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Honoring Calvert’s Civil Rights

Ninth-grader Dia Brown, left, and seventh-graders Danielle Fry and Nina St. Hillaire, right, earned Calvert County’s first-ever Harriet Elizabeth Brown History Fair Awards. With them is Calvert County Commission for Women Chair Margaret Dunkle.

In 1937, 30-year-old school teacher Harriet Elizabeth Brown successfully sued Calvert County Schools for paying her about half as much as an equally qualified white teacher: $1,100 a year for white teachers, compared to only $600 for African American teachers. She surely never imagined that students of today would be inspired by her actions, much less that they would develop award-winning History Fair projects documenting her pioneering success. Yet that is exactly what has happened.
    Just this past week, the Calvert County Commission for Women — with eight co-sponsoring organizations, from the NAACP to the Historical Society — awarded the first-ever Harriet Elizabeth Brown History Fair Awards.
    Dia Brown, a 9th-grader at Huntingtown High School, won in the Senior Division for a dramatic performance that portrayed the words of Ms. Brown and her 29-year-old NAACP attorney, Thurgood Marshall, who later became the first African American Supreme Court Justice.
    Danielle Fry and Nina St. Hillaire, both 7th-graders at Plum Point Middle School, won the Junior Division for an exhibit about Ms. Brown, “The Heroine in Our Backyard.”
    Both of these projects were of such high quality that they are advancing to compete in the May 3 statewide History Fair at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County. In all, more than 25 Calvert County students developed History Fair Projects based on Harriet Elizabeth Brown’s life and the issues her landmark lawsuit raised.
    Congratulations to these talented young women — and kudos to their families, teachers and schools for supporting these projects that tell the story of Calvert County’s own civil rights pioneer!

–Margaret Dunkle, Chair, Calvert County Commission for Women