ANNAPOLIS — In just her second public appearance since leaving office in January, former Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) was inducted this month into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame.
Near the end of her nearly five-minute speech, Edwards, clad in a charcoal gray dress suit, told the more than 200 people in attendance at the Miller Senate Building in Annapolis what makes her strong and how that incorporates into public service.
“I am a black woman — I cannot separate myself from my blackness, or from my womanhood,” she said. “They inform the way I see the world that is often absent from public policy and from leadership as part of the American mix that we deserve in our representation.”
Edwards, 58, of Oxon Hill, joined seven other women who will be enshrined at the Maryland Women Heritage Center in Baltimore for their contribution to state’s economic, cultural and political landscape.
The other women inducted during the Thursday, March 16 ceremony are:
• Marsha Coleman-Adebayo from Montgomery County, author of Pulitzer Prize nominated book, “No Fear: A Whistleblowers Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA”;
• Carolyn W. Colvin from Anne Arundel County, former acting commissioner of the U.S. Social Security Administration;
• The late Mary Elizbeth Garrett, a suffragist and activist from Baltimore;
• The late Katharine Blodgett Gebbie, an astrophysicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) where scientists won four Nobel prizes in physics;
• 2016 Olympic gold medalist and swimmer Katie Ledecky from Montgomery County;
• 2016 Olympic gold medalist and wrestler Helen Maroulis from Montgomery County; and
• The late Lilian Welsh, a physician educator and suffragist from Baltimore.
Edwards was the lone person from Prince George’s County in this year’s selection, organized by the Maryland Commission for Women and the Women Legislators of Maryland.
She became the first black woman from Maryland elected to Congress and represented the 4th Congressional District since 2008 until her term expired Jan. 2.
During her time in Congress, Edwards became known as a staunch progressive and champion of women’s rights, as well as a college and career fair she hosted for eight straight years.
Edwards had sought to become the first black woman in the Senate in more than 20 years, but lost a fierce battle in last year’s Democratic Senate primary to former House colleague Chris Van Hollen, who eventually won the seat.
Edwards postponed her cross-country trip inside her RV, which she plans to complete next month, to attend the Hall of Fame ceremonies back in her home state, joined by her mother and three sisters. Edwards said her son got stuck in traffic coming from Dupont Circle in Northwest and missed her speech.
Although other supporters had previous engagements, they still wanted to see and hear from a woman they say symbolize the best of Prince George’s County.
Former state Delegate Aisha Braveboy of Mitchellville saw Edwards when she first came back home to participate in the Women’s March on Washington in January.
“When she ran against [Van Hollen], she wasn’t part of the good ol’ boy network [or] even the ol’ girl system — she is just a woman who is committed to her community,” said Braveboy, who works as a government affairs liaison for the Children National Health System in Northwest. “I was proud to her constituent.”
Edwards even had supporters outside her former legislative district.
Delegate Elizabeth “Susie” Proctor (D-District 27A) lives in the neighboring 5th Congressional district represented by longtime Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland).
“The honorable Donna Edwards has done so much for women and children and people in general in the state,” said Proctor, who was appointed more than a year ago to replace her late husband, James E. Proctor Jr., to represent portions of Charles and Prince George’s counties. “Donna is awesome. She’s not done yet.”