An­nual lun­cheon cel­e­brates Mary­land’s women lead­ers

Bal­ti­more mayor was key­note speaker at the an­nual event

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By PAUL LAGASSE pla­gasse@somd­news.com

Heavy rains did not pre­vent a full house at the Colony South Ho­tel in Clin­ton on Tues­day for U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md., 5th) an­nual Fifth Dis­trict Women’s Equal­ity Day lun­cheon. More than 300 guests and elected of­fi­cials at­tended this 15th oc­ca­sion of the event.

Hoyer noted that this year marked the 97th an­niver­sary of the 19th Amend­ment grant­ing women the right to vote, as well as the 45th an­niver­sary of Ti­tle IX, which pro­hibits gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion in pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion

and pro­grams that re­ceive fed­eral fund­ing.

Read­ing the text of the amend­ment, Hoyer de­scribed them as “28 words that have made a dif­fer­ence in our coun­try.”

“The 19th Amend­ment and Ti­tle IX, from equal ac­cess to the class­rooms of our schools and uni­ver­si­ties to equal­ity and ac­cess in ath­let­ics ... make it clear that women must never again be shut out and de­nied the op­por­tu­ni­ties that ev­ery­one deser ves,” Hoyer said.

Hoyer cred­ited Ti­tle IX for help­ing to make pos­si­ble for the color guard that opened the event to be made up en­tirely of fe­male cadets from Thomas Stone High School’s JROTC pro­gram.

“Ti­tle IX made a dif­fer­ence,” he said. “That con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment made a dif­fer­ence. But as I say about the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence, it may be self-ev­i­dent that we are equal, but it’s not self-ex­e­cut­ing that we are equal.

“Th­ese young women are pur­su­ing their ed­u­ca­tion as well as their in­volve­ment in the march­ing band and other ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties thanks to the doors that were opened to them and their pre­de­ces­sors by Ti­tle IX.”

Hoyer noted that for the first time since he be­gan serv­ing in Congress in 1981, the Mary­land del­e­ga­tion does not in­clude women. “That’s not a good thing, ob­vi­ously,” he said. “We need that per­spec­tive, we need that rep­re­sen­ta­tion.”

Hy­attsville Mayor Can­dace B. Hollingsworth ex­panded on Hoyer’s ad­mo­ni­tion to avoid fo­cus­ing on losses or dreams de­nied in the wake of the 2016 elec­tions.

She cited the ex­am­ple of Heather Heyer, the woman who was re­cently killed dur­ing the protests in Char­lottesville, Va.

“She was an ev­ery­day woman, not elected, not cho­sen,” Hollingsworth said. “She was some­one who de­cided that she wanted to cham­pion what was im­por­tant to her.”

Hollingsworth said that dis­man­tling racism and xeno­pho­bia is ev­ery­day work. “We show our faces ev­ery­where, so we have to feel free to oc­cupy that space when­ever we have it, and do so un­apolo­get­i­cally,” she said.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) re­called how peo­ple came to­gether to ad­dress racism fol­low­ing the June 2015 shoot­ing at the Eman­u­ael African Methodist Epis­co­pal Church in Charleston, S.C. “We are here at an­other im­por­tant mo­ment for our coun­try,” he said. “A mo­ment that does in­volve moral clar­ity from all of us. It is a mo­ment not to be silent, but for ev­ery­body to be speak­ing out loudly.”

Van Hollen cited the ex­am­ple of the Women’s March that took place in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and around the world on Jan­uary 21 as an ex­am­ple of ef­fec­tive lead­er­ship by women. “Women were lead­ing the ef­fort then and they have been lead­ing the move­ment ever since to make sure that we as a coun­try do stand up for what’s right,” he said.

Prince Ge­orge’s County State’s At­tor­ney An­gela Al­so­brooks (D) said, “The right to vote has not lost its power.” She re­called how her great-grand­mother had fled South Carolina af­ter the mur­der of her hus­band by a sher­iff’s deputy and set­tled in Prince Ge­orge’s County, “a place where we could live in dig­nity and peace, and where she though we might have fu­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

“Truly, I be­lieve the best is yet to come,” she said. “We should never lose sight of the power of the fe­male. We have the power ev­ery day to make de­ci­sions about who ed­u­cates our chil­dren, who will keep our el­ders safe, who will care for the sick and dy­ing. Th­ese are de­ci­sions that we still have the power ev­ery day to de­cide.”

In her key­note speech, Bal­ti­more Mayor Cather­ine E. Pugh (D) of­fered ex­am­ples from her own ca­reer that demon­strated women’s power to de­cide.

When she joined the board of the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land Med­i­cal Sys­tems, for ex­am­ple, she helped in­crease the per­cent­age of its bud­get ded­i­cated to treat­ing mi­nor­ity and women pa­tients and re­fo­cus more than a quar­ter of its in­vest­ment port­fo­lio on African-Amer­i­can and mi­nor­ity owned busi­nesses. She ex­plained that she is striv­ing for sim­i­lar ac­com­plish­ments with the City of Bal­ti­more’s in­vest­ments as well.

“I came here this af­ter­noon to de­liver a mes­sage of why we should sup­port each other and why we need to men­tor oth­ers,” Pugh said.

Pugh re­called how she met the pres­i­dent of the stu­dent body at Cop­pin State Uni­ver­sity and in­vited her to be­come an in­tern. She quickly pro­gressed to be­come a staff mem­ber of the city hous­ing de­part­ment and then a lob­by­ist for the dis­abled. “She is now the deputy di­rec­tor of gov­ern­ment re­la­tions for the City of Bal­ti­more,” Pugh said. “I have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to not only men­tor, but to sup­port and en­cour­age be­cause I ex­pect great things from her.”

“We won’t be in th­ese par­tic­u­lar po­si­tions for­ever, and we should not be,” Pugh told the au­di­ence. “We should be en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers to take our places at some point.”

“Not too soon, though,” she added, “be­cause I’ve got a lot to do.”

STAFF PHOTO BY PAUL LAGASSE

The 15th an­nual Women’s Equal­ity Day lun­cheon, hosted by U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, was a sell-out event.

Above left, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer speaks dur­ing the 15th an­nual Women’s Equal­ity Day lun­cheon, which he tra­di­tion­ally hosts ev­ery Au­gust at the Colony South Ho­tel in Clin­ton. Above right, Bal­ti­more Mayor Cather­ine E. Pugh was the key­note speaker at this year’s an­nual Women’s Equal­ity Day lun­cheon hosted by U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer. In her ad­dress, Pugh said of women, “If you’re not in the room, you’re not in the dis­cus­sion.”

Above left, Prince Ge­orge’s County State’s At­tor­ney An­gela Al­so­brooks said that “the right to vote has not lost its power.” Above right, Sen. Chris Van Hollen speaks dur­ing the 15th an­nual Women’s Equal­ity Day lun­cheon hosted by U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer on Aug. 15 at the Colony South Ho­tel in Clin­ton.

STAFF PHOTO BY PAUL LAGASSE

Cadets of the Thomas Stone High School JROTC pro­gram served as the color guard at the 15th an­nual Women’s Equal­ity Day lun­cheon hosted by U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer. From left are Se­nior Army In­struc­tor Lt. Col. (Ret.) Karen Him­mel­he­ber, C/Sfc. Talitheia Brack­ett, Hoyer, C/Sgt. Anas­ta­sia Wyne, C/Staff Sgt. Jas­mine Smith and C/Sgt. Maya Banks.

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