“Each time someone speaks up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, s/he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Ms. Bonnie J. Berger
Ms. Bonnie J. Berger has courageously and consistently spoken for the rights and dignity of all of the citizens of Montgomery County. In her public life, her political work and her vocation, she never fails to raise her voice in the face of bigotry, intolerance and apathy. Ms. Berger is a skilled human relations professional, an effective community organizer, an unwavering political activist, a compassionate counselor, a gifted teacher, and a spirited advocate. In 1995, The Passages Conference honored Bonnie for “almost single-handedly improving the political climate for lesbians and gay men in the greater Washington area.” Through her strong, yet gentle guidance she has indeed dramatically raised awareness of human rights issues related to sexual orientation. She founded the Gay and Lesbian Consortium (GLIC) and co-chaired Maryland’s Free State Justice Campaign. Through the strength of her convictions and her assertive diplomacy, she persuaded the County Council to remove anti-gay amendments from the County’s civil rights code and to ratify domestic partnership benefits. She has also raised her voice to support recognition of Gay Pride Month; to protect gay and lesbian public school students from bigotry; and to create better public awareness of hate acts against homosexual citizens.
Mr. Norman Christeller*
Mr. Norman Christeller fervently believed that each citizen deserves access to a home; and he raised his voice to act on this conviction professionally and publicly. As an outspoken advocate for open housing, he spearheaded numerous legal actions in an effort to provide all citizens with affordable housing. Mr. Christeller worked professionally as director of the Maryland National Park and Planning Commission and as Planning Board Chairman. He also served with distinction as a County Council member and Council President. Largely due to Norman’s strong leadership, Montgomery County is a trailblazer in opening the real estate market to citizens with low to moderate incomes. He secured federal funding to rebuild Scotland, a low-income, predominantly black, neighborhood in Potomac. He was also key in passing a progressive 1974 law that requires developers to build a reasonable number of residential units in the moderate price range. After his retirement from the Planning Board, Mr. Christeller served as a Commissioner for the Montgomery County Human Relations Commission and as a member of the Democratic Central Committee. Mr. Christeller received numerous accolades from the Federal and County governments, the Montgomery Teacher’s Association, the American Planning Association and civil rights organizations.
Mr. Alan Dean
Mr. Alan Dean has lifted his voice to protect the rights, health and well being of Montgomery County citizens on many fronts through his human relations, law enforcement and public service contributions. From 1969-1971, Mr. Dean served as Executive Director of Anacostia Citizens and Merchants, Inc., a non-profit group organized to revitalize the riot-torn Anacostia-Congress Heights section of Washington, DC. He served with great distinction as Executive Director of the Montgomery County Human Relations Commission from April 1, 1997 – April 16, 1994. He served as Vice President of the National Association of Human Rights Workers; President of the Maryland Association of Human Rights Workers; and co-chair for the Maryland Coalition Opposed to Violence and Extremism. Alan was instrumental in founding the County’s Committee on Hate/Violence. In 1982, the Washington Chapter of the American Jewish Committee presented Alan the “Isaiah Award” for the Pursuit of Justice. He was also a recipient of the Montgomery County Board of Realtors Human Rights Award; the Anti-Defamation League Community Service Award; the American Jewish Congress Community Service Award; and the Associated Catholic Charities “Gaudium et Spec” Award. The United Nations Association honored him with its award for outstanding contribution to the advancement of human rights.
Rev. Lincoln Dring
Rev. Lincoln “Lon” Dring has never failed to raise his voice in opposition to hatred, violence and oppression and in support of love, tolerance and community harmony. He positively touched the lives of virtually every Montgomery County citizen through his far-reaching social justice ministry. After his ordination in 1960, Reverend Dring worked as an intern minister in Jim Thorpe and Leghighton, Pennsylvania and as an assoicate pastor for the Church of the Good Neighbor in East Harlem, New York City. He also served with compassion and devotion as the ecumenical chaplain at Howard University in Washington, DC. For the past 27 years, Lon has served with great distinction and accomplishment as executive director of Community Ministry of Montgomery County. Due to Reverend Dring’s strong leadership and stalwart commitment, the Community Ministry has consistently spoken for the dignity and rights of all citizens and improved the lives of others through outreach programs. Numerous organizations have honored Lon for his dedication to community service, social activism and human rights. The Washington Post selected him as “Washingtonian of the Year.” The Interfaith Conference of Greater Washington presented him with the Anti-Druch Achievement Award. As an especially notable accolade, the County’s Martin Luther King Commemorative Committee bestowed the Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award upon Reverend Dring for “living the dream” and continuing King’s legacy on behalf of the citizens of Montgomery County.
Mr. Roger B. Farquhar
Mr. Roger B. Farquhar raised his voice repeatedly to expose the irrationality and injustice of discrimination at a time when such bigotry was legal and institutionalized. In 1955, when he became editor of the Sentinel, minorities in Montgomery County and throughout the country had virtually no civil rights. By 1973, the year he left the Sentinel to begin his own paper in Massachusetts, Montgomery County had enacted a full set of civil rights laws banning discrimination in public accommodations, housing and employment. During the twelve years of struggle, turbulence and great opposition to civil rights laws, Roger Farquhar published editorials, cartoons, photos and news stories that brought out the best in Montgomery County citizens and revealed the unfairness and absurdity of discrimination and prejudice in all of its forms. Through the power of print media, Mr. Farquhar literally saved the lives of three citizens. In the infamous 1961 Giles Case, the Court wrongly convicted and sentenced three young African American men to death for the alleged rape of a white female teenager. In 1962, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld the convictions and death sentences. Between 1962 – 1967, Mr. Farquhar and the Sentinel waged an editorial crusade demanding retrial. Through investigative reporting, Mr. Farquhar exposed inconsistent and questionable evidence the Court used to obtain the convictions. After dedicated Sentinel coverage of blatantly unlawful and racially-biased maneuvers within the judicial system, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a retrial in 1967. The State’s prosecution dropped the charges and freed the three falsely accused black youths, because its case dissolved under Sentinel scrutiny. In February 2000 the Maryland, Delaware and D.C. Press Association named Roger Farquhar to its Hall of Fame.
