Waldorf, MD - North Point High School in Waldorf was the focal point for the 20th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast held by the Charles County Chapter of the NAACP Monday, Jan. 19.
Master of Ceremonies Hammad S. Matin opened the event by noting how far Charles County has come in recent years, lauding the election of the county’s first black sheriff, Troy Berry, Charles County State’s Attorney Tony Covington, assistant state’s attorney Brandon Northington, District Court Judge Kenneth Talley and Circuit Court Judge James H. West and Del. C.T. Wilson—all African-Americans, Matin said.
“We are all free, but I ask you, what are you doing with that freedom?” M. Janice Wilson, president of the Charles County branch of the NAACP asked. “Are we keeping up on the things that matter?
“When I say we are free, yes we are,” she added. “We are free to attend public hearings and let our voices be heard. We are free to ask questions of our public officials and expect answers.
“There is much to be done,” Wilson said. “We need everyone engaged in the work in Charles County. Don’t take your freedom for granted.”
Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer said he has walked the march from Selma in recreations of the historic March 14, 1965 event.
“I have walked 11 out of 13 times,” Hoyer said. “We have taken the pilgrimage. The first time Dr. King walked across that bridge, by the time that walk concluded, he was tired and sore, but the 8,000 who marched made it impossible for the nation to ignore.”
Guest speaker Gerald G. Stansbury, president of the Maryland Conference of the NAACP, said he often gets asked if the NAACP is still relevant because of Civil Rights legislation and the number of elected officials who are African-American.
“We have a long way to go to achieve equality,” Stansbury said. “The condition of black people makes the NAACP relevant. For many African-Americans, the American Dream remains just that—a dream.”
Stansbury argued the lingering high drop-out rates of African-American students, higher unemployment rates—almost double that of whites—and a bevy of social and economic issues make the organization more relevant than ever.
“These problems can only be solved if we work together,” he stressed. “Teamwork makes the dream work.
“Children are being born today in a world of despair,” Stansbury said. “Growing up in a society filled with anger, hatred and fear, the appalling silence of the good people. We have been laying down on the job. I’m asking you to rise up,” he said.
“You alone can make a difference,” he stated. “Change can come one person at a time.”
The event was highlighted by The Southern Maryland Harmonizers’ exceptional music. Food was prepared by the culinary staff at North Point High School and the North Point JROTC assisted at the event, organized by Robin Walthour.
In a true show of embracing community, the invocation and benediction was offered by Pastor Jose Rojo Medina of the Hughesville Baptist Church.