Cardin, Van Hollen, and Brown Effort to Name Wayne K. Curry Post Office Building in Largo Heads to President’s Desk
WASHINGTON (Nov. 16, 2018)—U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Anthony G. Brown praised Senate-passage late Thursday of H.R. 4890 that designates the United Postal Service Largo Post Office at 9801 Apollo Drive in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, as the “Wayne K. Curry Post Office Building.” Wayne Curry was Prince George’s County’s first African-American County Executive and a true public servant who brought economic empowerment to the county. He passed away in 2014, at the age of 63, after a battle with lung cancer.
The House bill, sponsored by Congressman Brown, was approved by the House of Representatives this summer, meaning the legislation now passed by the full Congress will go to President Trump to be signed into law.
“Wayne Curry was a friend, as well as a public servant and a tremendous leader who inspired young people to serve their community and their nation,” said Senator Cardin, who sponsored the Senate companion bill (S. 2725) to Congressman Brown’s legislation. “This honor is a lasting and fitting memorial to Wayne in the heart of Prince George’s County that he loved.”
“Wayne Curry was a tireless champion for Prince George’s County and the people of Maryland—he was also a friend. From tackling poverty, to strengthening our schools, to fighting for our kids, Wayne never backed away from a fight if it meant helping the people he represented. This building will stand as a tribute to his great leadership and legacy,” said Senator Van Hollen, who co-sponsored the Senate bill.
“Wayne Curry never sought to make history, but he broke barriers throughout his remarkable life of service; he worked tirelessly to uplift the community around him and to better the lives of the people of Prince George’s County,” said Congressman Brown. “Naming this building in his honor—in the heart of the County he cared so deeply about—will be a daily reminder of the lasting vision, contribution and legacy of Wayne K. Curry. I’m proud Congress came together to pay him tribute with this designation.”
Wayne K. Curry was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1951, but grew up in Cheverly, Maryland. He and his brother were among the first African-American students to integrate, and graduate from, Bladensburg High School. After finishing his undergraduate degree at Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College, Mr. Curry worked as a teacher and director of a Prince George’s County daycare center. His public service began in earnest with various positions in the administration of Prince George’s County Executive Winfield Kelly, Jr. beginning in 1975. While working during the day, Mr. Curry attended law school in the evening and graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law, with honors, in 1980. Even though he went on to become a partner at a law firm, and later ran his own legal practice, public service continued to be a constant part of his professional life. He served as Chairman of the United Way Campaign of Prince George’s County, President of the Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the School Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Black Male Achievement, Chairman of the Prince George’s County Substance Abuse Advisory Board, and as a member of the Boards of Directors of the Prince George’s County “Christmas in April,” United Communities Against Poverty, and the Bonnie Johns Children’s Fund.
In 1994, Mr. Curry became the first African-American County Executive in Prince George’s County history. He brought a renewed vitality to the office and focused his administration on the economic empowerment of his constituents—where he saw the county go from a deficit of $108 million to enjoying a $120 million surplus. Mr. Curry presided over a period of unprecedented population growth, development and modernization as the County transformed from a rural, white majority, to the national standard of African-American success. He served two terms from December 1994 to December 2, 2002.
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Lessons in Servant Leadership
“The way through chaos, calamity, and confusion is not by adding chaos, calamity, and confusion. That multiplies what’s hurting us and undermining us. The Hebrew and Christian Bibles insist from the first chapter to the last chapter you cannot overcome evil with evil, you have to overcome evil with good. Depart from evil, do not be overcome by evil. An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. A tooth for a tooth means that therefore soon everyone is toothless. You cannot bind up the wounds of people in our land by pouring sand into the wounds.”
“You cannot change wrong with wrong.”
—Reverend James Lawson, speaking at the Children’s Defense Fund
This past week the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) was blessed with a visit from one of the greatest nonviolence practitioners in our nation and world, Rev. James Lawson. He shared lessons in leadership with CDF staff from our greatest American prophet, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who called Rev. Lawson “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.” In some of the recent elections Americans once again reaffirmed their desperate hope for positive, principled leadership in times of chaos, calamity, and confusion. Rev. Lawson has long been an example of exactly this kind of leadership.
Rev. Lawson has been for me and countless others a peerless teacher, role model, and leader of nonviolent direct action. He guided Dr. King and thousands of young leaders of all races and ages seeking racial and economic justice. He is our living embodiment of effective social change and exemplifies and taught us Christ’s and Gandhi’s nonviolent values and strategies to combat our nation’s recurring birth defects of slavery, Native American genocide, exclusion of women and non-propertied White men from our political and economic processes. And for 90 years he has been a singular and unwavering voice calling across generations for a nation and world where every child of God is welcomed, respected and empowered to realize their God-given potential.
