At this year’s Kennedy-King Dinner, hosted at Bowie’s Party HQ on Sept. 9, the Prince George’s County Young Democrats (PGCYD) filled up the Exhale Lounge with a sizable group of candidates and staffers to present awards for community service and prepare for the year’s remaining activities.
The event also featured appearances from competing candidates. Congressman David Trone (D), Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando (D) and County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) all attended to compete for supporters in the race for Sen. Ben Cardin’s soon-to-be vacant Senate seat.
Trone’s speech centered on his life story starting in Western Maryland, while Jawando spoke about his progressive stances, and County Executive Alsobrooks acknowledged the historic nature of her candidacy and the past support shown for her by Prince Georgians.
Councilman Jawando, PG Changemakers Deputy Executive Director Janna Parker, CASA organizer Jorge Benitez-Perez, District Heights Commissioner Anthony Tilghman, County Executive Alsobrooks, Delegate Nick Charles and Prince Ham of Making a Difference were also given awards by PGCYD for their work in improving the community.
“I stopped by tonight to tell you something different: while you are the future, you are desperately needed now,” Alsobrooks said to begin her speech. “We saw our heroes like John Lewis and John Kennedy, who were young. Lewis fought for the rest of his life. You are so important to us today and thank you for your dedication and commitment to this fight.”
She received particularly strong applause when referring to the several schools recently built under her administration and reflected on the fact that Maryland has had no women in the congressional delegation for nearly a decade.
Central Committee Chairman Antwan Brown noted he was a proud Prince Georgian when opening the ceremony.
“I am honored and proud to serve,” Brown said. “Civics is what I love.”
Being at the event brought back memories for Maryland Democratic Party Chair Yvette Lewis.
“I was a teacher, I’m a mentor to those who run for office, and I have been deeply involved with the Young Democrats. Being invited to this brought me back to my first term as chair,” said Lewis. “One of the first calls I made when I was reelected as chair was to [the late] Joseph Kitchen.” Kitchen was the longtime chair of the Young Democrats of Maryland and the Prince George’s County Young Democrats before his passing.
“I think this event takes us back to our grassroots efforts where we have open and transparent dialogue so the people are inspired and wish to turn out in the democratic process,”said Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee Second Vice Chair Sylvia Johnson.
When asked why he chose to attend the dinner, Trone said he is excited to see young people involved in politics.
“It’s fantastic to have young people interested in politics. We must continue to put people over politics. That’s something the Young Democrats understand,” said Trone. “People are hurting because of addiction, and because of the racist impact of the criminal justice system.”
Honoree Anthony Tilghman is a photographer with The Washington Informer.