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Women of color forum held in Silver Spring

  • Published in Local

women of colorPanelists pose together following their Montgomery County Women Candidates of Color forum in Silver Spring. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAKSILVER SPRING — Seventeen women of color who are running for local political office urged those attending a panel discussion at the Silver Spring Civic Center June 7 to elect minority candidates so that members of County Council, school board, judicial bench and Democratic committee will be more representative of the population at large.

“When you look across the table, you see all beautiful women, of all shades,” said Brandy Brooks, a candidate for County Council at large. “Then think who’s on council now,” she said at the two-hour forum.

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Actor gives commencement speech at Magruder graduation

  • Published in Local

Jason Kravits speaks the Colonel Zodak Magruder High School GraduationCharacter actor and Magruder alum Jason Kravits encourages the high school’s 2018 graduating class not to plan too far ahead and “focus on the task at hand.” COURTESY PHOTO BY MONTGOMERY COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLSIt’s okay to fail. Don’t plan ahead too much, nor carve your future in stone. Say yes to new experiences, and don’t be afraid to start over.

That was some of the wisdom imparted by actor Jason Kravits to the 2018 graduating class of Colonel Zadok Magruder High School at its June 1st graduation at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

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Raskin invokes high school’s namesake at Einstein graduation

  • Published in Local

KENSINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (8th District) invoked the character and achievements of Albert Einstein as he addressed the Albert Einstein High School Class of 2018 during its graduation Tuesday afternoon.

Einstein stood strong against Nazism and fascism. He was a scientific genius who valued imagination over knowledge and an immigrant who in 1933 left the violence and hatred Adolph Hitler was spewing and began life in America, Raskin told the students.

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Slavery in Montgomery County

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New archaeological dig focuses on former slave and will determine the future of Josiah Henson Park museum

This house on Old Georgetown Road is being restored to the way it looked during the 1800s.  PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAKThis house on Old Georgetown Road is being restored to the way it looked during the 1800s. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAK  Just a few yards off busy Old Georgetown Road in North Bethesda, archaeologists with the County Department of Parks are digging up pottery shards, buttons, thimbles, nails, and animal bones that had been used for various chores such as cooking and sewing as well as toys, all dating back to 18th and 19th centuries.

Isaac Riley owned 275 acres there. He also owned 24 slaves, including Josiah Henson, whose later journal writings became the basis for the character Uncle Tom in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

As a young boy, Henson watched his father beaten for trying to stop his wife’s rape by the owner of a plantation, where the family was enslaved in Charles County.

Soon after that, Riley purchased Henson and kept him on the North Bethesda property as a slave until 1830. He later became the overseer for Riley and often took the wheat, barley, and corn crops grown on the property to Georgetown to sell.

While living in Maryland, Henson frequented a nearby church that was for white people only. He stood outside and listened as the preacher led the congregation in prayer and song. He developed a love for Christianity and later became a reverend.  

For several years, he strove to buy his freedom, but Riley “lies to him, tricks him,” said Cassandra Michaud, senior archaeologist for the Parks Department.

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Vietnam War veterans attend unveiling of memorial in Rockville

  • Published in Local

A Vietnam War veteran examines the new memorial in Rockville.  PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAKA Vietnam War veteran examines the new memorial in Rockville.           PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAK  ROCKVILLE — Several hundred people, many of whom wavered between saluting and wiping tears from their eyes, watched solemnly as Montgomery County’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall was unveiled Monday afternoon.

The wall, located on Memorial Plaza in Rockville, features the names of the 130 County residents who were killed or reported missing in action during the Vietnam War.

During the afternoon ceremony, each of the 130 names was read aloud, followed by one single strike on a bell.

Just like at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., relatives and friends will be able to see their loved ones’ names and make rubbings for mementos. Also like at the national memorial, several relatives placed bouquets of roses near their loved ones’ names.