Rev. Lawson is the son and grandson of Methodist ministers and received his own ministry license during his senior year of high school. He was educated at Ohio’s Baldwin-Wallace College, Oberlin College and Vanderbilt Divinity School, but he was also schooled by the 13 months he served in federal prison after being arrested for refusing to enter the military when drafted—or in his words, refusing to “put on somebody’s military uniform for the purpose of using arms against other human beings.” It was in prison that he reread the writings of Gandhi and theologian Howard Thurman. Afterwards he spent three years as a Methodist missionary in India, where he first read about Dr. King and the Montgomery Bus Boycott—a milestone in the movement brewing at home in the United States that he would help lead.
Rev. Lawson and Dr. King met in person in 1957 after Rev. Lawson returned to the U.S. and was studying at Oberlin’s Graduate School of Theology. Dr. King urged him to come south to join the Civil Rights Movement, arguing that there was no other clergyperson with his experience and knowledge of nonviolence. Rev. Lawson replied that he had been thinking about it and would come as soon as his studies were complete, but Dr. King convinced him to come immediately. In January of 1958 Rev. Lawson moved to Nashville to nurture, challenge and prepare the students of the Nashville movement, producing some of the great leaders of the national Civil Rights Movement including Congressman John Lewis. Rev. Lawson served as Director of Nonviolent Education for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Rep. John Lewis later wrote: “Jim Lawson knew…that we were being trained for a war unlike any this nation had seen up to that time, a nonviolent struggle that would force this country to face its conscience. Lawson was arming us, preparing us, planting in us a sense of rightness and righteousness.”
He has never stopped doing that and our nation has never stopped needing him and benefiting from his unwavering nonviolent moral voice. Rev. Lawson continues to mentor and prepare communities for nonviolent struggle and direct action organizing. Movements start from the bottom up not from the top down and as Rev. Lawson said at CDF this week, “There is no substitute for the community struggle.” He has been part of the movements for racial justice, reproductive choice, a living wage, the rights of hotel and other service industry workers, undocumented immigrants and those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. He has worked across our nation with students, including the Dreamers who pushed for the DREAM Act to grant legal status to immigrant children. And he is a role model for me and generations of younger servant leaders as he continues to teach and preach and inspire at CDF’s Haley Farm, our training ground for servant leaders.
At another CDF meeting Rev. Lawson quoted this old beloved prayer: “Grant by Thy grace that we may not be found wanting in the hour of crisis when the battle is set. May we know on which side we ought to be. And when the day goes hard and cowards steal from the field and heroes fall around the standard, may our place be found where the fight is fiercest. If we faint, may we not be faithless. If we falter, may we not fall. And when we fall, may it be while loving you and our neighbors and facing the foes.” It remains a benediction for our times and for his remarkable life. I am so grateful for Jim Lawson’s example, stamina, extraordinary intellect and generosity of spirit to so many and am so glad to have him as friend, mentor and teacher. He has been God’s unwavering messenger of hope and justice for all of God’s children.
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Prince Georgians: “Get Covered Now”
November kicks off open enrollment period for health insurance under Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Largo, MD (Nov 8, 2018)—November kicks off the open enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III, urges all uninsured and underinsured residents who are 18 to 64 sign-up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The open enrollment period ends on December 15, 2018. To apply, visitwww.pgchealthconnect.org or call 301-927-4500.
“Prince George’s County continues to make great strides in enrolling residents in health insurance,” said County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “From the time the Affordable Care Act began, we have reduced the number of uninsured residents from 15% to 9%. It is vitally important for every single person who is eligible to get covered and stay covered. Now is the time.”
Prince George’s County Health Connect, a program of the Department of Social Services, is recognized as one of the strongest in Maryland. Since 2013, the comprehensive program has partnered with government agencies, non-profit healthcare and community-based organizations, academic institutions, hospitals, clinics, and faith-based institutions resulting in the following:
• Increases in the number of insured Prince George’s County residents. More than 240,000 have enrolled in Medicaid and the Maryland Children’s Health Program (MCHP), an increase of 33% since the Affordable Care Act implementation began. An additional 22,400 residents are enrolled into Qualified Health Plans (QHPs), the private coverage that provides subsidies for most families.
• Increases in Health Connect enrollment assistance requests. More than 100,000 Prince George’s County residents have been provided in-person Health Connect enrollment assistance.
• Increases in insurance coverage resulting in a decrease in the number of people who delay needed health care due to cost.
• Increases in insurance coverage provides greater financial stability to families; and realizes significant savings in uncompensated hospital care.
•Increases in growth and enrollment reduced long-standing inequities regarding access to affordable health coverage: African-American, Hispanic or Latino, and Asian-American residents had the largest gains in coverage.
While the federal government has eliminated the 2019 tax penalty for being without health coverage, it is important that residents get and maintain their coverage to reach their optimum level of health. All residents of Prince George’s County are encouraged to find out if they are eligible to achieve savings on their coverage. In person assistance is available in several locations across the County. To learn more visit www.pgchealthconnect.org or call 301-927-4500.
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