Hon. Charles Gilchrist*
Mr. Charles “Charlie” Gilchrist never hesitated to lend his voice on behalf of those with special needs. Through his public service and his deep personal convictions, he spoke up to protect the rights, dignity, health and well-being of disabled and disadvantaged citizens. During his term in the Maryland State Senate, Mr. Gilchrist provided strong leadership to the Governor’s Commission on Residential Needs of the Mentally Retarded and to the Commission on Treatment of Aggressive Offenders. During his tenure as Montgomery County Executive, Charlie particularly focused his energies on providing assistance to citizens with physical or mental obstacles. His momentum sparked several programs and policies to serve underprivileged individuals in our County. Mr. Gilchrist served as co-chair of the Special Committee on the Women’s, Infants and Children (WIC) program. He also contributed his unique combination of compassion and experience to the Commissions on Health Code and Services to the Developmentally Disabled. In 1986, Mr. Gilchrist retired from politics and chose to commit the remainder of his life to the service of others. After studying at the Virginia Theological Seminary, he served as a rector and a priest. He enriched the lives of mentally disabled individuals at St. Luke’s House in Bethesda. As executive director of Cathedral Shelter in Chicago, he fed the hungry, clothed the naked and housed the homeless. Charlie worked to uplift others until the very end at New Song Urban Ministries of Baltimore, which provides health, housing, educational and job services to a low-income community.
Dr. Leonard Kapiloff*
Dr. Leonard Kapiloff was an unswerving and powerful voice in Montgomery County’s human rights movement. He spoke as a dentist, as publisher of the Montgomery County Sentinel, and as a land developer to improve the lives of others, bolster human rights and proclaim social justice in the face of great opposition. From 1946 – 1962, Dr. Kapiloff was one of a small handful of Montgomery County dentists who provided services to African Americans and welfare recipients. In addition, he charged reduced prices or provided free treatment to those unable to afford dental care. Dr. Kapiloff’s selfless compassion is also manifest in his role as a builder. When Dr. Kapiloff purchased the Sentinel in 1962, he “advocated the need for moderately-priced and low-income housing” and published editorials and news stories that urged elected officials to adopt progressive positions in the areas of civil rights, equal opportunity and social justice. He spoke through his paper, even in the midst of threats to cancel advertising. In 1963, he teamed with other area real estate developers to build more than 500 moderately priced homes in Derwood. The Derwood Project sent forth a ripple that galvanized area builders to construct more than 4,000 affordable homes in the last thirty years. The Giles Case is a supreme example of Dr. Kapiloff’s vocal commitment to human rights and social jusitce. Through vigilant investigative reporting and Dr. Kapiloff’s visionary leadership as publisher, the Sentinel exposed inconsistencies and discrepancies that led to the exoneration of the three accused black youths.
Hon. Isiah Leggett
Mr. Isiah Leggett has long spoken for human rights and dignity through his public service, his community work and his vocation. Mr. Leggett, a professor at Howard University Law School, has served on the Montgomery County Council as an at-large member since 1986. He is the first African American elected to the Council. He served as the Council’s Vice President in 1990 and as President in 1990, 1991, 1998 and 1999. Mr. Legget chairs the Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee. In his capacity as an elected official, Mr. Leggett reliably raises his voice to support progressive policies on civil rights and human services. He is also second vice chair for the Maryland Democratic Party. In 1977, the President and Cabinet members selected Mr. Leggett as a White House Fellow for his exemplary civic, professional and educational achievement. He also worked as an administrative aide to Congressman Parren Mitchell of Maryland’s 7th Congressional District and as a Social Security Administration claims examiner & staff attorney for the Department of the Navy. Mr. Leggett’s service to our community is diverse and extensive. In 1981, the County Executive appointed Mr. Leggett to serve on the Human Relations Commission. He served as the Commission’s chair from 1983 – 1986. From 1982 – 1986, he chaired the Employment Discrimination Review Panel. Mr. Leggett is an active member of numerous professional and civic organizations, including the NAACP and the Urban League. He has received countless accolades for his humanitarian concern and distinguished public service.
Rev. Dr. James C. Moone*
Rev. Dr. James “Jim” C. Moone, a multifaceted, multitalented and knowledgeable servant leader, spoke on behalf of the rights and dignity of all persons locally, nationally and internationally. Through his dynamic career as an educator & ordained minister, his personal activism, his scholarship, and his selfless service to others, Dr. Moone has consistently raised his voice to obtain civil rights for all human beings. He did not hesitate to strongly express unpopular, progressive positions about controversial issues. Dr. Moone was not afraid of the darkness at night, but always insisted that “the light would come in the morning.” He additionally advocated basic human rights for all people as he marched on Washington in the Poor People’s Campaign; criticized Metrorail and the City of Rockville for isolating the Lincoln Park neighborhood from public transportation; and worked to expand horizons for underprivileged students in the tri-state area. Dr. Moone also challenged local school boards to provide better educational opportunities to low achieving, at-risk and special education students. Jim, a noted African scholar, traveled throughout Africa to present papers and engage African intellectuals in serious discussions on continental problems. Through his commitment to changing the world, he initiated development projects in several African countries. He also lectured worldwide on cultural diversity and other human relations issues. During his life, Rev. Moone received more than 300 awards, certificates and plaques for his contributions to education, civil rights and human dignity.
