Community activist Emma Buchman was recognized during the Fannie Lou Hamer Awards reception on October 6 for her dedication to fighting for human and civil rights in the community.
The Fannie Lou Hamer Award is presented by the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Anne Arundel County. The award was named for American voting rights activist, civil rights leader and philanthropist Fannie Lou Hamer, who died in 1977 at the age of 57. Hamer was the child of Mississippi sharecroppers and was a fierce advocate for African Americans and women. She ran for Congress in 1964 and 1965, and was seated as a member of Mississippi's official delegation to the Democratic National Convention of 1968, where she was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War.
“Fannie Lou Hamer was a special woman, and most people aren't aware of her, and that is why we selected her,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee Chair Carl Snowden. “What we want to be able to demonstrate is that women that you’ve never heard of make a significant contribution to the community and to the nation.”
The award is for women who are household names and women who are the head of their households. Honorees share the common goal of wanting to make their community a better place.
Buchman stood out to the selection committee because of her work with various civil rights and social justice organizations, her involvement in several Black Lives Matter protests within Anne Arundel County, her knowledge about social media as a tool to reach young people and much more.
“The selection committee looked at work, saw her commitment and decided she was one of the winners,” said Snowden.
The committee unanimously agreed to honor Buchman. She is one of the youngest women to have ever received the award.
“She is the epitome of the future,” said Snowden. “She was selected primarily because she is a young woman who has been actively involved in working to improve the community.”
Buchman was born and raised in Severna Park. She attended Washington College on the Eastern Shore, majoring in international studies and French. She is currently the deputy director of March on Maryland, an organization that seeks to create a unified community through change and engagement support, social justice initiatives, and community education. Through her work with March on Maryland, Buchman has become involved with many other activist organizations such as Connecting The Dots, Community Actively Seeking Transparency (CAST), the Caucus of African American leaders, March On Foundation and Showing Up For Racial Justice. Snowden commends Buchman for fighting for racial harmony and equality for all people.
As someone who values history, Buchman is proud and humbled to receive an award that was named for such an inspirational figure as Fannie Lou Hamer.
“She deserves to have her name said over and over again each year,” said Buchman. “She deserves to have her story told. She's not only someone who deserves it, but someone who may not have received that recognition had it not been for people like [Carl Snowden] who have made sure her name is known.”
Buchman began to fight for equality and activism after college, though the desire for change has been on her heart and mind for most of her life. She said that the more she fights, the more passionate and educated she becomes to her cause.
“We are all people,” she said. “We are all deserving of love, respect and dignity. Every human has those rights to be loved, have dignity and to have a chance to fight for a world that will let them be individuals and support them. When I see other people trying to tear that down, I feel that it's my responsibility to build them up.”
Buchman would like to thank Snowden and the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee for honoring her this year.
“I said in my speech that I don't think they know how much this means to me,” said Buchman. “I really can’t articulate how much it means to me that this group of people gave me the award, because they are such a special, hardworking group of people. I can’t believe how much faith these guys have in me, and I really hope that I live up to it.”