Eight residents were inducted into the Human Rights Hall of Fame by the Montgomery County Office of Human Rights on Oct. 28, including Karen Britto of Chevy Chase, Ann Chapman of Rockville, Susan C. Lee of Bethesda, J. Thomas Manger of Rockville, and Dr. Bernice R. Sandler of Chevy Chase.
Honorees were recognized for their visionary leadership, outstanding achievements and altruism on the road to eliminating discrimination and advancing human rights. Benjamin Jealous, president and chief executive officer of the NAACP, was the keynote speaker at a program and reception at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown.
Britto was the first African-American Chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee and former District 16 Delegate. She was nominated for her dedication to promoting human rights and improving the quality of life for all Montgomery County residents, particularly women and minorities.
For more than two decades, Chapman has operated the Helping Hands Shelter in Rockville. The shelter is a 24-hour emergency assistance center for women, helping thousands of women and children over the years. Clients have made tremendous progress, obtaining training and jobs, improving their credit and developing and sharpening their parenting skills.
Lee was the first Asian-American woman elected to the Maryland General Assembly in 2002 and has been a champion legislator of civil rights and women issues. Lee has helped bring to the forefront important issues impacting minorities and women. She has played a critical role in bringing together diverse ethnic, faith and women’s organizations in Montgomery County to advance common civil rights efforts, eliminate discrimination and promote better understanding and cooperation between those communities.
Since 2004, Manger has served as Montgomery County’s Police Chief. As chairman of the Major Cities Chief’s Association, he testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration concerning comprehensive immigration reform, stressing that all persons regardless of citizenship have a right to expect police services and protection. Manger holds monthly meetings with diverse community groups to discuss issues and concerns. Through his long career as a public servant he has been accessible and willing to reach out to every sector of his community.
A pioneer for gender equality in education, Sandler has spent more than 50 years advocating for women’s rights. She has been a part of many “firsts” in the fight for gender equality. In 1970, she was the first person to testify before Congress about gender discrimination in education. She then became the first person appointed to staff a Congressional committee specifically on issues concerning women’s rights. In 1971, she wrote the first federal policy report regarding sex discrimination in education. As a result of these efforts, she was appointed to chair the first federal advisory committee on Women’s Educational Equity.
The Office of Human Rights Hall of Fame began in 2001 and is held every other year. More than 70 individuals have been inducted over the years. For a complete listing of inductees, go to www.montgomerycountymd.gov/humanrights.