Jones is an honoree at King dinner

Humanitarian award to be given to councilman for pioneering role for blacks

January 03, 2007|By SUSAN GVOZDAS | SUSAN GVOZDAS,Special to The Sun

An Anne Arundel County councilman will receive one of the local black community's top awards next week, capping a tumultuous two months in his personal life.

At the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner, Daryl Jones will receive the 2007 Morris H. Blum Humanitarian Award, which honors pioneers who have helped open doors to the black community.

In November, the Glen Burnie Democrat became the first black male to win a council seat, a victory that came shortly after his mother died. A little over two weeks later, his business, Dotson's Live, was destroyed in a fire. The 80-year-old club was one of the oldest black nightclubs in the area, a haven for blacks to socialize during segregation.

"My faith goes unshaken," he said. "My faith plays a large role in my being able to pick up and carry on."

Jones, who has not decided whether to rebuild his club, said he is humbled to receive the Blum award, established in 1989 to honor the late founder of WANN-AM radio in Annapolis. Blum, who was Jewish, was considered a pioneer in efforts to hire black personalities and staff before the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act. Blum's family gives it to someone who is a pioneer in human rights efforts in Maryland.

He is one of 10 people to be honored at the dinner, which was started in 1989 to honor the legacy of King and those who keep his vision of racial equality alive through social activism. It usually attracts more than 1,000 people, said Carl O. Snowden, chairman of the annual dinner. U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen will be the keynote speaker.

Snowden noted that Jones was one of more than a dozen people who personally guaranteed a loan to build the first The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Maryland at Anne Arundel Community College. The memorial was dedicated on Aug. 27. Jones, an attorney, also created a luncheon to honor the first black county councilwoman, the late Sara Carter.

Snowden said the 2007 recipients represent a cross-section of the community.

The Dream Keepers Award goes to Walter Lomax, who spent 39 years in prison for a murder and robbery that he says he did not commit. He was freed after a judge reopened his case and sentenced him to time served. The chairman of the awards committee presents the award to an individual who made a commitment to civil liberties and human rights.

Last January, when Lomax was incarcerated, he and other inmates and prison officials honored Snowden, among others, with an award named for The Rev. Martin L. King Jr. for his work in social justice issues.

"I'm blown away. Less than a month ago, I was in prison and not knowing whether my freedom would be afforded to me or not. Now I have my freedom and I'm receiving an award such as this, I'm humbled by it, I really am."

Lomax credited King's teachings with his own lack of resentment toward his plight.

"I'd like to think that's it's a natural part of self-growth, but studying King naturally played a part in my attitude and approach to freedom."

Carroll P. Hicks Jr., of Severna Park, who helped raise money for the King memorial as a member of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, will receive a Drum Major Award. He has served on the King Awards Committee for two years and contributed to the King memorial. He previously worked with Blacks in Government, a national organization of African-American federal government employees. After retiring from the federal government, he started his own construction company, Cannon-Hicks.

Annapolis police Detective Shelley C. White Jr. and his wife, Navy Cmdr. Delores Duncan-White, helped form a traveling basketball team about three years ago. The team for children ages 12 to 14 emphasizes grades before play, White said. Players must bring their report cards to practice to remain eligible.

White said he wanted to give children in housing projects something constructive to do, and he and his wife make sure team members go out to restaurants, movies, church and other events when they play on the road.

Sun reporter Nia-Malika Henderson contributed to this article.

The awards dinner will begin at 6 p.m. Jan. 12 at La Fontaine Bleu at 7514 Ritchie Highway, Glen Burnie. Tickets are $50 per person or $500 for a table of 10 and may be purchased in advance by calling 410-760-4115.

honorees

The following people will be honored at 2007 The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. awards ceremony on Jan. 12:

County Councilman Daryl Jones -- the Morris H. Blum Humanitarian Award

Walter Lomax -- the Dream Keepers Award

The Rev. Dr. Frederic Muir -- the Peace Maker Award

Dr. Larry A. Mercer and Alan J. Hyatt -- the We Share the Dream Award

Patricia Hebron Handy, Carroll P. Hicks Jr., and Annapolis police Detective Shelley C. White Jr. and his wife, Naval Academy Cmdr. Delores Duncan-White -- the Drum Major Award.

Del. Peter A. Hammen -- the Maryland Citizen's Health Initiative Courageous Leadership Award.

Connie Liu -- the Honorable Arthur Dorman Scholarship Award.

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