Mrs. Lewis is known as the Norman Rockwell girl because she, like Ruby Bridges in Rockwell’s famous painting “The Problem We All Live With” helped integrate her public school in Cumberland in 1955. In fact, Rockwell’s iconic painting bears an uncanny resemblence to a news photo of Juanita entering her school as a little girl. Judge for yourselves, in the pictures below.
The award, given by the Annapolis-based Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee, Inc., honors women of various ethnic and racial backgrounds who have demonstrated a commitment to social justice. The annual reception celebrates the birthday of one of the unsung heroines of the Civil Rights Movement, best known for her impassioned speech for voters’ rights during the 1964 Democratic Convention.
Committee Chairman Carl Snowden told the Baltimore Times that the awards recognize “Marylanders who slip under the radar. ‘We selected recipients of the Fannie Lou Hamer awards who are not household names, because like the late Mrs. Hamer they are making a difference in the lives of the people they serve. We are very proud of these recipients.’”
Juanita certainly has not slipped under the radar at DHCD. Our customer service manager is on the front lines when it comes to responding to the needs and concerns of Maryland citizens in a warm and intimate manner that puts the best possible face on state government.