Mr. Roscoe Nix
Mr. Roscoe Nix has vocalized his steadfast commitment to justice, equality, peace and civil rights through professional leadership, social activism, public service and an altruistic attitude. Mr. Nix served as an effective Director of the Maryland Human Relations Commission. He also worked as a mediator for the U.S. Community Relations Service in the 1960’s. In this capacity, he negotiated collaborative agreements, tiny ripples that helped form a current of justice and equality for minorities. It seems that Mr. Nix has lived based on a deep conviction that humanity is one. He has acted in accordance with a “golden” ideal that is deeply embedded within every religious creed and provides a foundation for any evolved society: Whatsoever befalls one of us happens to all of us. Mr. Nix realized that we human beings are partners, not competitors. He once said, “Blessings come to people through someone else’s help or through some unknown entity. Because of that, it is our obligation to use whatever it is that one of us has to help those who are less fortunate or who may be afraid to speak for themselves.” Mr. Nix has remained faithful to this statement. He has selflessly acted on behalf of others repeatedly, even in the face great opposition. His noble deeds are numerous. For example, he led a picket of segregated restaurants in Silver Spring in the 1950’s. Mr. Nix is also responsible for transforming the Presbyterian Church’s southern wing into a powerful engine for integration. Mr. Nix has worked extensively for Montgomery County’s branch of the NAACP in the fields of education, housing, and black youth development.
Ms. Silvia Rodriguez
Ms. Silvia Rodriguez lifts her voice to ensure all citizens equal access in employment, public accommodations and housing; to increase minority representation; and to provide educational opportunities. Ms. Rodriguez has been an instrument of change through her professional life, her personal campaigns and her fiery spirit. She always says, “discrimination is alive and well and we must do what we can to eliminate it!” Silvia has truly validated these words through her actions. Silvia chairs the Maryland Commission on Human Relations (MCHR). During her tenure with the Commission, she has spoken continuously to protect the civil and human rights of all Marylanders. Ms. Rodriguez, the broker and owner of Silvia International Realty, has experienced discrimination firsthand; and she is dedicated to eliminating prejudice and remedying the far-reaching effects of discrimination. Silvia initiated the statewide investigation on fair housing by conducting hearings throughout the state. She established the Systemic Investigation Unit and the Community Education Outreach Unit, which implemented new technologies to increase accessibility to the MCHR. Ms. Rodriguez was instrumental in securing stronger Maryland civil rights laws and killing bills that would have weakened civil rights. In 1981, Silvia served on the Montgomery County Human Relations Commission (HRC); and she currently serves on the Fair Housing Interagency Committee. Ms. Rodriguez has lent her voice to the Achievement Initiative for Maryland Minority Students Council (AIMMS) since 1999. In July 1999, the Maryland Association of Equal Opportunity Personnel awarded Silvia for her many contributions within the civil rights arena.
Ms. Ruby Rubens
Ms. Ruby Rubens lends her voice to a myriad of civic and political causes. But she truly "carries the Olympic torch" for housing, education and human rights. Ms. Rubens is a committed advocate for fair, affordable housing; a steadfast champion for high quality education for all citizens; and an avid defender of human rights and equality. She has remained faithful to her conviction that personal political involvement and strong leadership can change the world. From 1990-1994, she served as County Executive Neal Potter's special assistant on education, housing, and minority & multicultural affairs. From 1987 - 1990 and 1994 - 1995, Ruby served with distinction as Fair Housing Manager in the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Development. Ms. Rubens was also a catalyst for change in her work for the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission; the U.S. Civil Service Commission; the Social Security Administration and the New York Department of Social Services. From 1995 until her retirement in 1998, Ruby worked as ombudsman for the Montgomery County Board of Education. Ms. Rubens’ community service contributions are vast. She was a founding member of the Coalition for Equitable Representation in Government (CERG) and has been actively involved in the NAACP as a board member, education chair, housing committee chair, and director of training. Ruby has received dozens of accolades for her dedication to human service, education and human rights. In 1998, NAACP presented her the "Pass the Torch Award." Montgomery County honored her with the first Edith Throckmorton Human Rights Award.
Ms. Eunice K. Shriver
Ms. Eunice Kennedy Shriver lifted her voice to shower millions of mentally retarded children and adults with encouragement, strength, and pride. "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." These are the simple, yet moving words of the Special Olympics oath. After creating a day camp for individuals with mental retardation, Ms. Shriver witnessed that many of the people she served possessed tremendous physical ability and athletic talent. She also perceived that these individuals had a wonderful persevering spirit, a resilient nature and an awesome capacity for endurance. She seized this brilliant opportunity to provide mentally retarded citizens a forum to realize the fullness of their dignity and self-worth as human beings. Ms. Shriver founded the Special Olympics in 1968 when she organized the First International Special Olympics Games at Soldier Field in Chicago. Her ripple of hope has indeed expanded into an unstoppable current. Ms. Shriver launched a movement that has established Special Olympics Chapters in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. Through the work of countless volunteers inspired by Ms. Shriver's vision, about 25,000 US communities have embraced Special Olympics programs. Many public schools have incorporated Special Olympics within their physical education curricula and provide extracurricular and interscholastic sports to elementary and secondary mentally retarded students. The Special Olympics Mega-Cities program coordinates Special Olympics training and competition in schools, community recreation programs, group homes, and institutions in eleven large metropolitan cities.
