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2020 Black History Month Leadership & Service Award Recipients

Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford joined the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism for the Black History Month Leadership & Service Awards ceremony in celebration of Black History Month proclaimed by Governor Hogan

This annual awards program celebrates and recognizes Maryland-based, African American-founded organizations or groups of volunteers that demonstrate commitment and dedication to changing Maryland for the better. 

All 2020 Black History Month Leadership & Service Awardees were recognized with the Senator Verda Freeman Welcome Legacy Award and celebrated for carrying on the legacy of specific career milestones. View Photos from the Event.

Nominate future awardees and learn more about past recipients, here.

1. BAAM – Building African American Minds (Easton)

Mission: The purpose of this program is to identify first grade African American males at risk for failure. BAAM aims to recognize and address socioeconomic barriers that inhibit their ability to learn effectively and provide academic enrichment in a safe, caring, and structured environment. BAAM partners with local faith-based organizations, educators, parents, and concerned citizens to accomplish the stated goals.

“More importantly, over 225 boys and their families have been given the opportunity to attend overnight camping trips, sporting events, educational tours, amusement parks, museums and many other events that support family togetherness. Academically, BAAM has strengthened the focus on achievement by offering incentives to the students. Finally, BAAM is exemplary in offering financial assistance to any BAAM high school graduate accepted to a two or four-year college. Seeing people give back in this way is heartwarming and truly remarkable!” -Nominator

2. Community Projects of Havre de Grace – Committee for Ernest Burke Statue (Harford County)

Mission: Spearheaded by Ms. Camay Murphy, Community Projects of Havre de Grace’s mission is to salute the contributions of Ernest Burke, a Havre de Grace native son, and his many baseball contributions as a former Negro League player. Additionally, to bring attention to Ernest Burke and how he used his athletic, spiritual, educational and social training from this hometown to become a renowned player with the Baltimore Elite Giants. Their goal is to inspire young athletes and others to learn through example that maintaining focus, consistency, and commitment will lead to fame.

“The statue itself serves as a remembrance of Burke but also a conversation starter for important dialogue and a touchstone for furthering understanding, research, and preservation of local heroes. Truly Ms. Murphy is a champion of our shared history of “every beautiful color.” – Nominator

3. Family Survivor Network (Baltimore)  


Mission: Family Survivor Network (FSN) supports mental, emotional, and physical health for surviving individuals, families, victims, and communities impacted by violence (e.g. murder, homicide, etc.) in Baltimore. FSN provides trauma-informed approaches, care, and responses to the communities and residents they serve through clinical, peer, and community-centered services, events, and activities.

“The founder, Corneilius Scott, began this work after his son was assaulted with a handgun. He stated that he made a commitment on his way to visit his son in the hospital. He asked that if God would save his son, he would commit to such work. His son survived and Mr. Scott has kept his promise.” – Nominator

Corneilius passed away unexpectedly on December 20, 2019. His legacy lives on through Family Survivor Network’s continued work. A bio in memory of Corneilius has been included after the list.

4. Frederick Douglass Honor Society (Easton) 

The Frederick Douglass Honor Society (FDHS) was formed in 2009 to honor Frederick Douglass in the county of his birth. FDHS’s mission is to continue the Douglass legacy of human rights, education, personal growth and involvement of citizens. In 2013, the organization began to award scholarships to high school graduates in Douglass’ honor. Sixteen scholarships have been awarded since then to nine different Talbot High School graduates. FDHS led the county-wide effort to create a year-long community celebration of the life of Frederick Douglass in 2018, what would have been his 200th birthday.

“This group is exceptional in that it is a human link to the history of our county and the community in which Frederick Douglass lived as both an enslaved and a free man. The connection through time, from Frederick Douglass and his family and neighbors, to the men, women, and youth of The FDHS is a living bond across generations.” -Nominator

5. Griots’ Circle of Maryland Inc. Growing Griots’ Literacy Learning Program (Baltimore City) 

Mission: The Growing Griots Literacy Learning Program (GGLLP) is the youth component of the Griots’ Circle of Maryland Inc. (GCM). In 1998, the GCM organized and implemented a youth component known as the Growing Griots. The intent of this group was to develop youth who would share the African oral tradition in the manner of the parent group, GCM. The group then consisted of youth from the families or members of the GCM and the National Association of Black Storytellers, (NABS). This group shared its talents locally, statewide, and nationally.

In 2007, the GCM decided to put more structure around the Growing Griot model to reach out to a larger number of youths in a manner that would influence their education in our public schools. Consequently, the GGLLP was developed for that purpose. The 25-week literacy learning program’s primary objectives are to upgrade skills in reading, writing, public speaking, critical thinking, and the ability to follow directions, all based on the African oral tradition. The program offers Basic Skill Development, Cultural Enrichment, Leadership Development, and 75 Learning Service Hours for students 6th – 11th grade.

