrace 21st-century living. The city has trendy boutiques and specialty shops amidst 18th century brick buildings especially in the Historic Downtown area.

Annapolis is noted for proudly celebrating African & African-American heritage. It is home to important monuments like the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial, the Banneker-Douglas Museum (Maryland’s official repository for African-American heritage), the Thurgood Marshall Memorial, and the Coretta King Memorial Garden located on the campus of Sojourner-Douglas College.

The Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center and Memorial

The Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center and Memorial are part of a $27 million dollar complex called The Wiley H. Bates Heritage Park which opened in a public celebration in September 2006. The Legacy Center is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history of Wiley H. Bates High School (1932 to 1966), formerly the only high school for African Americans in Anne Arundel County. It is a unique cultural arts heritage center displaying historical documents and collections that preserve the African American experience.

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