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Annual MLK Breakfast Honors Community Leaders

Dec. 20, 2013

Six local residents and civic leaders who best emulate the spirit of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will receive awards Jan. 20 at the 33rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast at Anne Arundel Community College.


Tickets are still available to this year’s event that focuses on “The Role of Women in the Civil Rights Movement,” and features Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards, D-4th, as the keynote speaker. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast served at 8 a.m. in the David S. Jenkins Gymnasium on the AACC Arnold campus, 101 College Parkway. 

This year’s award recipients are:
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Zeitgeist Award, from the AACC Black Student Union, is presented to an individual at the college or in the community who has helped the institution in achieving its equal opportunity and affirmative action goals. This year’s recipient, Commander Reynaldo A. Evangelista, is an associate professor in AACC’s Homeland Security and Criminal Justice department, teaching mainly in the college’s Police Academy program. As a former member of the Baltimore Police Department, he received a bronze star for apprehending a suspect during a robbery, a life-saving medal for helping a victim after a car accident and many letters of commendation for outstanding policing skills. He instills those values into his students who perform regular community outreach. He has a master’s degree in organizational management from University of Phoenix and is a candidate for the Doctor of Education in Community College Leadership at Morgan State University. 

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award from the Anne Arundel Coalition of Tenants Inc. recognizes county residents who keep the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alive through words, deeds and actions. This year, the award goes to County Councilman G. James “Jamie” Benoit Jr., chief executive officer of FedData, who has worked on the council to foster government transparency, equality in education, accountability in the police department and opportunities in fair housing for the county’s working-class residents. He has received many awards including the Larry Wing Award for Outstanding Service to Veterans and the Justice Lewis Powell Award for Excellence in Appellate Advocacy. He has bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, received a law degree cum laude from the University of Baltimore School of Law  where he was an editor of the Law Review and an LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award, presented by the City of Annapolis Human Relations Commission, honors a person who exemplifies humanitarianism and who goes beyond the norm to establish and maintain equality and fair treatment of all human beings. The recipient is Lisa Vernon, director of the Anne Arundel County Literacy Council since July 2012 and was the organization’s first tutor coordinator. She has given more than 4,000 hours as a volunteer to the AACLC since joining in September 2011 and under her leadership, the AACLC was awarded the 2012 and 2013 Top-Rated Great Nonprofit Award, achieved the GuideStar Seal of Transparency, was awarded the Abilities Network Community and Employment Program Partners Award, and was nominated for the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award.
Dallas G. Pace Sr. Humanitarian Award, from the Anne Arundel County Human Relations Commission, recognizes an individual who significantly enhanced the realization of positive human relations for county citizens and demonstrates caring for others through individual initiative. The award recipient is Dr. Melvin D. Howard, D.V.M., a veterinarian who works with Animal Control’s Rabies Clinic and who has served on various commissions, including the county’s Animal Control Commission and Commission for Women, as well as various boards for veterinary medicine. He was the first African American president of the Maryland State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. Dr. Howard earned a bachelor’s degree from Morgan State College and a second bachelor’s degree and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

The Leon H. White Clergy Memorial Award, given by the United Christian Clergy Alliance of Anne Arundel County, honors an individual who has dedicated his or her life to making the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a reality by fighting for human rights in America. This year’s recipient is John D. Watts, founder, visionary and senior pastor of Kingdom Life Church in Brooklyn Park, which lists its mission as, “Committed to changing lives through the word of God.” His ministry offers free essential services to the community and has worked with teens and young adults in various mentoring programs. He has a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies from Beulah Heights Bible College in Atlanta and is working on a master’s degree in divinity and pastoral care and counseling.

The George H. Phelps Jr. Distinguished Citizen Award was established by the Anne Arundel County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and recognizes an individual or organization for outstanding achievement and contribution to county residents, with emphasis on commitment in the field of human rights, justice and equality for all people. The award winner is Rosalind Hill-Kane, a licensed social worker with the Department of Human Resources who has worked with Consolidated Family Services, the Treatment Foster Care Program and Emergency Services to Adults and Families. Active in social and civic organizations, she has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a Master’s of Social Work from Howard University and is pursuing her doctorate in public health.

Participants are asked to donate a nonperishable food item as part of a food drive sponsored by breakfast co-sponsors, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, for neighbors in need.

Please reserve tickets or RSVP by Jan. 10, 2014. Tickets cost $35 each or $350 for a table for 10. Make checks payable to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Committee and mail to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Committee, c/o Erica Matthews, P.O. Box 1951, Annapolis, Md. 21404. Breakfast proceeds support scholarships and help maintain Maryland’s only memorial to Dr. King, which is located on AACC’s Arnold campus.

For tickets or information, contact Eugene Peterson at 301-538-0887 or Erica Matthews at 443-761-9734.