ROCKVILLE—The Montgomery County Council met for the first time on Sept. 10 after their month-long recess in August.
During the short meeting, the council heard presentations recognizing the 400th anniversary of the start of slavery in the United States and the 10th year of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League’s (CRCBL) Feed the Hungry Challenge.
At the beginning of each meeting, the county council will often honor individuals, residents and groups they feel are worthy of recognition, according to the council.
Councilmember Will Jawando took the lead in recognizing the anniversary of the start of slavery in the United States in 1619.
He noted that 400 years ago, the first recorded slave ship docked in Port Comfort, in what is present-day Hampton, Virginia.
“Some 20 and odd Negros, as they were referred to in the manifest, arrived on the shores and formally began the documented history of over 12.5 million Africans brought to this country and to South America and the Caribbean in a brutal form of chattel slavery that required, to be successful, the dehumanization of black people because of their skin,” Jawando said in his opening remarks. “It set in motion the three-and- half-century journey that for some worked really well. It built this nation, it built nations in South America and the West Indies, it made America the most-profitable country in the world but built on the backs of a stolen people who were brutalized.”
He noted the importance of recognizing the strife of those who were forced into slavery and that although 1619 was the first year slave ships were officially recognized, there had been slaves and slave masters in this country long before.
“Commemoration is not a celebration,” he said. “It’s a marking of an important moment in history that means so much to so many, both now and for our future.”
Jawando explained that prior to the county council meeting, Black leaders from the faith community and citizens’ organizations met with the councilmembers to discuss and commemorate slavery in America.
He went on to explain that Maryland has its own dark history involving slavery.
“It’s important to note that there were 760 families here in Montgomery County in 1860 that owned slaves, concentrated in the northwestern part (of the state), but also in places like Germantown. It’s important to note that two of the three individuals who were lynched were dragged out of this building, the former courthouse. We’ll be recognizing that as we move forward with the reconciliation commission.”
The council also dedicated a proclamation to the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League’s Feed the Hungry Challenge. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the challenge.
The Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League brings college-level baseball players to the Baltimore-Washington Metro region to play wooden bat baseball. Players come from all over the country to participate in the summer league.
Each team competes against the others in the league to collect the greatest amount of food. Players go to Giant grocery stores and drum up donations from patrons.
Giant also partners with Manna Food Center for other food drives throughout the year, according to Stephanie Hubbard, Manna’s director of development and communications. She said that Giant is one of Manna’s largest food donors.
Hubbard explained that hunger in Montgomery County is not a highly visible issue, given the area’s wealth.
“The face of hunger in Montgomery County is hidden within our community; a lot of people note that we’re such a prosperous region, but about 63,000 of our neighbors don’t always know where their next meal is going to come from, including a third of our kids in school,” Hubbard said.
She said that the Hunger Challenge is a fun food drive for Manna because donations during the summer tend to dwindle as people go out of town or are not in their normal routines.
“It’s really a way for us to engage with the community in a fun way,” she said.
The Gaithersburg Giants won the challenge for the second year in a row, with over 2,000 pounds of food collected, Hubbard said.
She went on to announce that Manna has created a free marketplace, which opened for a soft launch. The marketplace allows residents to choose what kinds of foods they want to bring home as opposed to receiving a food box.
“(This provides) more opportunity for people to choose their food,” Hubbard said.
Now that the county council is back from recess, they will meet regularly, every Tuesday.