King holiday commission recognizes teacher, real estate agent, clergy group

January 18, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

A teacher, a real estate agent and a religious group were presented "Living the Dream Awards" last night by the Howard County Martin Luther King Holiday Commission in ceremonies at Centennial High School.

Recipients were given plaques in recognition of "extraordinary service to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and to the citizens of Howard County."

Educator Gloria Faye Washington was cited for having "led the fight for minority academic achievement within Howard County Schools through the Black Student Achievement Program."

"She has a genuine concern and commitment to children of all races and backgrounds," said School Superintendent Michael E. Hickey. Because of her work, "the Black Student Achievement Program is the primary vehicle addressing the needs of African-American students," Mr. Hickey said.

After thanking her parents for being extraordinary role models and commending her husband and children for their generosity, patience and unselfishness, Ms. Washington addressed the crowd of more than 325 people.

"We made many gains over the years, but our work is not finished yet," she said. "We need to move from the dream to action. Let us leave no child behind. Let's get busy."

Real Estate Agent Clarence D. Toomer was given the commission's business award for his "lifelong commitment to the fight against housing discrimination" and for his continuing work to help provide county housing for low- and moderate-income families.

Mr. Toomer is a symbol of how businessmen should fulfill the legacy of Dr. King, said presenter S. Zeke Orlinsky, publisher and part owner of the Patuxent Publishing Co. "One of the things that stands out about Clarence to everyone who knows him is his commitment."

Rabbi Martin Siegel accepted the community service award on behalf of Howard County Clergy for Social Justice -- a group of Jewish, Protestant and Roman Catholic clergy. The group was praised for its "active support of the causes of nonviolence, multiracial cooperation and social justice in the past decade."

Rabbi Siegel said the work of the local clergy group is the same as that given to people like himself when he worked with Dr. King: "Carrying on what was taught us when he changed the country -- working together as people of good will to do what is right."

The rabbi challenged the audience to "do something to carry on in our lives what [Dr. King] lived and died for. Ordinary people, if driven by a higher vision, can make a difference -- can do something extraordinary."

The awards came at the end of an hour and a half program that included a video presentation of one of Dr. King's sermons, music by the 105-member Howard County Children's Choir and a 14-piece orchestra, and a litany memorializing Dr. King written by high school students and recited in different languages. There was also a puppet presentation.

The children's choir received one of the most robust rounds of applause of the night after singing a South African freedom song -- "We are marching in the light of God" -- first in Swahili, then in English.

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