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Some small consolation is that, at least, Pannell continues to be recognized for his contributions. There may not be a golden parachute, but he has received a share of community gratitude – this year more than most. The Anacostia Community Museum honored Pannell in September, for example. He was honored by D.C.’s Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for work with ex-offenders. More recently, the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations named him the Civic Association President of the Year.
Come Dec. 8, there will be another honor for Pannell. This time, Faith Temple will celebrate him as ”an activist to all people in the city.” And he’s not even a member. Pannell spends his Sundays at the progressive Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ. Still, as Faith Temple uses the Dec. 8 occasion to honor ”pioneers, past and present,” Pannell certainly fills the bill, having witnessed the Stonewall uprising in Greenwich Village in 1969, leading the D.C. Young Democrats as the group’s president in 1979, and on through years of D.C. activism.
”I’ve been involved in gay-rights issues for four decades. I’ve been around for a while,” says Pannell, teasing that if the Faith Temple recognition means one thing, it’s that he’s old. In a more serious tone, Pannell congratulates Faith Temple on the work it, too, has done for the city. As he continues, it genuinely seems that the Faith Temple honor is more valuable than his upcoming Palm Springs respite, however much he may be looking forward to it.
”I thank God for blessing me to be 62 years old, in that I’ve obviously done some things in that time,” Pannell offers. ”I’ve just been out there. Maybe it’s a recognition of the fact that I’m so delusional that I can actually make a difference, that I continue to be involved. In the late ’70s, I was president of the D.C. Young Democrats; now that I’m in my 60s, I’m president of my AARP chapter. This shows that longevity is something, that I’ve been involved. I’m very honored and humbled to be receiving this kind of recognition.”
Faith Temple honors Philip Pannell at its Christmas Holiday Mixer, Saturday, Dec. 8, at the District’s central Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, basement level A-5, 901 G St. NW, from 2 to 5 p.m. For more information, contact the Rev. Jakki Dennis at email@example.com or visit faith-temple.com.