Post submitted by Ryan Rowe, HRC Senior Regional Field Organizer
NAACP President Bob Ross Ross with HRC staff & volunteers
For their work on marriage equality and many other civil rights issues in Maryland, NAACP Prince George’s County branch President Bob Ross and Baltimore branch President Tessa Hill-Aston received Thalheimer awards on behalf of their branches at the NAACP’s recent national convention in Orlando, Florida. The Thalheimer Award is the highest award given to branches and units of the NAACP for outstanding achievement.
Both leaders and their branches were key partners with HRC and the Marylanders for Marriage Equality coalition that helped make Maryland one of the first states in history to pass marriage equality at the ballot last November.
Ross and Hill-Aston were vocal supporters of Question 6 and played key roles in outreach to NAACP members and the communities they serve.
The Baltimore Branch was one of the early members of the Marylanders for Marriage Equality coalition. And the Prince George’s Branch helped mobilize an unprecedented grassroots effort in Prince George’s County—making the county’s vote for Question 6 extremely close in an area some believed would vote heavily against the ballot measure.
According to Ross, Maryland was at the center of so many important debates that had national implications and the branch was involved in every one of them: county and state redistricting, passage of the DREAM Act and marriage equality.
"The [Prince George’s County] branch has worked hard to strengthen the organization and to tackle the most challenging issues of civil rights and social justice in the county and the state. Needless to say I was extremely proud and deeply moved to have our branch recognized," said Ross.
“The [Baltimore] branch has been extraordinarily busy trying to protect the hard fought civil rights gains for African Americans and to break down barriers to equality for all communities in Maryland,” said Hill-Aston.
Both branches worked closely with organizers Ryan Rowe and Fagan Harris, who coordinated the campaigns partnership with HRC and the NAACP, and under the leadership of state and national NAACP Presidents Gerald Stansbury and Benjanmin Todd Jealous.
HRC shares in the celebration of these two great Maryland leaders and their branches and thanks them again for the key role they played in advancing civil rights for all in Maryland. They have certainly earned this recognition.
NAACP Outreach Deputy Director Fagan Harris holds up one of the Maryland NAACP poll flyers endorsing Question 6.
President Ross (second from right) poses with HRC National Field Director, Marty Rouse (third from left) and MDFME NAAACP Outreach Director, Ryan Rowe (first on left) with a few of the over 60 NAACP poll workers passing out pro Question 6 flyers in the early morning of voting day.