As we celebrate African American History month, I am reminded of one of our own who made a significant contribution to society. The person who comes to mind is Harriett Elizabeth Brown, an educator in Calvert County.  Ms. Brown, with assistance from NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall, challenged the established policy of paying white teachers double what they paid black teachers.  Ms. Brown showed her leadership as she became the lead plaintiff in this case in the fight for equal pay.

Not only did she exhibit leadership, she showed commitment, spirit, will, persistence and confidence in this endeavor. Her desire to see this change paid off in 1937 when Calvert County settled the case in her favor. Taking a stand on this issue helped all of Maryland’s black teachers and influenced other jurisdictions to change their discriminatory practices. 

So, in 2015, one of the first actions of the legislatively appointed Harriet Elizabeth Brown Commemoration Task Force was to recommend that the old SMECO building be named the interim Harriet Elizabeth Brown Community Center, Prince Frederick’s new community center.  We are now at the point where 27 acres on Fairground Road has been purchased by the county for a new and better Community Center and Park. 

All of Calvert’s citizens will have an opportunity to suggest what will be offered in the new facility and space on a survey that is presently being conducted by the Parks and Recreation Department.  I encourage everyone, both young and old, to seize the opportunity to let your voices be heard by completing the survey at The deadline to complete the survey is April 30th.

I also encourage your active participation in expressing your feelings about the need for the facility and space and the financial support needed to build it.  Please advocate at upcoming events, hearings and activities about the new Prince Frederick Master Plan.  Your involvement in this process will go a long way toward replicating “the HEB spirit.” 

Finally, let us do all work together to make the new facility and space a reality.  Let it be a place where youth will have positive opportunities and experiences that will help them grow up healthy and responsible.    And let it be a place where adults will have a safe, comfortable and convenient place to participate in community groups and cultural events. 

Guffrie Smith

St. Leonard, MD

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