Prince George’s County now has a think tank focusing on law, media, policy and the historic preservation of those tasked with the mission of informing and organizing communities.

Karen Williams Gooden, a local lawyer who heads the Gooden Center for Law, Media, Policy and Historic Preservation, held a virtual launch party Saturday that united a panel of experts for upcoming events planned for the metropolitan area.

“The mission of the organization is educate, lift and inform our communities through symposiums and conferences,” said Gooden, adding that “the top issue is COVID-19.”

Karen Williams Gooden (Courtesy photo)

Gooden said her goal is to show, in a tangible way, what has been said about Prince George’s County being the most affluent African American jurisdiction in the country.

“If we are what [W.E.B.] Du Bois said about that ‘Talented Tenth,’ then let’s show it,” she said. “It’s important to march, but we want to identify strategies for our community to support and augment the work of our elected officials.”

Vernon Gray, former head of the political science department at Morgan State University, is also part of the think tank that will be named after former Maryland Sen. Gloria Lawlah.

Gray said such a center is needed now more than ever.

“The center will delve into issues that are pertinent to the Black community such as police reform, the wealth gap that exists, health care, we want to research and bring solutions to our policymakers,” Gray said.

Gooden began the program Saturday with the late Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” describing the song as “a message of hope.”

Dr. Edwin C. Chapman Sr. and his wife Ann, a registered nurse, will also be part of the think tank. They run a medical clinic in southeast D.C., where they were busy Friday giving flu shots.

Edwin and Ann Chapman (Courtesy photo)

“We have a combination of things and an inordinate amount of racism and it is dividing the country, which is adding stress to everybody, ” Chapman said.

The doctor said the best way to decrease stress is to “stay connected to positive people.”

“It could be your pastor, friends or loved one, but it’s really important to keep people’s minds off negative things,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ann Chapman has volunteered to work with her husband during the flu season to avoid what she calls the “double whammy,” for getting the flu and COVID-19.

“I always stress getting a flu shot every year,” she said.

Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the...

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