NAACP speaker urges: ‘If you know it’s wrong, say it’s wrong’

Kent County News - - FRONT PAGE - By TR­ISH MCGEE pm­cgee@thekent­coun­

FAIRLEE — Em­pow­ered and in­spired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Drum Ma­jor In­stinct” ser­mon, the Rev. Joan Brooks on Saturday night called for a re­newed bat­tle against in­jus­tices.

“How many of you are will­ing to stand up? If you know it’s wrong, say it’s wrong,” Brooks ad­mon­ished those at­tend­ing the Kent County branch of the NAACP’s an­nual Free­dom Fund Schol­ar­ship Ban­quet.

We all have the drum ma­jor in­stinct — the de­sire to be first, the de­sire to be im­por­tant, the de­sire to lead the pa­rade. Brooks said that de­sire should be har­nessed for good, “to use that in­stinct to lift everyone around you.”

In a fiery speech, she en­cour­aged mem­bers of the au­di­ence to be a drum ma­jor for peace, a drum ma­jor for jus­tice and a drum ma­jor for right­eous­ness.

It has been nearly 50 years since King de­liv­ered his “Drum Ma­jor In­stinct” ser­mon from the pul­pit of Ebenezer Bap­tist Church in At­lanta, where he en­cour­aged the con­gre­ga­tion to seek great­ness through ser­vice and love.

King was as­sas­si­nated April 4 1968, two months to the day af­ter his “Drum Ma­jor In­stinct” ser­mon.

In the half-cen­tury that has fol­lowed, King’s dream of equal­ity for all has not been fully achieved, said Brooks, who is pas­tor of New Re­vised United Methodist Church in Tay­lor’s Is­land (Dorch­ester County).

“Racism is still alive” through­out Kent County, said Brooks, iden­ti­fy­ing by name all five in­cor­po­rated towns and some ham­lets.

She de­manded that the school district do a bet­ter job of pre­par­ing all stu­dents for state tests and that me­di­ocrity from the su­per­in­ten­dent not be ac­cepted.

She called on the pub­lic to in­sist that elected of­fi­cials — sin­gling out county com­mis­sion­ers Wil­liam Pick­rum, Ron Fithian and Bill Short — “serve the peo­ple of Kent County ... re­gard­less of where they come from.”

Next year is an elec­tion year. Vote for change, Brooks said.

“Stop hav­ing a slave men­tal­ity. Speak up and ask ques­tions,” she said.

“I’m black and I’m proud. ... I’m not go­ing to stand for what my fa­ther stood for,” Brooks said in clos­ing. She re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion. “The guest speaker was very in­sight­ful in her com­ments. We are all re­spon­si­ble for our com­mu­nity,” said Pick­rum, pres­i­dent of the Kent County Com­mis­sion­ers, who was there to present a procla­ma­tion to the NAACP.

He said he was only one per­son, “but one voice can be loud,” and he promised to share Brooks’ com­ments with his col­leagues.

Bill Flook, pres­i­dent of the Demo­cratic Club of Kent County, said Brooks “re­minds us that we have a lot of work to do, and we do it best if we do it to­gether.”

He an­nounced that Ben Jeal­ous, for­mer pres­i­dent and CEO of the na­tional NAACP, will stop in Kent County next month as he cam­paigns for gover­nor of Mary­land. Jeal­ous will be at the Clarence Hawkins Com­mu­nity Cen­ter in Wor­ton at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 as part of the Demo­cratic Club of Kent County’s “Meet the Can­di­dates” se­ries.

Larry Sa­muels, a mem­ber of the Kent County NAACP branch, sum­ma­rized 100 years of ac­com­plish­ments of the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Founded in 1909, it is the largest and most widely rec­og­nized civil rights or­ga­ni­za­tion in the United States.

The NAACP’s prin­ci­pal ob­jec­tive is to en­sure po­lit­i­cal, ed­u­ca­tional, so­cial and eco­nomic equal­ity of mi­nor­ity group cit­i­zens and elim­i­na­tion of racial prej­u­dice.

Brook­lynn Scott has joined the youth chap­ter of the NAACP at Clark At­lanta Univer­sity in Ge­or­gia, where she is a fresh­man.

Scott and Cameron But­ler, a fresh­man at Mor­gan State Univer­sity, were the re­cip­i­ents of $500 schol­ar­ships from the Kent branch. Both are 2017 grad­u­ates of Kent County High School.

Cri­te­ria used to se­lect the schol­ar­ship re­cip­i­ents in­cluded aca­demic achieve­ment and in­volve­ment in their com­mu­ni­ties and “so­cial causes,” Sa­muels said in his in­tro­duc­tion.

