When long-time Leesburg civic activist Ann Robinson died earlier this year, Doris Kidder worked to have the Leesburg Town Council and Loudoun Board of Supervisors formally recognize her community contributions.
On Monday night, Kidder was recognized for a contribution of her own. She was presented with the inaugural Ann Robinson Social Justice Award.
While Kidder has a long résumé of civic service, including her current seat on the town’s planning commission, the award highlighted her role as founder of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. march in town.
The award was presented by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun during its Loudoun Falls for Social Justice fundraising program at Shoe’s Cup & Cork.
Kidder said she got the idea after moving to Leesburg in 1988 and attending an MLK event in Purcellville. Thinking Leesburg should offer something similar, she approached Peter Dunning of the Bluemont Concert Series. His advice: “Maybe you should get some people of color involved.”
Next, Kidder went to her first meeting of the NAACP’s Loudoun Chapter. Asked why she was there, Kidder told them of her plans for a march.
“I was the only white person in the room and they just looked at me as if I was a little bit off,” Kidder said.
She went back the next month and the next. By that third meeting, they figured she wasn’t going away and agreed to let her proceed if she did the legwork. The chapter, and the community at-large, quickly lined up behind the effort, which will mark its 25th anniversary in January. Also, Kidder went on to serve as president of the NAACP chapter.
Kidder also reflected on Robinson’s service.
“I think the difference between Ann Robinson and myself is that she was naturally sweet and kind,” the always straight-spoken Kidder said. “I have to work at that.”