AP NEWS

Aiken County Branch of NAACP holds 36th annual Freedom Fund Banquet

April 24, 2017 GMT

The Aiken County Branch of the NAACP held its 36th annual Freedom Fund Banquet in the Business and Education Building at USC Aiken on April 21.

The purpose of the banquet was to raise funds for the branch and college scholarships.

In addition, the event was a celebration of community sponsors and branch members who have done extraordinary work over the year.

The banquet’s theme was “Now What? Where do we go from here?”

Branch President Eugene White Jr. welcomed approximately 300 attendees, including representatives from religious, corporate and community organizations.

Those in the crowd included S.C. Rep. Bill Clyburn, D-Aiken, Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon, Aiken City Council members Lessie Price and Gayle Diggs, Aiken County Council member Willar Hightower and several members of the Aiken County Board of Education.

The platform party included the Rev. Dr. Jerry Corbett of Mount Anna Baptist Church, Chief Charles Barranco of the Aiken Department of Public Safety, Banquet Chairperson Shirley Abney, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions President and CEO Stuart MacVean, Aiken County Department of Public Safety Community Services Coordinator Cynthia Mitchell, USC Aiken Vice Chancellor for Student Life and Services Dr. Deb Kladivko, Aiken Youth Council First Vice President Council Q’May Qourters, and Minister Debra Guthrie of the Aiken Unitarian Universalist Church.

The speaker for the evening was the Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown, pastor of the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco and an NAACP national board member. He delivered a powerful message about circumventing racism, which he called “America’s greatest defect.”

He talked about the importance of quality education, collaborative relationships between young and old and the resiliency of the oppressed.

Brown urged his audience to “keep on kickin’” in the fight for racial justice and equality.

Aiken County Branch First Vice President Dr. Melencia Johnson and Second Vice President Jack Knox presented several awards on behalf of the branch.

James Gallman Sr. received the Hightower Award for recruiting the most members during the course of the year.

Minister Louisiana Wright Sanders, Mae Carroll and Dorothy Scott were recognized for their years of service to the branch.

Aiken County Branch Immediate Past President Philip Howell was presented an award for his years of leadership.

White presented awards to Aiken Electric Cooperative CEO Gary Stooksbury and Aiken County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford for their continued service to the community.

“This event brings like-minded individuals together to celebrate the oldest civil rights organization in the United States,” White said.

During his presidency, White plans to continue the important work of the NAACP – fighting for racial, educational, and political equality.

“This year’s banquet is a time for celebration and reflection,” Johnson said. “The work of the NAACP is not done yet.”

The Aiken County Branch NAACP meets the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Smith-Hazel Recreation Center, 400 Kershaw St. N.E.

For more information, call 803-810-1909 or send an email to naacpaikencountybranch@gmail.com.