On the backdrop of a successful Meet-the-Candidates/Political Forum held Aug. 27, the Sampson County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is in the process of staging one of the county’s big occasions.
Set for Saturday night on Oct. 6 at 6 p.m., the local branch of the NAACP invites the public to join them in celebrating their 17th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet. As it has for the past several years, the banquet will be at the Sampson Agri-Expo Center, located at 414 Warsaw Road, Clinton.
Founded in 1909, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization remains the strongest national voice in the fight for equality on every front. Historically, the NAACP’s progress has been due to its many members who are organized into state and local branches, working to carry out the mission of the national organization.
Additionally, 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 racism and Jim Crow, while opening doors in the process. In the words of the 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.”
Working to put this major event together, the planners of the annual Freedom Fund Banquet stated, “The NAACP’s historic journey is a wonderful story to celebrate, sharing the organization’s triumphs and victories throughout the years since its founding in 1909. And that journey has been a wonderful blessing for America and the world.” While further echoing the sentiments of Past President Jealous, the planners of the event emphasized the idea that the struggle for equality remains “everybody’s fight.”
The 2018 Freedom Fund Banquet, with the theme, “Teaching Our Youth to Excel in School and Communities to Make a Difference,” will feature Clinton native the Rev. Louie Boykin who currently serves as the senior pastor at Baldwin Branch Missionary Baptist Church in Elizabethtown. After high school, Boykin attended Fayetteville State University before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force, serving for eight years.
Later, Boykin’s pursuits in education included Sampson Community College, associate degree; the University of Mt. Olive, bachelor of science degree in religion; North Carolina College of Theology, masters of Biblical studies; Duke University Divinity School, certificate in pastoral care; and North Carolina Theological Seminary, doctorate of theology. Boykin is retired from General Electric Company and the Clinton City Schools, where he worked as a dropout prevention counselor at Clinton High School.
Being that a major focus of the Sampson County NAACP is to inspire the involvement of young people, particularly local middle and high school students, Boykin will share a call for youth activism that will challenge local youth to take their rightful place in the historical struggle for civil rights in an attempt to continue to make America a more perfect union. Additionally, he will seek to encourage youth leaders, parents and community leaders to provide opportunities for young people to lead, serve and impact their communities in positive ways, while making a difference in their schools and in the community at large.
With the expectation of enjoying the largest attendance of any previous banquet, the local NAACP branch members have been busy getting the word out about the upcoming Freedom Fund Banquet. The banquet organizers are advising that “tickets for the event are available now through Sept. 19. The cost of an adult ticket is $30, and for youth up to age 19 a ticket is $15.” The organizers also stated, “If you are interested in hosting a table that seats 10, the cost is $300, with this being an excellent option for churches, organizations, local businesses, and political leaders who wish to be represented as a special group at this event.” The advice of the event planners is “get your tickets early.”
Those who are unable to attend but would like to show their support for the banquet and the scholarship program are being encouraged to purchase an ad that will appear in the banquet’s souvenir booklet. The options for ads are: full page, $125; half page, $60; quarter page, $35; and business card, $20. And donations will be appreciated.
According to the planners of the 2018 Sampson County NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet, “your support will help to unite our community in our continued struggle for equality and justice for all in Sampson County.” In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Every step toward the goal of justice requires the passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
If anyone has any concerns or questions about renewing your membership or to become a new member of the Sampson County Branch of the NAACP, please contact NAACP President Lee Byam at 910-990-0873. Also, you can purchase tickets from any member of the banquet committee or any member of the branch. The deadline to purchase tickets is Sept. 19.
For more information about the mission and vision of the NAACP, the local branch invites you to attend the general membership meetings every fourth Monday at 6 p.m. at First Baptist, 900 College St., Clinton.