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For Immediate Release: Monday, June 10, 2024

Montgomery County will present “Living Legend Awards” to six African American community leaders at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 14, at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown.

County Executive Marc Elrich will host the awards ceremony, part of the County’s 27th Annual Juneteenth celebration, which this year has a theme of “Celebrating Freedom at the Rock: Forever Unshackled.”

The 2024 award recipients are being honored for their lifelong dedication to service, advocacy and selfless acts of kindness. The public is invited to the award ceremony.  The event is free to attend.

The honorees are Dr. Judith Docca, Edgar Dove, Janice Freeman, Roy Priest, Charles Thomas, Jr., and Henry Williams, Sr.

The Juneteenth celebration, which includes various cultural and community events, continues from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 15, also at the BlackRock Center, which is located at 12901 Town Commons Drive in Germantown.

“Each of the six honorees has made service and advocacy an integral part of their lives, enriching and preserving the cultural heritage of the African American Community in Montgomery County,” said County Executive Elrich. “Their contributions have profoundly benefited our community, leaving an indelible mark on our shared history and future.”

Details about the award recipients:

  • Dr. Judith Docca. She has dedicated her career to advocating for education and civil rights, spending 38 years with Montgomery County Public Schools in roles ranging from teacher to principal. Elected to four terms on the Montgomery County Board of Education, she chaired the communications and public engagement committee and served on the special populations committee. Dr. Docca has been active in the Montgomery County NAACP, the Lincoln Park Historical Foundation and numerous educational associations. She was pivotal in saving Montgomery County's Head Start program and has been inducted into the County Human and Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Recently, she was appointed to the Montgomery College Board of Trustees by Maryland Governor Wes Moore.


  • Edgar E. Dove, Sr. Born in 1935 in the Scotland Community of Potomac, he has spent his life preserving and advocating for his birthplace. His leadership in the "Save Our Scotland" campaign in the 1960s was crucial in protecting the community from eradication. Beyond activism, he was a celebrated third baseman for the Scotland Eagles, embodying resilience and camaraderie. As a Montgomery County Public School bus driver for over four decades, his dedication to safety and well-being endeared him to the community.


  • Janice Freeman. Deeply involved in civil rights, business, housing and community nonprofits, she has worked at the local, State and Federal levels. Growing up in a segregated community in Greensboro, N.C., she participated in pivotal civil rights protests, including the Woolworth sit-ins. In Maryland, she worked with the Black-owned OAO Corporation and co-founded a successful computer engineering company. As a minority business leader, she founded JM Freeman Enterprise, a real estate brokerage, and co-founded Montgomery County’s first African American Chamber of Commerce. She is a recent inductee to the Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame.  She is a current member of the Montgomery County Human Rights Commission, has served on numerous boards and remains an active community advocate.
  • Roy Priest. The chair of the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County, he has dedicated five decades to advocating for affordable housing and enhancing community services. He was executive director and CEO of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority, leading significant housing redevelopment projects and community programs. His career includes leadership roles at the National Congress for Community Economic Development and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he administered critical economic development programs.


  • Charles G. Thomas, Jr. Born June 5, 1945, he is a sixth-generation Sandy Spring resident and the son of one of Montgomery County’s first African American entrepreneurs. Inspired by his father's perseverance, Charlie Buck took over and successfully ran Charles Thomas Refuse for 56 years, employing and mentoring many local residents. He has led the Male Mentoring Program at Hopkins United Methodist Church and actively helps maintain the historic African American Mutual Memorial Cemetery. An avid sports fan and former athlete, he played a significant role in fostering racial relations during the integration of Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring.


  • Henry L. Williams, Sr. An active participant in several community groups, he served as chair and co-chair of the African American Advisory Group to former County Executive Doug Duncan, addressing the needs and concerns of the African American community. He is a past president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) Montgomery County Chapter (14 years) and the National Pan Hellenic Council of Montgomery County, representing more than 200,000 residents. He is a member of the Montgomery County chapter of the NAACP and a lifetime member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. For more than 40 years, he has been a dedicated member of the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, where he is currently active in the Usher Board and Seasoned Saints Ministries.

Visit the Office of Human Rights website to view the list of past African American Living Legends Award recipients.

The County Executive’s African American Advisory Group and the Office of Human Rights sponsor the Living Legends Awards ceremony.

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Release ID: 24-268
Media Contact: Jennifer Garfinkel 240-962-1506
Categories: Award, Consumer