Yevola S. Peters
In the 1990s, Yevola Ruth Smith Peters was the first African American female to have an Annapolis City street named after her. (106) To pave the way for the development of the Greenbriar housing area in the early 1990s, the street, “Yevola S. Peters Way” was created.
Although the City had historically named streets after men and women of other ethnic groups, Yevola S Peters Way was created as a testament to Peter’s long-standing community work in the Annapolis area.
Yevola was born to Katie Pough Smith and Hampton David Smith, who were both teachers at Claflin College, one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) now known as Claflin University, in Orangeburg, South Carolina. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University, a master’s degree from Boston University, and pursued further studies at the Universities of Arizona and Maryland. Her professional work began as a music teacher and later as a band director, from 1960-1969 in the public school systems in Kent, Howard, and finally Anne Arundel County.
Peters began her community advocacy work in 1966, when she started volunteering with the Anne Arundel County Economic Opportunity Committee, Inc. which evolved into the Anne Arundel County Community Action Agency. Her work for this agency was a natural fit for Peters because of their support in anti-poverty areas and their work for families and youth.
In 1969 she began employment at the Agency, where she initially was the Director of Youth Development Programs. Later she became a community organizer, and subsequently, among other areas, she worked as the Chief Program Officer and Assistant Director. Finally, she became the Agency’s Executive Director from 1974 to 1991. Nearly ten years later, she returned to the Agency as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and continued her work there until 2005.
Peters’ professional work and volunteer activities supported and highlighted her community advocacy. In addition to the various community efforts supported through her work with the Community Action Agency, from 2006 through 2016 she served the community in many other outreach roles. She worked as the Director of Constituent Services and Special Assistant for Human Relations and Minority Affairs for multiple County Executives of Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
Within the Annapolis community, Peters served on numerous boards and worked with numerous organizations. Among others, these include serving as a founding member and past president of Banneker-Douglass Museum Foundation, Inc.; a founding board member of the Anne Arundel Conflict Resolution Center, Inc.; and the Newtowne Community Development Corporation. She was an active member and leader within the St. Phillips Episcopal Church.
Peters was married to Everett E. Peters for fifty years. She has three children, multiple grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She credits her upbringing in Orangeburg, S.C., and her parents’ example of community activism, for instilling in her a desire to help others. “My parents were both educators,” Peters said. “They’d see children in need, and they would nourish them.”
In May of 2022 Peters, 86, wanted to quietly step out of public life and move to Virginia Beach, Virginia, where her three children, grandchildren, and many of her great-grandchildren lived nearby. On May 22, the Rev. Randy Callender hosted a gathering at St. Philips Episcopal Church that included representatives from the offices of Governor Larry Hogan and State Senator Shaneka Henson, the county executive, County Council, mayor of Annapolis and City Council. All were there to solemnly declare May 22 as “Yevola Peters Day.” William Rowell, spokesman for the mayor’s office, presented her with the key to the city.