Ms. Joyce Siegel
Ms. Joyce Siegel has boldly stepped forward to speak for the rights of low and moderate-income citizens. For more than thirty years, Ms. Siegel has fought tirelessly to obtain decent, affordable housing for all people. It all began about thirty years ago when Joyce drove past the Scotland community. She noticed that the houses were in horrible condition and the infrastructure of the community was in disrepair. The deplorable conditions that existed for some in our highly affluent county deeply distressed her. Ms. Siegel inquired about the neighborhood and rallied other community leaders. Her ripple of hope created a current that moved the County to refurbish the area, build a community center and improve the lot of the children. Joyce joined the Housing Opportunity Commission (HOC) as Director of Public Affairs. She devoted many years to procure land and finance low to moderately priced housing construction. She also met with neighborhood groups to gain support for affordable housing and to explain the County's Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MDPU) policies & the concept of "scattered site housing." Ms. Siegel remained focused on her vision in the face of cynicism, insult and opposition. Joyce served the board of Community Ministries for several years and currently serves its council as a housing advisor. Ms. Siegel also chairs the Interfaith Housing Coalition, an organization that purchases transitional housing and counsels underprivileged families.
Ms. Jackie Simon
Ms. Jackie Simon speaks up repeatedly for the disadvantaged and for human & civil rights. Ms. Simon is a realtor by profession who has used her career as a springboard to demand equal access within the real estate market and to educate the citizenry about housing rights and opportunities. She developed and taught continuing education courses for real estate professionals in fair housing; advised and advocated for disabled individuals; and teamed with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to produce two of its fair housing training films. Jackie came forward to assist Montgomery County and the City of Rockville with the relocation of many households at the Blandford Apartments to group homes and Section 8 certificate holder units. She dedicated herself to providing a smooth transition for these displaced families. Jackie has been a community activist for years. She currently serves the Network of Community Resources, Inc.; Housing Charities, Inc.; Maryland Advisory Board to the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington; and the Human Relations Commission. She has previously volunteered for Suburban Maryland Fair Housing; the Commission on Common Ownership Communities; the Montgomery County United Way; the Montgomery County Block Grant Citizens' Advisory Committee; and the Maryland Housing Policy Commission. The Maryland Association of Realtors honored Ms. Simon with its first "Equal Opportunity in Housing" award.
In 1965, Ms. Carolyn Snowden began speaking overtly on behalf of Montgomery County’s low-income citizens. When the Montgomery County Council passed Resolution 5-2212 to create the Montgomery County Community Action Agency in response to the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, Ms. Snowden stepped forward to commit her lifetime to the Agency and the Maryland Association of Community Action Agencies. She made it her mission to ensure representation for low-income citizens. Over the next 29 years, Ms. Snowden spent countless hours serving on committees and testifying before the School Board, the County Council, and the Maryland Legislators. She raised her voice time after time to proclaim that all people deserve proper education, transportation, nutrition and housing. Additionally, Carolyn is a known advocate for mental health services. In 1985, she devoted her time and energies to trumpet a County Council legislative effort that ultimately created the Department of Addiction, Victim and Mental Health Services. Through her visionary leadership and collaboration skills, the Manna Emergency Food initiative was born. In 1992 alone, Manna Emergency Food served 177,082 individuals by distributing 9,151 emergency food boxes. Carolyn currently represents the Office of the County Executive as vice-chair of the Montgomery County Community Action Board, which she has served for years. Ms. Snowden is a recipient of the Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award; and she is an inductee in the Maryland Association of Community Action Agencies Hall of Fame.
Ms. Edith Throckmorton*
Ms. Edith Throckmorton was a model educator and a committed activist who often raised her voice in the face of bigotry and institutionalized discrimination. In 1932, she began her career in education as a principal in the Cambridge, Maryland public school system. In 1937, she joined Montgomery County Public Schools where she served as principal to segregated Montgomery County elementary schools for 22 years. After the Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court Decision of 1954, desegregation in Montgomery County resulted in the systematic downgrading of black teachers and principals as they were transferred to formerly all-white schools. When the Board of Education desegregated Longview Elementary, the system offered Ms. Throckmorton a position as assistant principal under a less qualified white colleague. Ms. Throckmorton refused to remain quiet in the midst of this blatantly unjust scheme. She confronted the injustice by resigning and forfeiting her retirement. Upon her resignation, Ms. Throckmorton assumed an active role in the NAACP where she served as chapter President from 1962 – 1977. In this capacity, she worked effectively with elected officials, organizations, churches and citizens to garner support for civil rights. She was key in ratifying the 1967 Montgomery County Fair Housing law; in securing an ordinance prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations; in obtaining low to moderate-income housing for County residents; and in demanding a strong, influential Human Relations Commission. Both the County government and the Board of Education have memorialized Ms. Throckmorton for her exceptional service to the citizens of Montgomery County.
Ms. Judith Vaughan-Prather
Ms. Judith Vaughan-Prather is an outspoken activist for women’s rights and equality who has served as the Executive Director for the Montgomery County Commission for Women since 1980. Through Ms. Prather’s strong leadership and stalwart commitment, the Commission has accomplished major women’s initiatives for the past 21 years. In 1981, Ms. Prather led a Sexual Harassment Project that essentially produced the County’s first official sexual harassment policy. From 1982 - 1989, the Commission sponsored Montgomery County’s Pay Equity Initiative. Implemented in January 1989, the PEI provides salary increases for occupations filled predominantly by women and minorities to reduce the pay gap. From 1992 – 1994, the Commission’s Gender Equity in the Schools program initiated a public hearing on educational equity and the creation of an MCPS task force on athletic gender equity. This initiative altered MCPS policies to provide equal time to sports teams for girls and developed an all-encompassing MCPS policy for sexual harassment. The Women of Limited English Proficiency Project accomplished several objectives between 1994 – 1996, including translating the Commission’s publications; creating a County task force to address the needs of bilingual residents; establishing translation services; and diversifying the workforce. In 1998, the Commission launched two new initiatives to empower female employees. The Girls and Technology Initiative addressed the gap between men and women in information technology career preparation; and the Work and Women Initiative produced an Employer’s Tool Kit web site to assist businesses in designing woman-friendly workplaces.
