Joan Hash, Silas Craft Collegians Dinner Committee
The late Dr. Silas E. Craft Sr. led the charge to open Howard County’s first Black high school – Harriet Tubman High School in 1949 – and served as its first principal while Hash’s siblings attended. Though he was gone when Hash arrived, his legacy was firmly established.
“He was a friend of the family,” says Hash, who serves on the Silas Craft Collegians Dinner committee that helps organize the Howard Community College Educational Foundation (HCCEF) annual fundraiser for the program. “He spoke at my parents’ 50th anniversary. I went to junior NAACP meetings at his house.
“No one who’s Black in the county didn’t know the name Silas Craft.”
Hash retired in 2016, following a career in cybersecurity, and was volunteering at the Howard County Center of African American Culture when someone asked her about serving on the Craft Dinner committee. “Of course, I was interested,” Hash says. “It honors Silas Craft and it’s for a good cause.
A graduate of Morgan State University and Johns Hopkins University, Hash has a sister who graduated from Howard Community College’s nursing program in the 1980s. She also has some cousins who work at the school. Those were her only connections to HCC prior to joining the committee, but she was familiar with the school from her previous work on the county’s Human Rights Commission.
“I love what HCC does,” she says. “They’re really into the diversity of the county. When I first went on campus, I felt like I belonged there. I spent a lot of time looking at the college’s policies – how they train and what they do with staff. They’re outstanding in how they operate.”
The Silas Craft Collegians program is an academic leadership learning community for recent high school and high school equivalent graduates. Hash says they represent the essence of students Craft loved working with, those who might not be high performers at the outset but have the ability to be excellent. Getting behind such a program is easy.
“The dinner does well, and we get a lot of community support,” she says. “We always reach our monetary goal to fund scholarships. My husband and I believe in giving back, especially to programs for minorities and underprivileged individuals.”
Hash was among the 50 students in Tubman High’s final graduating class (1965) before county schools were desegregated. She has served on the foundation working to restore and reopen the building as the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center. “It’s a major contribution to telling the history of our county,” Hash says.
She sees HCC in a similar light.
“It’s one of the institutions you can easily point to and demonstrate how much the county believes in quality and inclusion,” she says. “It’s one of the main things the county has to show and an example of what this county can produce in terms of excellence.”