Carl Snowden: Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award honorees and his dream by voting


On Jan. 11, the 36th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner will be held. It is the largest celebration in Anne Arundel County of King’s birthday . It is sponsored by the nonprofit Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee Inc.

The event, which begins at 6 p.m., will be held at the Live! Casino at Arundel Mills in Hanover.

Proceeds from past events have been used to build the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial located on the campus of Anne Arundel Community College.

Also, the first Coretta Scott King Memorial Garden was built in Edgewater, followed by the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial located across from the Arundel Center.

A contribution was given to Anne Arundel County government, which led to a county building being named in honor of the late Councilwoman Sarah E. Carter.

Carter was the first and only African American woman elected to the Anne Arundel County Council. She was followed by former Councilman Daryl Jones, who was succeded by Councilman Pete Smith.

The aforementioned gala takes place in partnership with St. John’s College, The Key School, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, NAACP and the Caucus of African American Leaders. It attracts patrons from around the state.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Congressman Jonathan Jackson, son of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson.

Elected officials invited to attend include Gov. Wes Moore, U.S. Sen Chris Van Hollen Jr., retiring Rep. John Sarbanes, Rep. David Trone, Comptroller Brooke Lierman, County Executive Steuart Pittman, Mayor Gavin Buckley, Councilwoman Lisa Rodvien, Sheriff Everett Sesker, Register of Wills Erica Griswold, Delegate Shaneka Henson, Judge Vickie Gipson and Judge Ginina Jackson-Stevenson,  among others.

This event will take place during the kickoff of the 2024 election cycle. Candidates running for the Board of Education and Congress will be on the ballot. This will be the most consequential election in our lifetime.

This year’s election is a referendum on the direction the nation will take. The choices could not be clearer. In a way, it is also a referendum on King’s dream. Will we vote to make America better or bitter?

Will Americans vote to unite the nation or to divide it? Voters will make these and other important decisions.

As King has opined, in a democracy the greatest march that you can participate in is the march to the ballot box.

This year’s honorees include Moore, Annapolis Recreation and Parks Director Roslyn Johnson, Board of Education member Dana Schallheim, Dee Goodwyn, Joseph Butler, Jared S. Littmann, Thornell Jones, Harris Family Foundation, The Ralph Bunche Community Center, Midshipman First Class Max Josef Bueno, Rev, Marguerite Morris, Dr. Cederic Harris, Dr. April Copes, Antonio Downing and Midshipman First Class Kaylah Gillums.

Please note that this list includes recipients at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast as well as the dinner honorees.

King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is iconic. When Jackson, King’s godson, addresses the audience, he will remind us of what his father, Jesse Jackson, said: “Keep Hope Alive.”

I would simply add to that to keep our democracy intact, honor the dream and vote!

Carl Snowden is convener of the Caucus of African American Leaders. Contact him at

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