“Every time I come over here, I’ll see and remember others who I served with who didn’t come back,” said Stan Seidel, who fought in Vietnam in 1968. He was one of many veterans attending the ceremony, who wore their hats, uniforms, and honors with pride.

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“Encouraging”

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Survey shows homeless population in Montgomery County continues to fall

A homeless man sleeps on the pavement in Silver Spring in July 2017. FILE PHOTOA homeless man sleeps on the pavement in Silver Spring in July 2017. FILE PHOTOThe number of homeless people in the County decreased by 6 percent, according to a survey from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. There were 54 fewer people experiencing homelessness in 2018 than in 2017.

The number of homeless people counted on Jan. 24 decreased from 894 in 2017 to 840 for this year.

“I think we are getting down to the most vulnerable. These are the hardest to house,” said Christine Hong, director of homeless services at Interfaith Works.

Volunteers throughout the Washington, D.C., area walked the streets to count the number of people experiencing homelessness. That night, they found 7,473 homeless people in the District, which is eight percent fewer than in the previous year. In Prince George’s County, the number of homeless people dropped by 10 percent.

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MoCo teens share magic of robotics competition

  • Published in Local

Wizards.exe team members Rohan Dewan, Ishaan Oberoi, Devasena Sitaram, and Arjun Oberoi show their winning robot and the trophies they earned in recent international competition. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAKWizards.exe team members Rohan Dewan, Ishaan Oberoi, Devasena Sitaram, and Arjun Oberoi show their winning robot and the trophies they earned in recent international competition. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAK  There was no magic involved when the Wizards.exe came home from Detroit with the First Tech Challenge World Championship Inspire Award in hand, along with their robot, which took 10th out of 6,000 teams from around the globe.

Eleven Montgomery County teenagers have been working diligently since the start of the school year to build a robot that could differentiate colors, sense distances, and pick up cardboard blocks and then assemble them into a pattern – all within two-and-a-half minutes.

Ishaan Oberoi, a 10th-grader at Richard Montgomery High School, and his younger brother, Arjun Oberoi, an eighth-grader at Takoma Park Middle School, were in the car several years ago when they spotted a billboard for a robotics competition.

It sounded interesting, and “there was nothing much like this in school,” so the boys joined, said Ishaan. Their father, Pankaj Oberoi, agreed to be their coach, and they have been going strong ever since.

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MoCo gets good health news

  • Published in Local

Tcountysealhe County’s first health status report shows that while the area fares better than the rest of Maryland along most dimensions, work is needed to decrease the incidence of tuberculosis and sexually-transmitted diseases.

The newly-released “Health in Montgomery Report,” which covers the years 2008 to 2016, “really is a comprehensive look at the health statues of our community” and a way to track “trends over time,” explained Mary Anderson, a County public information officer.

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GSA to decide on FDA expansion at White Oak

  • Published in Local

Officials at the General Services Administration currently are reviewing plans and should decide by this fall whether they will greatly expand the number of employees and buildings at the Food and Drug Administration campus at its White Oak facility.

If plans are approved, the work force is expected to rise from the current 11,000 to 18,000 employees, according to a GSA spokesperson. An additional 1.2 million gross square feet of office space will be constructed on the site, which is located off New Hampshire Avenue.

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State song may soon be demoted to historical status

  • Published in State

Maryland Flag“Maryland, My Maryland,” the Civil War battle hymn that refers to “Northern scum” soon may no longer be the state song.

But rather than replace “the embarrassing, outdated and racist song,” as Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-17) called it, the State Senate opted last week to demote the song to historical status.

“It will be designated as historical. We are putting it aside,” said Kagan, who stressed that her preference for the new designation is “historical, not historic. ‘Historical’ means that’s what we used to believe.”

The lyrics, which are from a poem written in the early days of the Civil War by James Ryder Randall, “are offensive and outdated,” she said, explaining why she has been trying to repeal and replace the song since 2016.

Before the song is officially downgraded, the House of Delegates must agree. An official vote in the House has not yet been scheduled.

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