Eleven-year-old Roy I. Dahney III sat at the head of the table with his parents at the luxurious Tantallon Country Club in Prince George's County wearing a well-groomed Afro-hairstyle, a dark three-piece suit and a big smile.
Normally, he said he would be bored sitting with so many adults, dressed in so many grey business suits, but tonight was different. His father was to be officially named president of the Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce.
It didn't matter much to Dabney that his father was going to be the first black president of the chamber in its 53-year history, only that "dad is going to be president."
The appointments of their first black president and their first woman executive vice president last week were apparently well received by the group of county businessmen, which now includes a few blacks and women.
"Just 10 years ago, who would have imagined such a thing could have happened," said one of the speakers, as county entrepreneurs drank cocktails, made light conversation and dined on steak and salad.
Installed in office were Roy I. Dabney Jr., who has been president-elect for the last year, and Evelyn J. Bata, who as executive vice president will manage the county Chamber of Commerce. They, along with three other officers and 24 directors, will run the civic organization this year.
Dabney, 35, an officer of American Bank's Langely Park branch, is a 1960 graduate of Cardoza High School in the District of Columbia. He moved from teller to officer of the bank in six years.
According to the new president, the fact that he is black "is not going to make a difference because it is not like they don't know me." Dabney said he does not feel he is holding a "token" position because he said he invested many hours in the civic organization.
To the crowd of more than 250 county businessmen, Dabney said he wanted those who were not involved with the chamber to "get a little closer."
Congresswoman Gladys N. Spellman said that the chamber had finally realized, in their appointment of Bata, "that when a job got bigger than a man-sized job . . . it became a woman-sized job," which drew laughter from the crowd.
Spellman also said the county Chamber of Commerce has changed in the last 25 years from a group that always complained about what was wrong instead of thinking about what was needed.
Another speaker was the outgoing president, Larry O. Demaree, who at 34 was the chamber's youngest president.