Mr. William Gregory Wims
Mr. William Gregory “Greg” Wims has lifted his voice to improve lives and promote human rights with a great abundance of energy, enthusiasm, compassion and skill. While Mr. Wims contributions to human relations in Montgomery County are both vast and diverse, he is particularly known as a great champion for our youngest and oldest citizens. As the former President of the State of Maryland Youth Commission, Greg lobbied State and local elected officials to improve young lives. In his current role as President of the Victims Rights Foundation, he leads fundraising activities to assist children who are victims of violent crimes. Mr. Wims has also spoken for young victims by organizing press conferences and raising public consciousness. For the past three years, Greg has also served as President of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, Montgomery County Region. In this capacity, he has raised more than $200,000 to enhance the quality of life for at risk children. Mr. Wims also serves the board of the Children Charities Foundation where he has raised more than 2 million dollars to improve the lives of threatened youth. As Commissioner with the County’s Commission on Aging, Mr. Wims volunteered many hours advocating for the elderly. In this role and as a Human Relations Commissioner, he established policies, lobbied and testified before State and local officials to secure programs for senior citizens. As President of the NAACP, Mr. Wims organized the federal employment task force and acted as official spokesperson at press conferences. He also spearheaded a massive voter registration drive. Greg’s list of recent activist endeavors, volunteer service and organizational accolades is enormous. Leadership Montgomery recognized his as Outstanding Leader of the Year. Governor Schaeffer and Congresswoman Connie Morella have both presented him with awards for his extraordinary spirit of volunteerism.
Ms. Gladys Young
Ms. Gladys P. Young, affectionately known as the “Harriet Tubman of Montgomery County”, has vocally campaigned for equal rights in housing, education, political action, and law enforcement. She has frequently cast her advocacy as a friend of the powerless. Ms. Young demanded real integration. She forced elected officials and public servants to focus on seemingly invisible segregated segments of Montgomery County through “stark, primitive surrender to her public witness.” Ms. Young is an honest, persuasive motivator and negotiator. Through her skilled leadership, she has secured home ownership, tenant rentals and lease agreements for people of color. She has organized voter registration drives and trained voting registrars by the hundreds. She was among the earliest champions of accountability in employment after integration. Ms. Young stepped forward to monitor recruiting statistics and complaint processes within the Board of Education and the Police Department. Gladys has served the NAACP for decades in various leadership roles. Because of her effectiveness and her compassion, individuals have constantly called on Ms. Young for assistance with personal, family and community problems. Ms. Young never hesitates to move mountains and cut through the bureaucratic red tape. She was one of the founding members of the Coalition for Equitable Representation in Government (CERG) where she has promoted minority involvement in politics. In the realm of politics, Ms. Young “set a standard for integrity above position, salary, campaigns or appointments.” And she has tested the integrity of our leaders repeatedly through her genuine, unadulterated public testimony.
Cpl. Carlo Antagnozzi
Ms. Shelley Kramm
“The credit belongs to the (man) who is actually in the arena … who strives valiantly, who knows the great enthusiams, the great devotions, and spends (herself) in worthy causes. Who, at best, knows the triumph of high achievement and who, at worst, if he fails, fails while daring greatly so that (her) place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Honorable Sammie Abbott*
Throughout decades of public service, Sammie Abbott worked tirelessly to win, preserve and protect human rights. He occupied a dominant role in Montgomery County’s social services sphere for more than 50 years. He served as a union organizer and as mayor of Takoma Park. He suffered blacklisting during the McCarthy era of the late 1940’s and early 1950's; but he always held tightly to his personal credo: “All men are created equal”. Mr. Abbott consciously and consistently embraced diversity; and he demonstrated & promoted abundant tolerance. But he refused to tolerate intolerance. His deep and abiding commitment to human rights trickled as a recurring theme through every facet of his life. In all things, he sought to empower the powerless and dismantle the walls of prejudice that blocked opportunity. Because of Mr. Abbott’s all-encompassing dedication to the advancement of human rights for all citizens, we proudly induct him as a member of the MCOHR Human Rights Hall of Fame.
Ms. Frances L. Abrams
Frances Abrams has shouted down many walls that once separated Montgomery County’s women from equal opportunity and power. She was instrumental in founding the Montgomery County Commission for Women, which promotes equal opportunities for County women by: Identifying inequities in laws & policies; recommending solutions; and removing barriers between women and equality through information, referral and counseling services. In 1971, she provided stalwart leadership to an Ad Hoc Committee that studied the status of women; and she painstakingly drafted the legislation that established the Commission in 1972. Ms. Abrams deliberately chose each word in her powerful resolution to ensure continuing Commission influence for years to come. Her precise and brave words have justified the Commission’s work, protected the Commission against anti-feminist attacks and served as a model for the creation of women’s commissions throughout the United States.
Reverend Thomas Baltimore, Sr.
Through his words and deeds, Thomas Baltimore has vigorously insisted that churches are charged with bringing down walls that divide human beings from basic human rights, dignity, educational opportunities and each other. In 1979, he established The People’s Community Baptist Church in Silver Spring. This “entrepreneurial church” is a model large, diverse church that uses its power “to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, console the sick, uplift the downtrodden, empower the powerless, and find the lost”. Rev. Baltimore created a “Saturday Church” school designed to close the educational gap and digital divide between African-American and Caucasian students. He established a “Family Life and Social Action” partnership with social services agencies to distribute food, clothes, toys and a myriad of health and educational opportunities to County families. Rev. Baltimore has always proclaimed that “churches must make a difference in the community” and his actions validate his conviction.
