The Sampson County Branch of the NAACP will host its annual Freedom Fund Banquet at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center, 414 Warsaw Road, Clinton.
The speaker for this year will be Sen. Eric Mansfield who recently ran for North Carolina Lt. Governor. Banquet committee members are excited about the banquet because it’s just a few days before the Nov. 6 presidential primary election and they plan to invite all local and state candidates to this event.
Mansfield was born in Louisiana, and grew up in Columbus, Ga. At the young age of 10, he witnessed the death of his father, which inspired him to pursue a career in medicine. The senator was raised by a single mother, an educator, who dedicated her life to ensuring that Mansfield and his sister had access to every opportunity available to them.
As a sophomore in high school, Mansfield’s mother told him that she could not afford to send him to college. The senator worked hard to obtain a ROTC scholarship, and was able to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. He deferred his Army service to attend Morehouse School of Medicine. He then relocated to New Orleans, La. to attend Surgical and Otolaryngology Residency at Tulane University School of Medicine.
Upon completion of training, Mansfield relocated to Ft. Bragg. He was assigned to Womack Army Medical Center and acted as the Battalion Medical Officer for the 2-505 Parachute Infantry Regiment in the 82nd Airborne Division. The senator also served as the Chief of Otolaryngology Services at Womack Army Medical Center from 1998-2001. During this time Mansfield deployed to Kosovo with the 2/505 PIR.
After separating from the military, Mansfield chose to stay in the city that had embraced him as a soldier, Fayetteville. He opened Cape Fear Otolaryngology, an Ear, Nose and Throat practice. Believing that education is a life long endeavor, the senator just completed his Masters in Public Health at UNC Chapel Hill.
Since establishing his practice in Fayetteville, Mansfield has been active in the community. He acts as the Minister to Young Adults at Lewis Chapel Baptist Church. He was the Co-Founder and Board President of Father’s Foundation, a local non-profit organization that provides financial support to students for educational purposes. He is also currently a Board Member for the Cape Fear Regional Bureau for Community Action, Incorporation.
“We have moved the banquet to the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center in order to accommodate more people, therefore we hope to have at least 500 citizens and community leaders attending. Our goal is to fill 50 tables shared by our members, local business, churches, political leaders, organizations and community leaders throughout the state of North Carolina,” expressed Dwight Miller, committee co-chairman. The tickets are $25 each and can be purchased through Oct. 12. The purchase of a banquet ticket includes entry into the banquet and the evening meal. “We are also encouraging churches, organizations, local businesses, political leaders and individuals to purchase tables for $250 for ten seats. This helps groups and individuals guarantee sitting together at the event,” added Miller.
Additionally the committee plans to host an educational forum for the youth at the Agri-Exposition Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event is free and will provide students currently attending middle and high school in Sampson County Schools and Clinton City Schools They will have an opportunity to attend group sessions on educational topics with or without parents. The first 100 students will be provided bags filled with school supplies and lunch will be served.
“It is important that we reach out to the community for support at this event to ensure our youth and parents attend this event. Our intent is to ask support from the school systems, local business, churches, political leaders and community leaders to partner with us for this event. The topics and speakers are to be determined at a later date and a separate flyer will also be published for this event,” shared Miller.
The banquet committee will also be asking for banquet ad donations. Gold donations will also receive special recognition throughout the banquet through visual screens and personal announcements. All ads will be placed in the banquet program. This is an opportunity to showcase churches, businesses or political aspirations throughout the banquet.
“It is critical that we support this year’s banquet as we prepare for the final days before the 2012 presidential election. If you don’t register, you can’t vote, and if you don’t vote, then you don’t have a voice,” remarked Miller.
Anyone with questions or concerns should contact oDwight Miller at 910-592-4620, Lillie Stokes at 592-0316 or membership chairman Graham Faison at 592-0108. Banquet tickets may be purchased from those listed above or other designated members. You may send your payments for tickets or donation for ads to P.O. Box 305, Clinton NC 28328. Payments are to be made to Sampson County Branch of NAACP and include your full name, address and contact information. Deadline for all ticket purchases and donations are Oct. 12.