Do you know an extraordinary neighbor or civic activist who has crusaded to make Montgomery County a better, more just community? Is there a civil servant or elected official who has fought the good fight?
If so, nominate him or her for the Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame, a who’s-who of civic trailblazers that includes dozens of the county’s most influential elected officials, civil servants and community activists.
Here are the selection criteria, according to the Montgomery County Office of Human Rights website: “Exemplary leadership, lifetime or current high impact achievements and lasting impact on Montgomery County's human rights movement.”
Nominations are due Sept. 10. To nominate, write a 250- to 300-word narrative describing how the person has been a champion for human and civil rights. Applications must be postmarked by Sept. 10 and sent to:
The Montgomery County Office of Human Rights
21 Maryland Avenue, Suite 330
Rockville, MD 20850
OHR has received a handful of nominations so far. Once approved by a panel of judges, this year’s class will be the seventh inducted to the Hall of Fame. The ceremony is set for Oct. 28 in the lobby of the in Rockville.
The Hall of Fame started in 2001 with a class of 20 honorees that included Roscoe Nix, Charles Gilchrist and Isiah Leggett. The most recent class of inductees, in 2010, added six names to the Hall of Fame:
Esther Ridpath Delaplaine helped lead the fight against Glen Echo Amusement Park’s white-only admission policy and was a driving force behind the county’s 1962 Public Accommodations Law that ended segregation at places that serve the public.
Warren Fleming formed the Damascus Connection Committee, which helps the disenfranchised, elderly, disabled and home-bound.
Dr. Suresh K. Gupta has served patients with or without insurance for more than 25 years, oftentimes at homeless shelters, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
Henry Hailstock is a former head of the Montgomery County branch of the NAACP and an advocate for minority business and employment, workplace diversity, health care and housing.
Msgr. Ralph Kuehner, a priest in residence at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Derwood, helped established the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington, which battles housing discrimination. He also helped develop Victory Housing Inc., which provides affordable assisted-living for senior citizens, as well as the “Metro Pointe” housing project at the Wheaton metro station for young people with paralytic spinal injuries.
Betty Valdes has pushed to help underserved ethnic groups, the homebound, elderly and the incarcerated. She is producer and host of Que Pasa, a bilingual radio and cable TV show that has aired for two decades. She has twice been named among Maryland’s Top 100 Women.