‘Few of the Many' Awards
Photos from the 2023 Awards
View the 2023 Awards Ceremony
The ‘Few of the Many’ Awards is County Executive Steuart Pittman's signature Black History Month event in partnership with the Caucus of African American Leaders. The goal is to recognize African American residents in Anne Arundel County who have made lasting contributions to their communities.
The two honors—The Sojourner Truth Award and The Elijah Cummings Award—were created posthumously to recognize two towering landmark figures whose lives left indelible marks on the struggle for equal justice and humanity.
This year's theme is “Black Resilience,” which calls on residents to reflect on how the African American community continues to find ways to build communities and thrive against insurmountable odds.
How our honorees were selected
Honorees were selected using the following criteria:
- An African American leader
- A resident of Anne Arundel County
- Not a previous award recipient
- An individual who exemplifies this year’s theme
Sojourner Truth Award
Nelsa Brown is the oldest daughter of the late Charles and Charlotte Downs and grew up in the Community of Mill Swamp in Edgewater, Maryland, with her siblings. She graduated from the Mill Swamp/Ralph Bunche Elementary School, the last class of Bates High School and Morgan State University.
Nelsa, as a Certified Lay Minister, has chaired the Bike Blessings and Cheltenham Youth facility visitations for Adams United Methodist Church and serves as a historian and chairperson for the Ralph J. Bunche Grant Committee and also chairs the Ralph J. Bunche Food Pantry. She is also the chaplain for A Tribute to Women of Color.
Nelsa is the proud mother of Nicole Jones and Raoul Graves, grandmother to Andre, Trevor, and Skylor, and great-grandmother to Madison and Brayden.
Shelyia Brown grew up in Pasadena, Maryland, and is a graduate of Northeast High School. In the summer of 2020, Shelyia organized a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest with just four days of planning. The protest took place near Tick Neck Park in Pasadena on June 6. She felt compelled to do something after the death of George Floyd, who was killed by police during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25.
Shelyia plans to continue to educate not only kids but elected officials about what they can do to help the Black community feel safe in suburban areas. And to speak to kids in schools to help them understand why Black lives matter.
Phyllis Currie Spencer, a native Annapolitan, is an advocate within Baltimore County's Office of Housing. She currently manages Project Based Voucher Eligibility and Housing Mobility Counseling, which directly addresses the triumphs and challenges of obtaining affordable, suitable housing.
Phyllis relies on her Economics degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore County to demonstrate that the challenges in obtaining decent, affordable housing is not merely its availability but broader socio-economic issues.
Ms. Currie Spencer and her husband Craig are the proud parents of Terkisha Spencer and Justin Spencer and three amazing grandchildren.
She proudly demonstrates her servant's heart in Anne Arundel County through the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Board, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Delta Pi Omega Chapter, and the concerted efforts to bring awareness and information via the Collective.
The Honorable Erica Griswold, an Annapolis native and former Community Outreach Specialist for the Mayor's Office was elected Register of Wills in November 2022. The role of Register of Wills holds a significant and deeply personal meaning for Ms. Griswold. Who is a historic election, became the first African American to assume the post in its 246-year history. She proudly carries on the legacy of her mother Angela Langston, and grandmother Rosalie Mitchell, who taught her the importance of advocacy and serving for the right reasons. Ms. Griswold honors their legacy, in her role as Register by continuing to coach youth and women throughout the County.
Ms. Griswold has been a fixture in civic affairs for decades. With an extensive background in human services, she is intensely focused on ensuring that all Anne Arundel County residents, particularly families in marginalized communities, have full access to the many resources of the Register of Wills Office.
The Register is hard at work expanding access to the office, using her membership of several grassroots organizations to develop proactive, inclusive, and interactive public engagement strategies to educate the citizenry on the importance of creating, filing, updating wills, and conducting estate planning. Ms. Griswold strongly believes âIf there's a Will, there's a Wayâ and is committed to demystifying the process to help build and protect generational wealth for families in Anne Arundel County, by utilizing the Register position as a potent force for positive change.
Arlene's volunteer work began at a very young age when her mother trained and reared her in a household where helping and giving back were required. As a young woman, she continued volunteering in the local political arena, Washington D.C., with her older brother, a community activist.
She continued volunteering when she moved to Annapolis in 1997 and was invited to join the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee, Inc. Board in 2005. She has been a member for the last 17 years, chairing the Fannie Lou Hamer Awards Banquet and serving as Event Coordinator for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Dinner.
She is also one of the founding members of the Caucus of African American Leaders.
Roslyn D. Johnson-Jones is a Manager of Administrative Services for the Comptroller of Maryland in Annapolis. She started as a temporary employee and became permanent on February 28, 1990. Black History Month!!
In 2005 Roslyn joined the Black History Committee initiated by the Comptroller at that time, William Donald Schaefer. In 2006 Roslyn took over as Chairperson for the Black History Committee. In 2008 Roslyn spun off the Juneteenth Celebrations with the committee's help, and it grew bigger each year, including fashion shows, vendors, entertainers, and speakers in education, history, and the medical field, to name a few. Roslyn worked at the Lighthouse Shelter in Annapolis for just short of 10 years, where she was a Senior Resident Assistant. While working there, she frequently volunteered to cook lunch and dinner for the residents. She is the youngest of seven siblings, a proud wife, and a loving mother of two sons, four grandchildren, and nine Godchildren.