Mr. Fernando Bren
Throughout his life and work, Fernando Bren has spoken for the unheard and shone light on the unseen. His contributions to human rights in Montgomery County are vast and diverse. Mr. Bren has predictably stepped forward with his time and effort to provide community service. He has served the Human Relations Commission, the Community Housing Resources Board, Inc. of Montgomery County, and the Fire and Rescue Commission with great distinction. In these and other posts, he has raised his voice, screaming through walls again and again to ensure equal opportunities for affordable, decent housing; to provide basic needs; and to empower people to “be the change they want to see”. Mr. Bren is an effective galvanizer and a progressive organizer. He realized that “pro”- activism is the best antidote for apathy and passivity. Because of his dedication and talents, many are free from walls that once muffled their voices and blocked the sunlight from their faces. Tonight we shine the light on him.
Mr. Ralph Brown
Ralph Brown has deconstructed walls of fear through faithful community service and by creating public awareness. His noteworthy accomplishments include three terms as a Commissioner on the Human Relations Commission. Mr. Brown organized a “Round Table on Integration” that became a powerful catalyst in the removal of one of our most unyielding and most oppressive walls- segregation. He has also served proudly on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Committee. Regardless of the capacity in which he has served, his pattern of initiative is his signature. Mr. Brown has seized raw opportunities for change wherever he has seen them. He does not wait passively for ideal events and circumstances to knock on his door. Mr. Brown has proven how much we can all accomplish with good organization, personal sacrifice and pure willpower. His steadfast commitment to improving the lives of others is reflected in the breadth and depth of his unselfish service and his key historical achievements.
Judge David Cahoon
For nearly 50 years, David Cahoon has figured prominently as a vocal advocate for human rights in Montgomery County. As a legal advisor and a distinguished member of Citizens for Good Government (CGG), Mr. Cahoon was instrumental in demolishing several walls that loomed dark and disgusting amongst us. He piloted historic litigation that effectively abolished a de facto discriminatory policy - a “black code” that denied the right to vote to Rockville City residents not registered in Montgomery County. From 1957 - 1962, Judge Cahoon chiseled away at a seemingly unshakable, yet intolerable, wall of intolerance; and he was key in founding the Human Relations Commission to enforce the County’s law that desegregated places of public accommodation. Judge Cahoon also served for years on the Montgomery County Council. In this capacity, he crafted & enacted the Board of Education Budgets, which aided the County in implementing School desegregation in the midst of a population explosion.
Mr. William Gibbs*
William Gibbs acted courageously and persistently to advance human rights in Montgomery County. As an MCPS schoolteacher, he dismantled walls of fear brick by brick as he gently led the County’s future into a new era of equality. Progressive messages of tolerance, patience, optimism and resolve ran rampant in his classroom. In 1936, Mr. Gibbs boldly and unselfishly surrendered his time, energy and anonymity by accepting the role of litigant in Gibbs v. Broome et al. This court action, filed by Thurgood Marshall and other NAACP attorneys, toppled a major wall by winning equal pay for black teachers. After much legal wrangling and petitioning, the Montgomery County Board of Education settled out of court by establishing “a salary schedule for teachers without regard to race, creed, or color”, effective school year 1938 – 1939. Thus Mr. Gibbs gave himself as the battering ram against an ugly wall of inequality; and he paved the way for a more peaceful & consistent School desegregation process.
Honorable Robert Hill
Robert Hill, a homebuilder by profession, has demolished walls that once separated many from a basic human right – a place to live; and he constructed equal housing opportunities from the fallen bricks. During the 1940’s and 1950’s, when procuring a bank loan was nearly impossible for many people of color in Montgomery County, Mr. Hill built more than 150 homes from the ground up in effort to provide housing for such victims of overt housing discrimination. He also provided equal opportunity home loans at very low interest rates, effectively opening the gates of home ownership to many grateful residents. Mr. Hill additionally loaned his own home to groups who were barred from renting public facilities based on their ethnicity or skin color during the Jim Crow era. His dedication to fundamental human rights and his drive to raze the cruel & harmful wall of housing discrimination fostered hope and possibilities in an era when there was little of either for countless disenfranchised citizens.
Ms. Samira Hussein
Samira Hussein is chipping away at the walls of ignorance and misunderstanding by educating County youth about Arab-Americans & Muslims. Because of her steadfast commitment and her tireless work with Montgomery County Public Schools, she has secured cultural education as a staple within the County’s junior and senior high school curricula. Due to her relentless dedication and her keen negotiation skills, MCPS now requires all of its teachers to complete a 45-hour cultural sensitivity course; and the State of Maryland has revised its testing policies to respect the religious observances of Muslim students. Due to her leadership, April is recognized as Arab-American Heritage Month. Through her words and deeds, she has acted as a prophetess trumpeting the vital role of intercultural awareness. Ms. Hussein is visionary in her realization that truly embracing diversity is crucial to our future peace and prosperity, especially in our County where we are so diverse that no majority “race” exists.
Mr. Leonard Jackson*
Personally and professionally, Leonard Jackson undercut the walls of hostility, prejudice and ignorance while building the bridges of communication, understanding and tolerance. He tunneled through the most abominable walls of fear through progressive policy change, organizational reform within agencies, and tremendous amounts of altruistic perseverance. Mr. Jackson’s dedication to the advancement of human rights in Montgomery County is markedly vast and diverse. His noble legacy of activism included service to the Human Relations Commission, the Montgomery County Landlord-Tenant Commission, the Montgomery County Committee on Community Action, and the Montgomery County Citizens Committee. Through his extraordinary initiative, his insistence on concrete accomplishments, and his drive for real, substantive societal transformation, Mr. Jackson shook those hideous walls at their very foundations, weakening long-standing barriers, and liberating countless Montgomery County residents.
