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Keyword: african-american

Owings Mills Ceremony Celebrates African-American Heritage

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz celebrated Baltimore County’s African-American heritage this morning by recognizing the 2018 winners of the County’s 3rd annual Louis S. Diggs Award. The ceremony, held at the County Campus in Owings Mills, celebrated Baltimore County’s African-American heritage. This year’s honorees are Jake Oliver, publisher of the AFRO-American Newspaper; Dr. Tim Tooten, WBAL-TV reporter and pastor of Harvest Christian Ministries; and Interim Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Verletta White.

“I am proud to recognize these outstanding individuals whose life work represents a commitment to the celebration of the African-American experience in Baltimore County, and whose accomplishments inspire others to strive for success,” Kamenetz said.

Kamenetz created this annual award in 2016 to recognize individuals who demonstrate a commitment to promoting African-American history and culture in Baltimore County. The award was named in honor of local African-American historian and lecturer, Louis S. Diggs, who has researched and published numerous local history books and is President of the Diggs-Johnson Museum in Granite.  “Louis Diggs is truly a Baltimore County treasure, and I am always honored to be in his presence,” Kamenetz said.

"This was a wonderful event and it an honor to recognize these outstanding individuals who are doing important work in the community," said Baltimore County Council Chair Julian Jones. 

John “Jake” Oliver Jr., Publisher and CEO, the AFRO American Newspaper

Distinguished as a visionary leader and trailblazer in the communications field, John, “Jake” Oliver, has been at the helm of The AFRO American Newspaper since 1982. The longest-running African-American family owned newspaper in the nation, the AFRO has served as a catalyst for social change from the post-slavery era, through desegregation, to the present day. As the great-grandson of founder John H. Murphy Sr., Jake has led the AFRO’s transition from being an industry leader in print, to prominence in digital and social media publishing. Jake’s tireless efforts to disseminate information and promote awareness in the African-American community have helped to advance the AFRO and pave the way for many other black-owned newspapers nationwide.

Dr. Tim Tooten, WBAL Education Reporter, Author and Minister

Dr. Tim Tooten, Sr. is an institution in Baltimore County and beyond, both as an Emmy-Award winning journalist and gifted storyteller who has made the news come alive on WBAL-TV (NBC) for almost three decades. As Baltimore’s only full-time television education reporter, he focuses attention on issues that matter – inside and outside of the classroom. Dr. Tooten was awarded the prestigious National Headliner Award for his “Africa’s Maryland” documentary which also earned him a National Edward Murrow award. His “Africa’s Maryland” documentary prompted an extensive cultural and educational exchange between Maryland and Liberia, West Africa.

Dr. Tooten is the founder and pastor of Harvest Christian Ministries in Perry Hall and author of the recent best-selling book, “Leading by Example – A Parental Guide to Teaching and Modeling Christian Faith at Home.” Dr. Tooten is active in the community as an affiliate professor at Loyola University of Maryland. He’s married and is the proud father of three adult children and two grandchildren.

Verletta White, Interim Superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools

A dynamic, innovative, and proven leader, Baltimore County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Ms. Verletta White describes herself first as a teacher dedicated to strengthening literacy across the curriculum to prepare every student for college and career success. Ms. White leads the 25th largest school system in the nation, with a growing student enrollment of more than 113,000 diverse students, and more than 18,500 employees including 9,000 teachers. 

Ms. White has risen through the ranks of the BCPS superintendent’s senior and executive staffs since 2007, in the capacities of executive director of professional development; area assistant superintendent for the northeast area; and assistant superintendent for elementary schools. Her first central office position was coordinator of leadership development, where she utilized her classroom teaching and mentoring experiences to foster the professional growth of teachers and administrators on a system level. She has served as principal, assistant principal, and teacher mentor in BCPS. Ms. White began her teaching career in 1992, as an elementary school teacher in Baltimore City and transitioned to a teaching position in Baltimore County in 1995. Ms. White is the first woman to lead the Baltimore County public school system.

Annual Award Honoring African-American Heritage in Baltimore County Presented to Three Distinguished Recipients

Today, at the Owings Mills Library with Louis Diggs in attendance, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced the 2017 recipients of The Louis S. Diggs Award—a recognition event that takes place annually during Black History Month. This award is presented to individuals whose life work represents a commitment to the celebration of the African-American experience in Baltimore County, and whose efforts inspire others to strive for success and to celebrate the diversity and achievement that is our strength.

The 2017 Awardees are:

Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, President, University of Maryland Baltimore County
Serving as President of UMBC since 1992, Dr. Hrabowski’s research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. He was named by President Obama to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME (2012) and one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News and World Report (2008), Dr. Hrabowski has been touted as one of America’s top leaders by numerous national and worldwide publications, institutions, and foundations.

Dr. Dallas Dance, Superintendent, Baltimore County Public Schools
Distinguished as a visionary leader, Superintendent Dance has united BCPS into a powerful force committed to producing globally competitive graduates. Since 2012, Dr. Dance has been responsible for overseeing the instruction of 112,000 students in 173 schools, centers and programs in the 25th largest school system in the nation.  Dr. Dance’s leadership was recognized with his appointment to President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Delegate Adrienne Jones, Speaker Pro Tem, Maryland House of Delegates
Since 1997, Adrienne Jones has been a member of the Maryland House of Delegates for District 10. Delegate Jones is the current Speaker Pro Tem, holding that post since 2003, and the first African-American female to serve in that position in the State of Maryland. Born and educated in Baltimore County, Delegate Jones was employed by County Government before retiring in 2014 where she was the director of the Office of Minority Affairs, the Office of Fair Practices, and the deputy director of Human Resources.

About Louis S. Diggs

The award is named for Baltimore County resident Louis S. Diggs, a respected and distinguished authority on County African-American history. Diggs’ research and historical perspective has guided him to publish 10 books; organize tours in the community; present lectures; and manage the Diggs-Johnson Museum in Granite.

“No one has done more to preserve and promote African-American history in Baltimore County than Mr. Louis Diggs,” stated Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “I am immensely proud to present this year’s Diggs award to three very distinguished individuals who embody the true spirit of this honor. Freeman Hrabowski, Dallas Dance, and Adrienne Jones are outstanding leaders who make a difference in our County each and every day.”

Revised October 16, 2020               
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