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Voting Rights Act celebrated 50 years later

Courtesy Photo/PWC Duane McCoy, center, sings with Ebenezer Baptist Church’s Robert Pop Middleton Male Chorus at the Universal Human Rights Day Celebration on Jan. 17 at the James J. McCoart Building.
The Prince William Human Rights Commission recently held its annual Human Rights Day Celebration.

This year, the commission commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and kicked off a year that will bring a number of events aimed at celebrating the landmark legislation.

As in years past, the commission used the day to recognize people who have contributed to human rights.

Albert Brooks, Eleana Boyer, Cynthia Brown, the Rev. Dr. Luke Torian and Victoria L Graham were recognized for their work toward the goal of furthering human rights.

Brooks established an institute called Progress through Training which trains minorities to effectively and strategically execute an “election ground game,” which increased minority turnout and absentee voter participation in the eastern end of Prince William County by 30 percent.

Boyer was recognized for her work with the disabled since 1978. Boyer’s efforts with various agencies served to transition students with disabilities from school to employment. Brown coordinated for the Anti-Defamation League through its “World of Difference” program at Hylton High School.

The program trains students to talk to their peers about prejudice and discrimination. She also raised $10,000 for a student who had suffered a debilitating injury.

Torian, the pastor of First Mt. Zion Baptist Church, promotes outreach in the community through the “Ministry Beyond the Walls” program.

He also initiated the “Feed My Starving Children” campaign to package food for 10,000 Haitian children and led a drive to collect $16,500 for Thanksgiving baskets for the needy.

Graham, a member of Action in the Community Through Service (ACTS), directed the ACTS Helpline which provides 24-hour, 365-day support to emotionally distressed people.

Also during the event, Pastor Charles Lundy and Deacon Albert Stewart from Ebenezer Baptist Church were guest speakers. Ebenezer Baptist Church’s Pop Middleton Male Chorus performed along with the instrumental duet, Banks and Porter.

Other events the commission will hold throughout the year include the African American Festival at noon on Aug. 1 at Metz Middle School in Manassas.

In September, a gala event celebrating the anniversary will be held and more events will be added throughout the year.

For more information about the events or the Human Rights Commission, call 703-792-4680.
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