Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People(NAACP), the oldest and largest civil rights organization, has been one of the key players in advancing democracy through its struggle for racial equality and justice for all in the U.S. At 108 years old, the NAACP remains the strongest national voice for freedom.
As the local Sampson County Branch of the NAACP prepares to celebrate the 2017 annual Freedom Fund Banquet on Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center, starting at 6 p.m., it is my fervent hope that our entire community will join in this great endeavor. Make no mistake about it, this evening of encouraging words, music, food and recognition has become the place to be each year in early October, bringing together hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds, from across our community.
In the words of the NAACP’s Past President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, “Because Americans come in all colors—brown, white, black, red and yellow—everyone who shares our commitment is not only welcome at the NAACP, but essential to the success of our work.” Historically, it was the NAACP, acting as an advocate on every front, that led the way in the assault against bigotry and injustice, exposing the eroding and oppressive effects of prejudice and Jim Crow, while opening doors to the American dream.
At this year’s Freedom Fund Banquet, Dr. Theodore Thomas will serve as the Master of Ceremony and the guest speaker will be Clinton native, Mr. Marcus Bass who currently serves as the statewide Campaign Director for the Voting Rights Advocacy group, Democracy North Carolina in Durham. Bass is also the founder of the Youth Leadership Institute, “Camp Lead-Up” (www.campleadup.org). Speaking on the theme, “Parents and Teachers – Valuing Education For a More Just Society,” Marcus Bass, a former public school teacher here in Clinton, will share some of his experiences in helping citizens to harness their own power to create change.
On the eve of the Sampson County NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet, what should matter to us, living here in Sampson County? I still believe the Sampson County NAACP can become that instrument to bring us together as a more united community in our struggle for equality and justice for all in Sampson County.
In recent weeks, we have had opportunities to have conversations to address the possibilities for including everyone in the economic future of Sampson County, acting as though all lives do matter, in an environment of dignity and respect. By creating a culture of equity and inclusion, that will bring us a step closer to reconciliation and healing from past historical wrongs, thus engendering a better understanding and good will between the races.
Moreover, as a community becoming more united in the fight for equality and justice, we must always be about the business of providing everyone an opportunity to build a better life.
Larry Sutton is a retired school teacher from Clinton High School.