Ms. Shirley Johnson
Shirley Johnson is knocking down the monstrous walls of violence; and she is eliminating the walls that have kept many from obtaining medical care. She has unselfishly dedicated herself to reducing the violence that often permeates our society’s streets, homes, playgrounds, workplaces and media. Her leadership was vital in the establishment of the Voices VS Violence? program. This landmark initiative, instituted by the Montgomery County Mental Health Association, has become a national model to penetrate the walls of violence and medical harm by building coalitions, embracing diversity and engaging in proactive education. Ms. Jackson is also opening the gates to a basic human right by removing obstacles that block far too many from healthcare opportunities. She served on the planning committee that launched Montgomery County’s African-American Health Initiative. For years, she supported Mobile Medical Care, Inc., an organization that provides primary healthcare to the uninsured populace.
Honorable Bertram Keys, Jr.
Bertram Keys forcefully and effectively tilted at the walls of discrimination that barred innumerable Montgomery County residents from equal access to opportunities in employment, housing and places of public accommodation. He worked diligently to replace those divisive walls with a solid infrastructure to address conflicts motivated by prejudice & intolerance and to promote increased understanding and acceptance in a diverse community. As the first full-time Executive Director of the Human Relations Commission from 1967 – 1971, Mr. Keys ignited a fire of justice in the County that shaped HRC into a prominent & successful watchdog of human rights. Through his commitment to equality, he facilitated the creation of just laws and efficient systems of law enforcement. Mr. Keys was a convincing advocate who promoted the passage of the County’s milestone Open Housing Law in 1967. Mr. Keys freed all of us through his zealous desire to burn through those walls of fear with the mighty flames of justice.
Honorable Rose Kramer
Rose Kramer is a trailblazer who boldly and bravely confronted the hard, cold walls of segregation and bigotry without wasting any time. In 1954, when the Supreme Court finally ruled that the “doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place”, she immediately raised her voice to advocate for the swift desegregation of Montgomery County Public Schools amidst threats and harassing midnight phone calls. As a distinguished School Board Member from 1954 – 1960, she played a central role in fully integrating our School System by 1961. In the 1960’s while she served as a County Councilwoman, she proposed and facilitated the passage of the County’s Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Laws. She pushed for an Office of Human Rights to enforce human rights laws and paved the way for the creation of the HRC on January 16, 1962. Through her hallmark compassionate, yet efficient “wall-tilting”, she convinced the Council to provide low cost housing to the elderly by purchasing the Elizabeth House.
Ms. Margaret (Peg) McRory
Peg McRory infiltrated walls that once cut off thousands from affordable housing opportunities. In her astute insight, she knew that fair housing is impossible without an adequate pool of reasonably priced housing opportunities. Ms. McRory was a zealous advocate for the mandatory provision of moderately priced housing. She vigorously lobbied for the passage of the implementing legislation; and in 1973, the County Council passed the Moderately Priced Housing law. She worked with County Councilwoman Elizabeth Scull to monitor the progress, coordinate countywide efforts, and chart the tangible success of the new Law, which evolved into the Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit program. The MPDU program was an innovative national pacesetter as the country’s first mandatory, “inclusionary” zoning law with builder incentives for the provision of affordable housing. Ms. McRory has literally transformed walls of dispossession into solid structures of ownership, refuge, comfort, and protection.
Mr. Hanley Norment*
Through unceasing perseverance, Hanley Norment penetrated enormous walls of inequity in his pursuit of higher academic standards for minority students. Mr. Norment wisely knew that student success and enlightenment increased exponentially when children participate in academic exploration alongside their parents. As President of the Montgomery County NAACP, he launched ACT-SO (Academic, Cultural, Technical, Scientific Olympics), a milestone program that engages eager student participation and parental involvement in academics. ACT-SO “prepares, promotes and recognizes minority youth who exemplify scholastic and cultural excellence” and mobilizes “the adult community for the promotion of classroom excellence”. Mr. Norment provided an avenue for County youth to demonstrate academic excellence to themselves and their community; and he brought down walls of misinformation by proving that minority students are capable of superior academic performance standards.
Mr. K. Patrick Okura
Walls of fear have simply vanished in the myth-dispelling light of Patrick Okura’s sage-like counsel. Mr. Okura’s trademark is his steadfast desire to positively impact the future through his interaction with young people. He cultivates a spirit of service and advocacy among the County’s youth by mentoring; sharing personal experiences; stressing the importance of learning & remembering history; and gently prodding our young people to follow the path of community activism. The depth and breadth of his commitment to human rights is obvious in his tireless service to groups charged with the promulgation of human rights efforts in Montgomery County – Their variety and scope reflect the broad range of his influence. Mr. Okura has selflessly served the HRC, the Public Schools Citizens Advisory Board, the Substance Abuse Advisory Council, the Mental Health Advisory Board, and the Asian-American & Minority Advisory Boards- and we have watched as various walls have fallen around him.
Ms. Florence Orbach
Florence Orbach is a great champion of integration who never failed to charge walls of separation, inequality and oppression until they crumbled beneath her awesome determination, courage and endurance. She convinced many that the longstanding 1896 Supreme Court precedent in Plessy v. Ferguson had erected one of the most vile walls of all; and she vigorously insisted that “Separate but Equal” is not only an oxymoron, but was also a blunt instrument of immense harm for everyone. Ms. Orbach moved, transformed and toppled many walls through her inspiring & distinguished leadership as President of the Montgomery Civic Union Committee, which fostered positive racial & ethnic relations in Montgomery County. Subsequently she blasted through walls of segregation, injustice and disenfranchisement as Housing Chairman of the Montgomery County NAACP. Ms. Orbach’s infectious spirit of righteousness moves us and lifts us as we pierce today’s walls with a more just doctrine of “United and Equal”.
