Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich today applauded the selection six individuals—each with different backgrounds, but all of whom have made significant contributions to the County’s legacy—who will become the newest members of the County’s Human Rights Hall of Fame at induction ceremonies on Sunday, Nov. 20, in Germantown. The12th biennial event will see the inductions of Daryl Davis, Rev. Dr. Philip W. Davis Sr. (posthumously), Dr. Jeremiah Floyd, Janice Freeman, Willie Pearl Mackey King and Charles L. (Chuck) Short.
The Human Rights Hall of Fame honors individuals who have made great personal sacrifices in contributing to human and civil rights in Montgomery County, either as trailblazers of the past or as current light bearers in the struggle. This year’s honorees were selected among nominations made by community members. A committee of current Human Rights Hall of Fame members reviewed the nominations and selected the new members. The honorees will be recognized for their visionary leadership, outstanding achievements and altruism on the road to eliminating discrimination and advancing human rights in ceremonies starting at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20, at the BlackRock Center for the Arts. The center is located at 12901 Town Commons Dr. in Germantown.
“The newest inductees epitomize why the County’s Human Rights Hall of Fame was created,” said County Executive Elrich. “Many people contribute in so many ways to make Montgomery County a great place. Daryl Davis, Rev. Dr. Philip Davis Sr., Dr. Jeremiah Floyd, Janice Freeman, Willie Pearl Mackey King and Chuck Short are people who have dedicated their lives to doing just that, while also carving out paths that make our County more equitable and more fair.” Friends and families of the inductees and community members are invited to join the ceremonies. The event will include performances from area students in the NAACP Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) and the Halley Shoenberg Trio. There also will be a special tribute to fallen members of the Human Rights Hall of Fame.
- Daryl Davis: A world-renown musician and author, Daryl learned Montgomery County had a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, and among the many notable achievements in his life, was determined to extinguish it. Daryl got to know the leader of many chapters of the Maryland Klan. While establishing this relationship, there were times when he feared for his life. Over time, that leader left the KKK and dissolved all of his chapters in Maryland. Because of Daryl’s efforts, at least 200 KKK members abandoned the Klan and turned their robes over to Daryl. Daryl has given many presentations at the Silver Spring Civic Center, Montgomery College, OASIS, churches and synagogues, teaching people how to communicate effectively with people whom they may disagree. He uses examples of his successful dealings with the KKK and neo-Nazis. Daryl presents music with great power, but it is his work as a race reconciliatory that makes him a force. Known for his energetic style of boogie-woogie piano, Mr. Davis has played with such musicians as Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, B. B. King and Bruce Hornsby. He was awarded the “Best Traditional Blues/R&B Instrumentalist” at the 2009 Washington Area Music Awards. He is the subject of the 2016 documentary Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America. He was recently honored by Strathmore as one of its “Monuments” noting that “His artistry and bravery are an inspiration to us all.”
- Rev. Dr. Philip W. Davis Sr. (inducted posthumously): The seventh of eight sons, Rev. Dr. Davis grew up in a household guided by family and faith. His faither, Rev. James William Davis, was the pastor at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Rockville. Among the lessons he learned at an early age were to pursue a life of service and to strive to achieve inner potential. Born in 1922 in Washington, D.C., he passed away in July—shortly after his 100th birthday. For most of the past century, Dr. Davis was dedicated to helping others and working for freedom for all. A World War II veteran, he served in New Guinea and the Philippines, achieving the rank of master sergeant. He became a contractor and an entrepreneur, owning several businesses over the years, including 30 yeas in the automotive industry. During the 1960’s, Dr. Davis participated in the Civil Rights Movement. He was arrested while walking in a protest line against a Rockville restaurant that would not serve food to Black patrons. In 1966, while working on a car, he said he received a direct message from God to “Go preach my gospel.” In 1974, he established the Inter-denominational Church of God (ICOG) and served as senior pastor for 38 years, retiring in 2012 at age 90. Among his many honors were receiving “A Key to the City of Gaithersburg” in 1989 and being awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Evangel Theological Seminary in Harrisonburg, Va.
- Dr. Jeremiah Floyd: Throughout his life, Dr. Floyd has been a voice for human rights and equity. From his undergraduate years at Allen University, where he protested segregation, to his service in the military where he fought to include more African Americans in his Senior Leadership training courses, Dr. Floyd never shied from supporting human rights. He has continued to be the beacon for justice through his public service. Dr. Floyd was the third African American on the Montgomery County Board of Education. Dr. Floyd supported programs that would lead to the academic success of students as the associate executive director of the National School Boards Association. Dr. Floyd has been a guiding light in Montgomery County. He has served on a myriad of committees within the community, opening the lines of discussion to ensure that diverse opinions are welcomed and included. His grasp of the challenges that Montgomery County has, and continues to have, enabled him to influence how the County moves to help ethnic minorities. Dr. Floyd served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951-1968 during which time he was the air training command senior instructor (mathematics). Presently, he is the first vice president for the Montgomery County branch of the NAACP and member of the Human Rights Commission.