Priscilla Monroe is a native of North Carolina and feels blessed to have two parents that have been married for 54 years. She has two daughters, ages 14 and 16. Priscilla has lived in Odenton, Maryland, since 1992 and works at Kingdom Child Kare.
Priscilla is the CEO of Soul Check Ministry and Luxx Travel, the author of two books, a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Notary, and a Certified Wellness and Health Coach. She attends Kingdom Celebration Center with her wonderful pastors, Apostle Antonio Palmer and Dr. Barbara Palmer. Priscilla was also recently elected to the Democratic Central Committee, District 33. Further, as a member of the Statewide Equity Group, she became instrumental in helping to administer the newly created Emmett Till Alert System, which was designed and launched to alert Black Leaders of racist or hate crime incidents.
Congressman Elijah Cummings Award
Reverend Jones has been involved with the education and practice of law for nearly 40 years. He has served as a Continuing Legal Education Panelist and Organizer at ten different Bar Conferences and has written eight legal articles published nationwide. His law practice is multi-state and exclusive, principally focusing on handling all legal affairs of church people and their businesses.
In November 2022, Reverend Jones was unanimously elected as the New President of the NAACP for Anne Arundel County. He is also an honorary member of the Top 100 Black Lawyers in America, the Chair of the Law & Religion Section of the National Bar Association, the Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee for the NAACP (AAC), one of the few attorneys in America who has been successful before the United States Supreme Court in getting all lower courts in a state reversed, Pastor of a Baptist Church in Columbia, Maryland, for over twenty (20) years, and the author of two books on the Bible.
Reverend Jones' prayers were answered when he married Mrs. Katherine Darlene Jones, who he has been married to for over 36 years. They have one son who graduated from the University of Maryland in College Park with a degree in Animal Science, and he presently works with NIH in his field of study.
C. Pierre Parker is a lifelong Annapolitain and resident of Anne Arundel County. His mission is to help and ascend himself and others to a healthy lifestyle by elevating the mind, body, and spirit through health and wellness training as a certified personal trainer, licensed massage therapist, photographer, positronic musician, and songwriter spreading positivity through music. C. Pierre Parker is a published author of Dreaming Lean and a trained motivational speaker through Les Brown's Speaker's Bureau.
Mr. Parker's life work is inspired by his daughter Tiyana Parker, grandson Parker Neblett, his love for his late wife Tamela Parker, and a host of family members and friends.
Eugene is the Chair of the Anne Arundel County Human Relations Commission and Chair of the Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast Committee.
Eugene served two consecutive terms on the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. During his tenure on the Board, Eugene helped develop and implement the Workforce Diversity and Minority and Small Business Enterprise policies.
Keanuú Smith-Brown (KSB) is the eldest of six siblings and a first-generation college graduate. He was born in Annapolis, Maryland, and raised by his mother, Tameka Smith. Keanuú served as president of the District 30 Democratic Club from 2020-2021 and, from 2019-2021, served on the board of directors; in 2021, he became a candidate for Alderman of Ward 3 in Annapolis, having been involved in politics since working on Zina Pierre's mayoral campaign at the age of 13. He is chair of the Annapolis Board of Supervisors of Elections and vice president of Superior Future, Incorporated, a local nonprofit. A former substitute teacher at Georgetown East Elementary School, Keanuú now serves as a fourth-grade teacher at Walter S. Mills-Parole Elementary School.
Demontae is the youngest of 3 siblings and is a Maryland native, a resident of the Freetown Village community, and a graduate of Glen Burnie High School. As a leader in the community, Demontae works as the Club Director and Youth Development Professional at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County at Freetown Village. He aspires to always do his best in everything he does and strives daily to impact the community positively.
Some of his community impacts include coordinating a graduation parade for 18 students during the pandemic where their achievements and hard work were celebrated and honored with academic citations from the NAACP. Demontae also encouraged youth and teens to speak out and get involved in the "Unity in the Community, Peace March" and has put together a host of community food drives to support the community with healthy meals and essentials in their time of need.
Demontae accolades include being the recipient of the Chapter Brother of the Year from Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., where he served as Chapter President for two years. He is also a recent graduate from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), earning his bachelor's degree in Africana Studies (African American Studies).
Everett Sesker is a proud son of Anne Arundel County. In 1990, Everett joined the Prince George's County Police Department and served for 22 years. As a decorated law enforcement officer, he has served in various leadership capacities, most notably as the Commander of the Training and Education Division, supervising the education and training of new officers. After serving the citizens of Prince George's County and retiring as a Major in 2012, Everett has been a trailblazer on issues that matter most to citizens: accountability and integrity in law enforcement. He was appointed as the Executive Director of the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission in 2017. Everett has since moved back home to Anne Arundel County, where he was recently elected as the county's first African American Sheriff. Everett is ready to make a difference in the community that has nurtured and protected him since 1967.
Judge Spencer was appointed as an associate judge to the District Court in Anne Arundel County in September 2008 by then-Governor Martin O'Malley. He currently serves as a member of the Equal Justice Committee of the Judicial Council. Judge Spencer also founded and currently presides over Truancy Court in Anne Arundel County. Before his appointment to the bench, Judge Spencer served as an assistant state's attorney for Prince George's County from 1998 to 2002. He also served as a city attorney for the City of Annapolis from 2003 to 2008.