The main sanctuary of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden appeared like a living almanac of Prince George’s County politics — filled with lawmakers and politicians who came out to pay their final respects to former Sen. Tommie Broadwater.
More than 1,000 people came out to the service at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden and in the pews were politicians spanning generations.
“He was the one who made the way for all of the Black Senators from Prince George’s County,” said Maryland state Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-District 26). “He was able to come up in a system that was not always kind to people of color. He was the godfather of politics and we all loved him.”
The death of Broadwater, the first Black senator elected in Prince George’s County, sparked a multigenerational celebration. As “The Godfather of Prince George’s,” his life has received universal praise for the great political advancements he fought for decades.
“Tommie was here for Black people in Prince George’s County when that’s all we had,” said former Maryland State Delegate and Prince George’s County Council member Jolene Ivey.
The day before his funeral, the former Glenarden City Councilman laid in state in the lobby of the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro, not far from his legendary estate.
In an interview with The Informer, Judge Alexander Williams, the first Black state’s attorney elected in Prince George’s, gave praise to Broadwater while he was lying in state.
“Tommie was an excellent community leader, a trailblazer, everyone admired him and we are all honoring him today,” he said at the County Administration Building.
‘A Better People Because Tommie Broadwater Came Our Way’
In interviews with a number of people, many talked about his love for people from all walks of life. At the funeral, his legacy was evident, as the foyer of the church was filled with a diverse array of individuals, just as his constituent offices and businesses were in past decades.
In a video shown prior to the service, Broadwater talked about how important direct advocacy has been in achieving his goals.
“We’ve had a relationship with all the governors,” he said in the video, dressed immaculately in a business suit (Broadwater was also celebrated for his style). “We were taken upstairs to talk. That’s been so important for Bowie, for Morgan, and our HBCUs.”
Elder Bobby Henry of City of Praise Ministries began the service by reading Psalm 23 and the Rev. Henry P. Davis offered the opening prayer.
“God, we thank you for this gift of life. Thank you for loaning us Tommie Broadwater,” said the First Baptist Church of Highland Park pastor during the opening prayer. “We are a better people because Tommie Broadwater came our way. We don’t mourn his death, but we celebrate his life.”
Some of the condolence letters that came in were from Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D), U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Maryland), U.S. Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-Maryland) and Maryland Governor Wes Moore (D).
“As a young man going through the civil rights era, Tommie Broadwater took the baton forward,” said Congressman Mfume, who formerly led the NAACP. “I was honored to be with my friend one last time at a tribute. As always, he looked great.”
Congressman Ivey said the senator’s life “was filled with tremendous experiences, love and compassion that touched the lives of countless individuals,” in a statement read at the funeral.
“His political counsel was valued by numerous politicians, including me, and he provided wise advice to future leaders,” Rep. Ivey continued. “His compassion will never be forgotten, and his legacy will touch future generations. May he rest in power.”
The Maryland General Assembly sent a memorial and a proclamation was made by the Town of Fairmount Heights.
Former Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson likened Broadwater to one of the most celebrated athletes of all time.
”He was the Muhammad Ali of Prince George’s County politics,” Johnson told The Informer. “He was a fighter for the people. He loved the people, he worked for them and he made a difference for so many.”
At-Large Prince George’s County Councilman Calvin Hawkins called him the Marion Barry of Prince George’s County. With the familial ties of Prince George’s and D.C., and Barry affectionately referred to as the District’s “Mayor for life,” Hawkins’ comment resonated as the highest of praises that can be bestowed on a community servant.
Delegate Nicole Williams (D-District 22) acknowledged Broadwater’s role as a barrier maker who informed her political journey.
“I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today had it not been for what he did for our county and our community,” Del. Williams said as she was leaving the service.
Alsobrooks, who is running for a Senate seat, also weighed in on Broadwater’s legacy.
“It says a lot that Senator Broadwater was so beloved by his community,” the current County Executive said. “He was a mentor and a friend to so many of us. He was also a barometer. He gave us the truth about what was going on and needed in the community.”
The printed program can be viewed at fbcglenarden.org/funeralprogram.