HCC to host Martin Luther King Jr. event

January 13, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Hagerstown Community College will honor two local heroes from the city's black community Monday.

The school's third annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration will pay tribute to local child advocate Ruth Monroe and Bill Mason, Washington County's first black deputy.

Monroe, 64, and Mason, 76, died last year.

The celebration also will pay tribute to the late Rosa Parks, the woman who ignited the civil rights movement when she refused to relinquish her bus seat to a white person in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955.

Parks died Oct. 24.

HCC spokeswoman Beth Stull said it was the first time the college has paid tribute to someone other than King during the ceremony. The Rev. George Nathan Bell, of Mount Moriah Church in Chambersburg, Pa., will present the tribute.


"I think it's particularly significant because it puts a local face on this issue," Stull said. "They can look at Ruth Monroe and Bill Mason and see firsthand how they made a difference."

Monroe, a Hagerstown resident, was a mentor, mother and motivator to many during her tenure as the Memorial Recreation Center's director.

Hagerstown City Councilwoman Alesia Parson-McBean, believed to be the first black elected in Hagerstown, said Monroe was the reason she ran for city council.

Mason was the county's only black deputy in the 1960s, a time marked by racial tension. Loved ones described him as a "go-getter."

The city's largest Martin Luther King Jr. celebration attracted about 300 people last year. Program mainstays include a recitation of King's "I Have a Dream" speech and diversity workshops for students and adults.

There also will be a modern dance performance by Tiffany Ryan and a song performed by Florence Darlene Kee-Cooper.

The event is sponsored by Hagerstown Community College and The Herald Mail Co.

If you go

What: Martin Luther King Jr. celebration

When: Monday, 10 a.m.

Where: Athletic, Recreation and Community Center at Hagerstown Community College

Free admission. For information, call 301-790-2800, ext. 265.

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