- Janice Freeman: For the past six years, Ms. Freeman has served as a Montgomery County Office of Human Rights Commissioner charged with eliminating discrimination, prejudice, intolerance and bigotry in housing, recreation, education, health, employment and public accommodations. All that she accomplished before this appointment had her well-prepared to advocate for change and fairness. Her career in commercial and residential real estate provided her with extensive experience training and counseling others in low- and moderate-income housing. In 1996, she co-founded the African American Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County, Inc. and now serves as its president and CEO. The organization addresses the challenges faced by African American businesses due to the inequities in obtaining contracts on an even playing field. For more than 12 years, the chamber has hosted its “Celebration of Excellence Award” dinner recognizing outstanding contributions of the County’s African American leaders, with awards to businesswomen, businessmen, educators, community service and humanitarian actions. It also provides scholarships to high school and college students. She has helped owners of small minority-owned businesses with development, program planning and with obtaining State and Federal certifications. In 2000, Ms. Freeman was a co-founder and organizer of the Minority Legislative Breakfast, a collaborative annual event hosted by the African American Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County, Inc., the Asian American Political Alliance and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County. This gathering of leaders addresses priorities to State and County representatives.
- Willie Pearl Mackey King: A former secretary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference who transcribed Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Willie Pearl Mackey King knew how to decipher his writing. She was used to his sloppy cursive and large vocabulary. But his notes—smuggled from a Birmingham, Ala., jail on napkins, toilet paper, newspapers and a greasy paper bag—were extremely difficult to read. The Dallas Morning News reported that the young secretary scattered the smudged scraps across her desk. She worked with Dr. King’s chief of staff, the Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker, to turn the notes into a cohesive reply to White clergymen who called Dr. King’s civil rights demonstrations “unwise and untimely” in a full-page newspaper ad. Ms. Mackey, who grew up in Vidalia, Ga., knew little of King before she took a job with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She had quit two jobs because of racism. She left a lunch counter job on a college campus when students came in wearing blackface. She quit a food service job at a hospital when a Black co-worker had a heart attack and no doctors or nurses would touch him. He waited for an hour on the floor of a loading dock for an ambulance to a public hospital. “I wasn’t trying to be a Civil Rights person or a protester,” Ms. Mackey said. “I wanted my job, but I didn’t want to work under those conditions.” She was 21 when she began working with Dr. King and his chief of staff, Mr. Walker. She said transcribing the letter in Birmingham was her greatest challenge. Except for a brief period, Mackey worked at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference until 1966. She spent the latter part of her career at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces Federal anti-discrimination laws. She is instrumental as an activist in Montgomery County’s pursuit for social justice. She has been presented with the African American Living Legend Award and the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies’ President’s Award.
- Charles L. (Chuck) Short: Few people know the Montgomery County Government, and are more a part of its evolvement, than Chuck Short. He has 50 years of experience leading and administering local government, private nonprofit and faith-based programs. His career has included 13 years of experience as senior advisor to two Montgomery County Executives; 20 years as adjunct professor at University of Maryland School of Public Policy; and 25 years as director of large direct service agencies. Currently, he is the senior advisor to the Montgomery County Superintendent of Schools and serves as a senior fellow to the Montgomery County Council. Each job he has held has put him in a better position to help people in his next position. From 1983-2002, he was the director of the County’s health and human service agency. He then became the secretary for justice and service for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. As secretary, he oversaw the Archdiocese’s social concerns efforts that included nonprofit direct service agencies, parish-based programs, local, State and national legislative and policy advocacy, community organizations and policy and program development. In 2019, Mr. Short founded Effective Kindness, LLC, which provides pro-bono technical and management advice to individuals and nonprofit organizations. He is the founding chair of the Montgomery County Collaboration Council for Children Youth and Families and was chair of the board of directors of, St Ann’s Infant and Maternity Center. He has been presented with an endless list of awards for his service and dedication, among them the Community Advocate of the Year for Passion for Learning, Inc.; the Michele Heidenberger Volunteer Award from St Ann’s Center for Children and Families; the S. Robert Cohen Award from the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes; the Phyllis Campbell Newsome Public Policy Leadership Award from the Center for Nonprofit Advancement; and the Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award from The Maryland Association of Non-Public Special Education Facilities.
More comprehensive biographies of each honoree will be available on the Office of Human Rights website following the event.
More information on the Office of Human Rights is available on its website.