Freedom Fund Banquet takes stage tonight

By Larry Sutton - Contributing columnist

Tonight, the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People(NAACP) will host its 18th annual Freedom Fund Banquet at the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center, starting at 6 p.m. This event has become one of the county’s big occasions, bringing hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds, from across our community, together in a show of unity in our continuing struggle for equality and justice for all in Sampson County.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the oldest and largest civil rights organization committed to advancing democracy through its struggle for racial equality and justice in the U.S. At 109 years old, the NAACP remains the strongest national voice for freedom. In a recent communication to members of the more than 2,000 branches around the country, Derrick Johnson, the NAACP President and CEO, stated, “The work of making our country just and equal for every American is an ongoing project that requires those of us who can fight to do so in our time.”

Historically, the struggle for racial equality and justice took on a new urgency in the first decade of the 20th century at a time when black Americans were at the nadir in American society and were a “rejected, despised people” according to Professor Edgar A. Toppin, author of “The Black American in United States History.” It was during this time that an interracial group of progressive Americans called for a national conference to focus the nation’s attention on the need to extend to all Americans the freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution. This meeting, on the centennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, Feb. 12, 1909 in New York City led to the founding of the NAACP.

These progressive reformers felt the time had come “to assail the ears of America” and put more light on America’s most troubling social problem—race relations. And tonight, 109 years later, the Freedom Fund Banquet will demonstrate our continued commitment to fighting for what’s right. As a community, we must continue to be about the business of making progressive change and improving lives.

To help narrate the events of tonight’s Freedom Fund Banquet, Minister Judy Johnson-Truitt will serve as the Mistress of Ceremony, and the guest speaker will be Clinton native Rev. Dr. Louie Boykin who currently serves as the senior pastor at Baldwin Branch Missionary Baptist Church in Elizabethtown. Speaking on the theme, “Teaching Our Youth to Excel in School and Communities to Make a Difference,” Boykin will share a call for youth activism. This challenge 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.

Individually and collectively, we all must “burn with a desire to do good,” realizing the fight for civil rights is “everybody’s struggle.”

By Larry Sutton

Contributing columnist

Larry Sutton is a retired teacher from Clinton High School.

Larry Sutton is a retired teacher from Clinton High School.