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Several county residents were recognized for their dedication to Calvert County and their efforts to make it a better community at the sixth annual Concerned Black Women of Calvert County luncheon and awards gala.

As the organization celebrated its ninth anniversary and sixth annual luncheon and awards gala Saturday at the Rod‘N’Reel Restaurant in Chesapeake Beach, seven awards of excellence were presented for Woman of the Year, business, education, health, youth and community.

Concerned Black Women of Calvert County’s Harriet Tubman Woman of the Year Award was presented to Gwendolyn Brooks, a retired Calvert County Public Schools teacher.

“I never had any idea I’d become Woman of the Year,” Brooks said. “I have enjoyed my 35 years of teaching. I did not want to leave, but I knew it was time to move on.”

During her 35-year teaching career, Brooks taught at Beach, Calvert and Barstow elementary schools. She received two Teacher of the Year awards during her career and a “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers” award.

Brooks said she worked “so hard” with the curriculum, readings and programs because “there were so many programs that presented us in a certain way, and I wanted to make sure my voice was heard — that we did not choose those materials.”

Brooks said she always tried to be a voice for children when it came to the achievement gap between groups of students, saying, “We need to do more than just talk about it. We need to put it into action.”

Dr. Dhimitri E. Gross received the Myrtle M. Patten Health Award for her role as a family physician in the county.

“Let me just tell you that Dr. Gross is the kind of doctor you want to have provide your care,” CBWCC President Nicole Cooksey said.

Gross works at Bayside Primary Care in Prince Frederick and part time at Patient First in Waldorf and recently obtained consulting privileges at Calvert Memorial Hospital.

The Madam C.J. Walker Business Award was presented to Sherri Bullard-Barber for co-founding Natures Soft, a small business, with her husband 12 years ago. Natures Soft is a body care product line for those who are allergic to and have had negative side effects from chemicals and additives in commercial product lines, according to the awards program.

Cooksey said Bullard-Barber embodies the “American Dream” and is one of those people who “sees a problem and goes out and does something about it.”

Pamelia K. Moore received the Harriet Elizabeth Brown Education Award for her 36½ years as an educator with Calvert County Public Schools.

“For the past 36 years, she has dedicated her life to serving the children of Calvert County in and out of the classroom,” the awards program stated.

Moore said she has always loved being a teacher, even from when she was little and used to play school with her siblings and friends.

The Ailene Stamper Youth Award was presented to Northern High School sophomore Jerrell Michael Jones. He has been on the honor roll throughout his school career and, last year, as a freshman, received straight A’s. Jones aspires to be a mechanical or architectural engineer and is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers Jr. Chapter, according to the program.

Jones thanked his mom and his aunt “for their support right now, and I thank the Concerned Black Women for this award.”

Calvert County Circuit Court Judge E. Gregory Wells received a Community Excellence Award for his commitment to the community.

“As a judge, especially on the Circuit Court, you’re not out in the public that often, so when you do get a chance to be honored by an organization as outstanding as Concerned Black Women of Calvert County, you snap to attention and come forward and you receive the award,” Wells said.

Another Community Excellence Award went to Chesapeake Current founder and owner Diane Burr for her work with other businesses, nonprofits, residents and the arts.

Concerned Black Women of Calvert County co-founder Doris Cammack-Spencer said she chose Burr for the award “because of what she has done for our community with her newspaper.”

Burr said she was “so honored” to receive the award, and “it just really choked me up.”

Also during the luncheon, Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s), who has filed to run for attorney general in the 2014 election, spoke about the recent U.S. District Court decision affecting Maryland’s higher education.

On Oct. 7, U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake ruled that the state has allowed too much academic overlap among its public universities, tilting the market in favor of traditionally white institutions. The ruling follows a 2012 trial in which historically black Morgan State, Bowie State and Coppin State universities and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, on behalf of students, sued the state of Maryland.

“Blake ruled that state policies and practices of ‘unnecessary program duplication’ have ‘segregative effects,’ perpetuating imbalances that linger from the era when Maryland ran a dual system of public higher education: one track for students who were white and an inferior one for those who were black. Blake ruled that the state must remedy the problem.” according to a Washington Post article.

Braveboy described the state’s loss as “historic” and said the case “will go down in history.”

“The state now has the opportunity to create high-demand, niche programs at historically black colleges and universities in the state that will attract a diverse student population,” she said. “… So, we’re asking this governor to do his part. He has the ability to right certain wrongs of the past.”

ascott@somdnews.com