The city’s 49th annual Martin Luther King Day celebration, held virtually Jan. 18, included presentations of two awards to community members carrying on King’s legacy. Find the celebration this month on Rockville 11, channel 11 on county cable, and on the city’s YouTube channel.
F. Michael Taff Award
Awarded to an individual, organization or business that has helped to improve the lives of people with disabilities in the City of Rockville, such as through efforts to improve accessibility or raise public awareness.
Selected for his work as a senior associate and direct service employee with TransCen, Inc., Darrell Burns provides technical assistance and employment specialist support to several projects, including Maryland PROMISE, Add Us In, Youth with Disabilities, and the Montgomery County Project. He works with over 25 youth, assisting them in exploring and finding their interests, exposing them to work experiences, and preparing them for their transition to adulthood after high school. Through his work in transition, he has trained others in job placement for people with disabilities, and educated schools on how to better provide transition services. He has also educated many local employers about the benefits of employing people with disabilities and helped place youth in jobs in Rockville and throughout Montgomery County. His enthusiasm radiates as he works with Rockville schools and students on transition through trainings and one-on-one counseling.
Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Award
Awarded to a high school student who lives in or attends school in Rockville who has worked to fulfill King’s dream in either their school or the community.
Nancy Mvogo Mbala, an 11th grader at Richard Montgomery High School and co-president of nonprofit Black Education Matters Inc., was selected as the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Award recipient for her fundraising, grant writing and tutoring of minority students.
Through her membership with Rocket Helpers, Abigail Adigun, a 12th grader at Richard Montgomery High School, was nominated for her dedication to educating the public about homelessness and lobbying for bills to provide more aid for homeless individuals.
As vice president of the Jaguars Scholars Leadership Program, Jaiden Burney, a 10th grader at Richard Montgomery High School, was nominated for creating opportunities, furthering racial equity and inspiring her peers.
Maegan Evans, an 11th grader at Richard Montgomery High School, was nominated for watching out for her fellow students, protecting them from the negativity of discrimination and building their self-esteem.
As vice president of the Minority Scholars Program Banja Kebbay, a 12th grader at Richard Montgomery High School, has become a strong role model for the students. He was nominated for planning and implementing the Gators Mentoring Program, which pairs high school students with fourth-grade students of color at College Gardens Elementary School.
As the community outreach director for MoCo Pride Center’s student-led organization for LGBTQ+ students Lew Wedderien, a 12th grader at Richard Montgomery High School, was nominated for their tireless efforts to protect LGBTQ+ students as demonstrated when they testified before the Maryland Senate Judiciary Committee about the Inclusive Schools Act in February 2020.