Judge Chung Pak
Through community activism and visionary leadership, Judge Chung Pak has carefully dismantled fearful walls of misunderstanding, prejudice and ignorance; and from the intact bricks, he has painstakingly assembled pristine bridges of hope, communication and reconciliation between diverse groups. Through his leadership as Co-Chair of the Multicultural Community Partnership (MCP), Judge Pak bridged many gaps, corrected vast amounts of misinformation, and healed many hearts. His endeavors generated constructive dialogue between the various communities that comprise Montgomery County. In 1999, The Gazette featured him in “Forty Who Cared” to highlight his ironclad will; to underscore his keen negotiation skills; and to pay tribute to his remarkable knack for transforming conflict into common ground. Judge Pak also knocks down cultural barriers by helping recent immigrants gain access to: Political & economic empowerment; health care; citizenship; and voting privileges.
Ms. Linda Plummer
Linda Plummer has dedicated her life to removing unsightly walls of fear by: Advocating for the interests of people of color; speaking up for low income citizens who are often invisible and voiceless; and ameliorating the harmful effects of discrimination for victims of the abominable walls of racism, bigotry and prejudice. She is serving her fourth term as President of the Montgomery County NAACP. Under her esteemed leadership, the chapter launched the Multicultural Community Partnership (MCP), a bridge-building enterprise that promotes dialogue, understanding, and collaborative efforts among organizations from many cultures. She was key in instituting the Parents’ Council, which operates on the notion that “it takes a village to raise a child”. It provides a forum for citizens to support minority students & parents in their pursuit of the highest quality education possible through encouragement, information sharing, training, positive motivation, critical evaluation and advocacy.
Honorable Elizabeth Scull*
Elizabeth Scull moved the mighty walls of fear on many fronts with renowned precision and grace. She is long celebrated for her exemplary spirit of service: The Scull Public Service Award is presented annually to honor those who demonstrate the servant leadership that she embodied. She served diligently as a Human Relations Commissioner; as an organizer for Emergency Homes; as a coalition-builder in the establishment of a “religious house” to aid the County’s poor; and as an activist who built grassroots support for open housing laws in the late 1960’s. She accepted appointment to the Housing Authority, where she screamed through oppressive walls of dispossession. As a Councilwoman, she sponsored the Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit law, which has provided affordable housing to more than 11,000 County families since 1976. The County’s MPDU Program stands as a national model for “inclusionary” zoning with density bonuses for builders who provide moderately priced housing.
Ms. Sue Shoenberg
Sue Shoenberg pushed away walls of bigotry, hatred and violence to reveal true common ground, expansive bridges of understanding and clear paths of peace & protection that were once obscured by dark shadows. As a Human Relations Commissioner for more than ten years, she freely gave her time, energy and talents to educate the public about many different minority groups; and she trained members of the Network of Neighbors to assist the victims of hate/violence crimes. Ms. Shoenberg convinced several municipalities to adopt our County’s human rights laws- with measurable results in the realm of fair housing enforcement. As a member of the County Executive’s Task Force Against Domestic Violence, she monitors the protective order that provides court-ordered relief to victims of domestic violence; and she lobbies for broader laws to safeguard victims of such abuse. Ms. Shoenberg has truly converted walls of powerlessness & incalculable harm into bulwarks of empowerment, safety and peace of mind.
Mr. Gary Howard Simpson*
Throughout every facet of his life, Gary Simpson abolished walls of injustice through litigation, human rights advocacy, education, and community service. As an attorney, he represented thousands to preserve & protect their civil rights, winning numerous discrimination cases. He received many accolades for his distinguished record in the area of civil rights law: In 1989, Suburban Maryland Fair Housing, Inc. honored him for “legal services rendered beyond the call of duty” in fair housing law. He served as lead attorney in a landmark class action sex discrimination suit; and he negotiated an unprecedented reverse-sex discrimination settlement in 1996. As a professor, he consistently sought to expand the knowledge, scope and impact of civil rights in employment law. He vocally advanced human rights in his official capacities with the American Civil Liberties Union and the County Bar Association. He mediated Circuit Court employment cases and worked to establish Crossways Communities.
Mr. Gustavo Torres
Gustavo Torres is burning through the repressive walls that have blocked many from economic, social and physical wellbeing; and he is erecting ladders against walls that separate immigrants from equal opportunity. As Executive Director for CASA de Maryland, an immigrant assistance organization, Mr. Torres has transformed a fledgling non-profit into the “state’s largest organization serving Latinos”. Mr. Torres is a fiery advocate who has mobilized the Latino community to seek full participation in the larger society. Through what he calls a “labor of love”, he boosts immigrants up the ladders by emphasizing truth & justice over expediency and choosing collaboration over anger. He has blasted through cultural barriers and walls of prejudice through education, housing, employment, legal, health and social services. With passion, vision, remarkable energy, expertise, and political savvy, he founded the Maryland Latino Coalition for Justice, which advances human rights for Latinas, Latinos and other minorities.
Ms. Martha Abolins
…and Dream Singers…
Ms. Mary Y. Betters
Ms. Blanca Kling
Rev. James Macdonell
Ms. Inez Z. McAbee
Ms. Margit Meissner
Mr. Leroy W. Warren, Jr.
Christine “Tina” Clarke
John W. Smith
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Montgomery County Office of Human Rights
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