“I have watched in awe as this group of volunteers “adopt” all of my kids (even the 6-year-old, as this program is for middle and high schoolers) and held them to rigorous academic standards yet strengthening their ability to comprehend and enjoy reading, writing and telling stories. As a parent, I have even learned from many of the anecdotes shared by these teachers. My heart soars as I watch our kids, emboldened and confident, speak publicly to hundreds of people.” -Nominator

6. J.O.Y. Baltimore (Baltimore City)

Mission: JOY Baltimore (JOY) ​​is a grassroots organization whose primary goal is to end youth homelessness within Baltimore, Maryland. Through our Drop-In Center, we offer homeless, displaced, runaway, and LGBTQ youth ages 13-24, access to emergency and permanent housing, medical and dental services, community services, vital records, and Maryland State ID.

“JOY addresses the lack of adequate, sustainable housing, educational, and workforce opportunities for Baltimore’s youth. Through outreach, education, and resources, JOY’s goal is to break and conquer this never-ending cycle of poverty while teaching youth how to be sustainable within their community and help bring a new economic revival to this area.” – Nominator

7. Known as Monique (Baltimore)

Mission: Known as Monique and KAM First Responders group was created to assist in locating missing and/or trafficked individuals. In accordance with that mission, KAM has hosted awareness campaigns, assisted local organizations that serve trafficked or homeless individuals and youth with fundraising and product donations, and has provided volunteer opportunities to assist homeless and trafficked individuals.

“KAM has shared information on 100’s of missing persons since 2012. Monique created a self-help book called “Strong Talk; The New Norm” for parents to be aware of abduction dangers, but most importantly…It shares how to have ongoing conversations with our youth. Monique has provided volunteer campaigns with approx. 100 volunteers to pack & give away care packets to those in need including Safe House of Hope, Angels of Addiction, & KAV Corp.” -Nominator

8. The Brownsville Project (Frostburg) 

Mission: The Brownsville Project seeks to help communities uncover and flourish from suppressed history and its impact on the present. Examining the past must be restorative and for the betterment of everyone in the community. This means uplifting historically suppressed voices and forgoing punitive measures to achieve tenable healing for the community.  The project presents an interactive theatre experience to explore the story of this community where race, class, gender and family pride meet and continue to thrive. With the support of the community, this interactive theatrical production has been presented in many different communities across Maryland to work towards bringing about healing, truth, and reconciliation.

“Starting the Brownsville Project changed the trajectory of Clory Jackson’s (one of the descendants of Brownsville) life, and now she seeks to give to others what the theatre has given to her – a voice.” -Nominator

9. The Safe Ride Foundation (Frederick)

Mission: The Safe Ride Foundation is Frederick County Maryland’s only 501(c)3 nonprofit organization taking a stance against driving while intoxicated. They seek to implement and propagate programs that will not only provide our public with education on the dangers of intoxicated driving, but also a faithful and reliable alternative to those dangers, and a haven of support for victims as well as the families of victims. Founded in 2015 by Frederick native Wayne Dorsey, The Foundation has been conducting its programs for several years, directly fighting the ever-going drunk driving epidemic in the Frederick area.

“The volunteers are very friendly, and as a past volunteer I love the fact that the program doesn’t just make me feel “bad” about my DUI… but also makes me feel “better” about it because I can use it an opportunity to prevent others from making the same mistake.” -Nominator

10. Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions (St. Mary’s County)

Mission: The Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions organizes programs and events to promote the understanding and the fostering of African American contributions to the history and development of St. Mary’s County. They also advocate for improvements in health, education, and community building for all citizens of St. Mary’s County with volunteers cumulatively giving thousands of hours in service.

“The organization is a unique and sustained successful grassroots effort to recognize and commemorate African American history.”  -Nominator

Learn about last year’s recipients.

In Memoriam, Corneilius Scott
November 1, 1967 – December 20, 2019:

Corneilius Scott, a leader, a visionary, advocate,  and friend set the model of cutting edge response to the violence and pain that plagues Baltimore. He led people with light in his heart and a spirit steeped in compassion. He came to this work when his son was assaulted by a man with a hand gun. Corneilius’s testimony was this. “When I was driving to the hospital, I said, ‘God, if he lives, you have me’.”  

Well, his son lived and Corneilius gave his life over to creating a program to address gun violence.  He became the executive director of the Mothers of Murdered Sons and Daughters Inc., MOMS, in 2016 after realizing the grassroots efforts of MOMS needed to be expanded.  Then expanded that vision to Family Survivor Network (FSN) starting in 2018 after witnessing families crumbling after the death of a loved one.

The office is located in Sandtown Winchester that has one of the highest rates of homicide.  We came to meet dozens of families who have been there for generations,  grew up together, and have families members killed right on the streets where they learned how to ride bikes. Many losing one or two children, and most losing multiple extended family and  friends.  

Corneilius realized that social media was the way to raise awareness and violence prevention. He created weekly live broadcast shows-Faithful Fridays and The Watershed- that captured the attention of hundreds of viewers.  You Tube has  the weekly episodes posted that gave people platforms to share their pain, purpose, and passion. 

Family Survivor Network has a unique model of care.  Believing that when a family suffers the tragedy of a homicide,  all healing modalities need to be offered. Massage, acupuncture, apothecary, art, dance, singing, and music can bring light to the darkest places.  Trauma and strength focused therapy with peer to peer support and fellowship can guide and help to carry a person along their grief journey. 

Corneilius has shined the light and set the path.  It is now up to us to build on that vision and walk shoulder to shoulder with our neighbors.

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