By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]
Before she officially took the oath of office on December 3, Angela Alsobrooks celebrated her new role as Prince George’s County Executive with an inaugural gala at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center on December 1.
In a sold out ballroom, 1,500 people had the opportunity to be part of history- or the pre-historic turn up. When she was sworn in Monday, Alsobrooks became the first woman to serve as the County Executive for Prince George’s County. As an African American woman- the accomplishment rang doubly historic.
For many that took part in the event, the night was indescribably inspiring.
“The ball was phenomenal. I can’t really put into words how it felt to be a part of history,” said Jimmy Jenkins, who produced the entire inaugural gala. “It definitely felt like a historical night. Like this is somewhere you want to be. And I’m glad I was there. Being there was just inspiring. As soon as you walked into the ballroom, you were inspired and motivated.”
Founder and Artistic Director of The Collectif Project, Megan Atkinson, who danced alongside a singer to the song “Glory” at the gala, said the historicity of the moment set in when she first found out she was going to be taking part in the evening.
“The entire experience was just amazing. It started for me the minute I got the call. I couldn’t even believe that it was me being called for that,” she told the AFRO.
Jenkins, 27, was approached by Alsobrooks personally to put the event together.
“She said, ‘Jimmy, I want to put together a ball, like we never had before.’ … And we came together and put together this piece, and it seemed that people liked it,” he told the AFRO.
A native Prince Georgian, who is constantly creating new work and on the go, Jenkins said he could not turn down the opportunity to work on such an important project, associated with a monumental moment, in his hometown.
“It was important for me because this is my home. This is my love. This is where I grew up, to be the man that I am today, and I thought that I could portray what she wanted me. When she gave me the opportunity, I just jumped on it, because I knew what to do. I knew how special this county is,” the 27-year-old said.
As another native Prince Georgian, Atkinson also felt the enormity of taking part in the gala.
“The magnitude of this inauguration for her, and being able to represent the County that I grew up in since I’ve been born- and I’m still apart of- was amazing in itself.”
“So being able to represent myself in that light, doing something that I love, while being apart of something to celebrate another Black woman making history, I’ll never forget the experience,” Atkinson added.
Drawing from several artistic mediums and influences, Jenkins wanted to create an eclectic evening of arts in celebration of Alsobrooks. In addition to song and dance, there was a documentary to help with the evening’s storytelling. Jenkins said the different mediums made the evening feel less like a gala or ball, but more like a dinner theater.
“I was in awe of the entire evening. It was a beautiful evening, beautiful representation of her, beautiful production,” Atkinson said.
In addition to entertainment, Jenkins used the moment to teach audience members about the history of Prince George’s County. The rich history of the County has served as a source for Jenkins, who has been working on a film chronicling the area, due to release next year.
“We have some of the best churches in the country, one of the best police departments in the country and we also have the most professional athletes, here per capita, in the world,” said Jenkins, who is the son of Pastor John K. Jenkins of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden, a well-known Prince George’s County mega-church. “It’s a new Harlem Renaissance. What happened in Harlem in the 1920s, is happening now [in Prince George’s County] on a different scale,” Jenkins explained.
Since working on the gala and being part of history, Jenkins is inspired for what is to come for Alsobrooks’ career, Prince George’s County and the Black community.
“I think it means hope. I think it just means possibilities, of what we’re ready to do and what we’re ready to become, and it’s just a world of possibilities now.”
Atkinson told the AFRO Alsobrooks’ election means even more for her as a Black woman from Prince George’s.
“Growing up I never looked at politics as a woman’s job, or even a woman’s business,” she said. “So being able to see the Black woman, break the chains, break the barriers, and represent us as a County, is huge for me. It put me in a place to no longer limit myself or place limitations on myself in anything that I do.”