But­ler, who is ma­jor­ing in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion, thanked the NAACP. He said he was “off to a first-rate start” at Mor­gan.

Scott is ma­jor­ing in crim­i­nal jus­tice and hopes to at­tend law school af­ter she earns an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree. She grad­u­ated from high school with Dis­tin­guished Honors (cu­mu­la­tive grade point av­er­age of 3.67 or higher) and re­ceived one of the Ch­ester Val­ley Min­is­ters As­so­ci­a­tion Hu­man­i­tar­ian Awards at the an­nual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Break­fast in Jan­uary.

Scott was un­able to at­tend Saturday night’s ban­quet, but sent a let­ter of thanks that was read by her mother Sharone.

In her let­ter, Scott said she hoped “to be a per­son that makes a dif­fer­ence in the world.”

She promised to “work hard and prove my- self wor­thy” and said she was “look­ing for­ward to help­ing a stu­dent one day like she has been helped.”

Ear­lier in the pro­gram, Ju­dith Ken­nard and Margie Baker re­ceived ser­vice awards.

Mem­bers of Aaron Chapel United Methodist Church, near Rock Hall, nom­i­nated Ken­nard for her faith­ful­ness, com­mit­ment and vis­i­bil­ity in her church and com­mu­nity. She has served as usher, trustee and trea­surer of Aaron Chapel; is a for­mer mem­ber of the Kent County Board of Elec­tions; and re­cip­i­ent of the Life­long Learner Award from the state of Mary­land.

Baker, who at­tends Bethel AME Church in Ch­ester­town, is re­tired af­ter more than 40 years as a teacher in Kent County schools. She has been a vol­un­teer and board mem­ber with the Kent County Food Pantry, served on the boards of Up­per Shore Ag­ing and Com­mis­sion on Ag­ing, as­sisted with voter reg­is­tra­tion and has held many of­fices in her church.

The Pot­ter’s House Min­istries hosted Saturday night’s ban­quet. Friends in Faith pro­vided the mu­si­cal en­ter­tain­ment.

Many mem­bers of the lo­cal chap­ter of the NAACP par­tic­i­pated in the pro­gram, which be­gan at 4 p.m. They in­cluded Bishop Charles M. Til­gh­man Sr., pres­i­dent, and Emer­son Cot­ton, vice pres­i­dent. Alma White pre­sented the ser­vice award re­cip­i­ents.

In his clos­ing remarks, Til­gh­man thanked var­i­ous in­vited guests — Sher­iff John Price, cir­cuit court Judge Har­ris Mur­phy, the Rev. Henry Sa­betti of Shrew­bury Par­ish, Wayne Ben­jamin of the Ch­ester­town Lions Club and War­den Her­bert Den­nis — for “work­ing to­gether to make a dif­fer­ence, to bring equal­ity and jus­tice to make our com­mu­ni­ties bet­ter.”

The ban­quet theme was “Celebrating our past, thriv­ing in our present and in­vest­ing in our fu­ture.”

“If we want to thrive in our fu­ture, we have to come to­gether,” Til­gh­man said.

He ap­pealed to the au­di­ence mem­bers, black and white, to join the NAACP as an or­ga­ni­za­tion of change.

“Stop com­plain­ing. Get up and do some­thing,” Til­gh­man said.

While ac­knowl­edg­ing that pub­lic schools and law en­force­ment need to do a bet­ter job of equally serv­ing all de­mo­graph­ics, Til­gh­man said “we need to look at our­selves.”

He said band­ing to­gether against in­jus­tice and meet­ing hate with love and for­give­ness were the best ways to make pos­i­tive change.

“To law en­force­ment and ev­ery or­ga­ni­za­tion here tonight, we are here to work with you to make a dif­fer­ence. We are just a phone call away,” Til­gh­man said.”

The event con­cluded with au­di­ence mem­bers hold­ing hands and singing “We Shall Over­come.”


The Rev. Joan Brooks, key­note speaker for the NAACP’s an­nual Free­dom Fund Schol­ar­ship Ban­quet in Kent County, urges the au­di­ence to stand up against in­jus­tice.


From left, Dana Bowser, Zita Seals, Tamika Lewis and Tory Brown per­form as Friends in Faith.

Cameron But­ler, a fresh­man at Mor­gan State Univer­sity, re­ceived a $500 schol­ar­ship from the Kent County branch of the NAACP. At left is Bishop Charles M. Til­gh­man Sr., branch pres­i­dent.

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