Girl advocate, best-selling author and Dear Girls Academy founder and CEO Simeaka Melton is returning to her native Queen Anne’s County as the featured speaker for the annual Black History Month luncheon organized by the Chesapeake College Multicultural Advisory Committee in partnership with the Frederick Douglass Honor Society.
The Feb. 3 event celebrates the 200th birthday anniversary of Douglass, the renowned social reformer and abolitionist from Talbot County.
A graduate of Queen Anne’s County High School, Melton started Dear Girls Academy as a mentoring and creative writing program for girls from diverse and at-risk backgrounds that helps young women achieve and demonstrate the courage, wisdom and strength needed to make good choices and dream big.
The organization runs the Dear Girls annual summit, overnight summer camp and bi-weekly leadership program in Northern Virginia. Dear Girls services — including public and charter school curriculums — are used in 19 states.
“We prepare and inspire girls to live life rising above expectations,” Melton said.
Her talk at the Black History Month event will focus on giving back and the concept of the “village community.”
Melton said she grew up with a village mentality in Grasonville and felt connected to everyone around her.
“We all have something to contribute to our communities at any age or stage in life,” she said. “If children grow up seeing that and believing in it, then they’ll feel connected to a community throughout their lives.”
One of Melton’s favorite quotes about instilling the power of mentorship in youth comes from Frederick Douglass: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Harriette Lowery, a Chesapeake College program assistant, Frederick Douglass Honor Society member and Chair of Talbot County’s 200th Douglass anniversary celebration, said the luncheon and Melton’s talk is one of many upcoming activities to mark the achievements of the Eastern Shore’s native son.
“Our theme for the birthday anniversary is ‘Inspire, Celebrate and Educate.’ We want to inspire diverse audiences to serve, celebrate his birthday and educate on his legacy.”
The Black History Month luncheon will be held Saturday, Feb. 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Chesapeake College’s Caroline Center on the Wye Mills campus. Advance purchase online tickets for the event (including a buffet lunch) are $20 general admission or $10 for students and seniors. Children under 5 are free. Tickets can be purchased. For more information or to purchase tickets by phone, please call Michelle Hall at 410-827-5813.
All proceeds from the event benefit the J.C. Gibson Memorial Book Fund, which helps economically disadvantaged students buy books and supplies.