Events Include Community Conversation Jan. 14, Prayer Breakfasts Jan. 1

CSM Executive Director of Institutional Equity and Diversity Office Dr. Carmen Phelps will be one of five speakers opening The Big Conversation, a community-wide civil conversation on dismantling racism, “I Didn’t Know…Exploring Racism and Privilege in Our Community,” from 2-5 p.m., Jan. 14 at Middleham and St. Peter’s Parish Hall in Lusby.As organizations gather throughout Southern Maryland to commemorate the January 15 birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., the College of Southern Maryland is joining in the conversation and celebrations occurring locally Jan. 14 and 15.

“As a diversity practitioner, educator and administrator, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to encourage greater understanding and awareness of key issues impacting our collective capacity to build community while honoring difference here in Southern Maryland. Given the unique, rich yet complicated cultural, social and political history of this region, which continues to inform the experiences of current communities, I can’t think of a more timely moment in which to have this conversation,” Phelps said.

During the program Southern Maryland leaders will discuss local issues and attendees will share experiences in small group sessions, led by trained facilitators from the Community Mediation Centers of Calvert and St. Mary’s counties, to understand how individuals and communities can dismantle racism. The outcome will be suggestions on how racism might be dismantled in Southern Maryland, according to program organizers.

The Big Conversation is sponsored by Middleham and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in partnership with Calvert NAACP, St. Mary’s NAACP, Calvert Library, the Community Mediation Centers of Calvert and St. Mary’s counties, CSM and the Concerned Black Women of Calvert County. For information, visit

In addition to Sunday’s program, CSM is supporting the local efforts in Charles, St. Mary’s and Calvert counties on annual prayer breakfasts on Jan. 15 and their associated activities.

In Calvert County, the 32nd annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Breakfast will begin at 8:30 a.m., Jan. 15, and will feature guest speaker Dr. Janet L. Sims Wood, an historian, publisher and reference librarian. The program will honor local contributors Rev. Dana M. Jones of Mt. Olive United Methodist Church and Community Service Honoree Eric Franklin. The event will also recognize scholarship recipient Corina Nicole Jones and feature musical performer Jeremy Malloy. The event is sponsored by the National Congress of Black Women Calvert County Chapter, College of Southern Maryland and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Calvert County Chapter.

The program will be held in the Rod ‘n’ Reel Restaurant, 4165 Mears Avenue, Chesapeake Beach. For information, contact Glinda Anderson at 301-855-1458 or Gladys Jones at 410-586-8305. Tickets are required.

The Charles County NAACP presents its 23rd annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast, beginning at 9 a.m., Jan. 15, at North Point High School, 2500 Davis Road, Waldorf. Keynote speaker is CNN Correspondent and Author April Ryan. Tickets are required. For information, call 240-427-5131 or visit

In St. Mary’s County, the 14th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast will feature keynote speaker Nandi Crosby-Jordan, beginning at 6:30 a.m., Jan. 15, followed by a day of service. The breakfast and program begin at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, with the day of service including panel discussions on “The Color of Unity: Boldly Building Bridges Across Communities,” as well as blood pressure screenings, a food drive for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, a coat drive, backpack giveaway and voter registration.

The program will be held in the J. Frank Raley Great Room, Campus Center, 18952 E. Fisher Road, St. Mary’s City.  For information, visit or email