For decades, Yevola Peters has been a trailblazer. There’s even a street named after her in the Greenbriar section of Annapolis.
In the 1960s, Peters helped African American children integrate schools, and for three decades she helped minority families obtain affordable housing in Anne Arundel County.
When asked how it all came about, how she got her own street, she modestly replied, “I’m not quite sure how it happened.”
Peters’ long history as an educator, an advocate and a community organizer, explains why.
The South Carolina native began her career in community service in 1966 as a volunteer with the Community Action Agency in Anne Arundel County after working as a music teacher.
She taught during the period when Maryland schools were being integrated.
Peters moved to the state a decade earlier to attend Morgan State University, an HBCU in Baltimore, where she met and married her husband Everett. The couple moved to Annapolis in 1963.
Although her time as a teacher was meaningful, she felt her skills would be better utilized outside of the school system as an advocate for students struggling to integrate through the organization’s community development program.
During those years, she said, “The idea was to build their leadership skills and to help them deal with conflicts and anxieties.”
Tense moments from that time included a boycott at Annapolis High School, where students protested against the school’s lack of diversity in teachers and courses.
Several students were expelled for speaking out, and it was Peters who was instrumental in helping some of them get reinstated.
Peters became executive director of the Community Action Agency in 1974. Over the next three decades, she would retire three times, and in 2012 was inducted into the Community Action Agency’s Hall of Fame.
At age 85, Peters said she still has work to do. She serves as the volunteer executive director for the Newtowne Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit in Annapolis that provides after school and summer programs for youth as well as a food pantry and career center.
Her awards include the Carroll H. Hynson Jr. Award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Philanthropy, given out by the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, as well as the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award in 2014, awarded to one person in each Maryland county by the state comptroller.
Peters has three children, nine grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
So where will she go from here? Peters has a simple answer: “Wherever God guides me.”