Montgomery County’s 24th Juneteenth Celebration themed “Freedom at the Rock . . . Acknowledge, Educate, Celebrate,” will be held at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 19. During the event, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich will host the African American Living Legend Awards at 5 p.m. to honor distinguished individuals who have helped shape the cultural heritage of the African American community.
The five individuals who will receive 2021 Annual African American Living Legend Awards have dedicated their lives to service, advocacy and selfless acts of kindness to their community.
Award recipients include:
- Dr. Elwood Rafael Gray—Pastor, instructor, author and consultant, Dr. Gray is the founder and president of the National Coalition of Prison Ministries that was established in 1985. Dr. Gray is also the pastor of Peace in the Valley Baptist Church and is a member of the alumni at Howard University School of Divinity, where he is an instructor in the Continuing Education Department. Also was the editor of “The Messenger,” a newsletter published by the National Coalition of Prison Ministries. Each year, Dr. Gray conducts study tours and seminars at jails and detention facilities and prisons across America, providing fresh insight. An active member of the community, Dr. Gray has teamed up with the African American Health Program and others to make significant differences in the lives of those impacted by the present-day Pandemic.
- Reverend Dr. Sterling King Jr.—A community activist, faith leader and global citizen, Reverend Dr. King Jr. has made a significant impact in the community. Reverend King attended the Howard University School of Divinity. After 34 years of service, he retired from Howard in 2010 as a tenured associate professor in the School of Business and as chair of the Department of Management. For 28 years, Reverend King served as pastor of the Macedonia Baptist Church in Bethesda, the last remnant of the once-vibrant River Road African American community. Reverend King served on various boards and committees throughout the County, including serving as past president of the Black Ministers’ Conference of Montgomery County, where he also was a member of the Education Committee.
- Willie Pearl Mackey King—A major contributor to our nation’s history, she worked for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference under the leadership of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from 1962-66 as a member of his executive staff. While in Birmingham with Dr. King during the Direct Action Protest Movement, Ms. King transcribed and typed the famous Birmingham Jail Letter. Ms. King later worked as a contractor for the U.S. Office of Compliance for Capitol Hill, retiring in 2004. She retired from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1997 after serving 32 years. Additionally, she is a member of the Montgomery Hills Baptist Church in Silver Spring, She is a member of the Board of Deacons and is a teacher with the AGAPE Sunday School Class.
- John H. Macklin—The founder of JHM Research & Development, Inc. in 1981, he served as president and CEO for more than 30 years. JHM provided information technology services to Federal, State and local governments, private industry, nonprofit agencies and public organizations. Mr. Macklin has served on the boards of directors of the Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County, Leadership Montgomery, the People’s Community Church and the People’s Chamber of Commerce. He works closely with Aunt Hattie’s Place, which improves the quality of life for foster children. Mr/ Macklin has made significant contributions to the Universities at Shady Grove, home of the John & Effie Macklin Center for Academic Success, and to the Music Center at Strathmore.
- Dr. Hercules Pinkney—An experienced administrator with a demonstrated history of working in higher education institutions, Dr. Pinkney has been the board chair and a member of board of directors of the Holy Cross Health regional health care system. Dr. Pinkney previously served as chief executive officer of Montgomery College and in 2015 the college renamed the business park on its Germantown campus the “Hercules Pinkney Life Sciences Park.” Dr. Pinkney also serves as a volunteer and coordinator of local church volunteers at the “Let’s Pray” weekly program series on Hope TV.