Events celebrate the struggle for civil rights On Jan...

LETTERS

January 07, 2001

Events celebrate the struggle for civil rights

On Jan. 13 and Jan. 15, two events - an annual dinner and a breakfast - will celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Held in our county for 13 and 20 years, respectively, these events highlight the progress the nation has made since Dr. King's 1968 assassination.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to have lived while Dr. King walked this earth know America lost a voice that will not soon be replaced.

I have two sons who were born after Dr. King died. They have no concept of what the American apartheid system was like. To them, discussions about segregated hotels and restaurants are unfamiliar ideas.

They have no notion that at one point in American history, African-Americans were actually murdered if they merely attempted to register to vote.

They do not know that the Maryland General Assembly in 1909 disenfranchised African-American citizens in Annapolis and those citizens lost the right to vote.

As a young boy, I remember the gasoline station that existed at the foot of Main Street in Annapolis, which had a sign that read "White ladies" and "Colored women."

These and countless other indignities are examples of why we pause to celebrate the birthday of Dr. King and literally thousands of other unnamed and unsung heroes and heroines. When I hear people ask why there is a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr., I know we still have a long way to go.

At 6 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Annapolis Sheraton Barcelo Hotel. Rep. Elijah Cummings will be the keynote speaker. The theme of the dinner is "What is the state of the dream?"

At that dinner, we will honor Pastor Craig Coates, Reverend Paul A. Murray, Frederick C. Howard, Carole Reynolds, Linda Quille, Elizabeth Pollak, Leonard A. Blackshear and Joel Dan Lehman. Each has promoted racial harmony in our county.

On Jan. 15, Les Brown will be the keynote speaker at Anne Arundel Community College at 8 a.m. At this event, Clemon H. Wesley, Vaughn T. Phillips, Sharon Barlow-Hughley, Edwarda Maria Larkin and the Rev. Leroy Bowman will be honored. They, too, have contributed to our county.

Both of these events are open to the public.

Dr. King's legacy is still being debated 32 years after his death. Was he a naive dreamer or a revolutionary? Was he a prophet or merely an aberration?

The reality is that each of us is a beneficiary of the movement that Dr. King led. Every time we see another racial barrier being dismantled in our society and the world, we see his legacy in action.

As we begin the new millennium, the words of Dr. King are as relevant today as they were in the last century. Dr. King once said, "Our freedom was not won a century ago, it is not won today; but some small part of it is in our hands."

Each generation must honor his legacy by renewing its commitment to racial equality. We celebrate Dr. King's birthday by reminding our nation that his dream is our dream. His struggle is our struggle.

We celebrate because we must. To do less is not only to dishonor the dreamer, but deny history's lessons.

Carl O. Snowden

Annapolis

The writer, special assistant to Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens, is chairman of the Martin Luther King Jr. dinner and breakfast committees.

Research center issues have yet to be addressed

As a citizen of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, I am concerned about the county's apparent lack of control over the David Taylor Research Center redevelopment ("Council likely to OK plan for Navy site," Dec. 20).

Two glaring questions have yet to be adequately answered:

Given its unique and sensitive location, how has the county ensured the development will be carried out as represented?

Instead of attaching strict controls to the deeds to the property, the county appears to be proceeding with naive trust that the developer will not challenge the ambiguity of their language at a later date.

We need only to look at past projects of this and other real estate developers to recognize that a development may change many times prior to its completion.

How will the traffic affect surrounding neighborhoods?

The county and the developer have acknowledged that the existing traffic study is antiquated and a comprehensive new study must be completed. However, it seems that the county is willing to approve the development before the study is completed.

It is important that the revised traffic study be conducted by an independent and objective engineer and that potential residential growth on the Lower Broadneck Peninsula be considered.

Our county has the opportunity to really shine with this redevelopment of 46 acres of precious Chesapeake Bay waterfront.

But if Anne Arundel County wants to share the same business development success as neighboring Fairfax, Loudoun and Montgomery counties, we need to act with the same responsibility and control, to ensure business growth in our county without negative impact on our quality of life.

Obtaining clear, comprehensive answers to the above concerns would be a good first step.

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