Awards fete celebrates King's birth

Nearly 1,000 attend dinner in honor of civil rights leader

`There is much to be done'

Owens honored for her support of anti-smoking actions

January 16, 2002|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County leaders and the black community turned out last night to celebrate the birthday of the late civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., at a dinner featuring keynote speaker Naomi Tutu, daughter of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The 14th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner had to be moved from Annapolis to La Fountaine Bleu in Glen Burnie to accommodate the nearly 1,000 who attended, the largest turnout in the event's history, organizers said.

Also scheduled to speak was South African Ambassador to the United States Sheila Violet Makate Sisulu.

Naomi Tutu said before the dinner she wants to issue a challenge to a new generation of leaders who she hopes will take up the legacy of their parents and grandparents to work to create a fair and equal world.

"When Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of the `beloved community,' it wasn't just a vision of the United States, but a global vision that no child should go hungry and that no one should be unable able to walk home for fear of being raped," she said. "There is still much to be done."

In other parts of the Baltimore region yesterday, other events took place to remember the celebrated pacifist.

In Woodlawn, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger attended a breakfast sponsored by the YMCA of Central Maryland and the King's Landing Women's Service Club.

Later, the men attended "Let Freedom Ring," a musical tribute to King held at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The event, which included selections from composer Kirke Mechem's Songs of the Slave, was presented by the Maryland Commission on African-American History and Culture.

Among those recognized with awards at the Anne Arundel County dinner were County Executive Janet S. Owens, Maryland Court of Special Appeals Judge Clayton Greene Jr. and county Habitat for Humanity President John "Rusty" Porter.

Owens, a South County Democrat who is up for re-election this year, was awarded the Maryland Children's Initiative Courageous Leadership Award for her support of anti-smoking initiatives aimed at protecting children from nicotine addiction.

Greene, who was the first black judge on the Anne Arundel Circuit Court, was recently appointed to the state's second-highest court.

Porter, an Annapolis resident, has been president of the nonprofit housing organization for four years, and has helped to rebuild and repair houses in the Clay Street area of Annapolis.

"Had Dr. King lived to see the progress that has been made, I think he would have been pleased," said Carl O. Snowden, special assistant to Owens, and organizer of the annual dinner, which cost $35 a ticket. "I think he would have been proud." King was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.

Besides the dinner, another county event also will celebrate King's Jan. 15 birthday. A breakfast Monday at Anne Arundel Community College is sold out.

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