We have gathered here this morning to announce plans for the historic 60th Annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner, scheduled for Sunday, May 3rd, 2015. As we gather here, we are mindful of all the issues that are pressing, not only upon our city but upon our nation. These issues involve the preservation of our right to democracy, sustaining the right to vote in minority communities across America, the onslaught of justice denied by some in law enforcement in the responsibility to protect and serve black and brown males and females, reform in education to enhance academic achievement in our communities, and ending racial and gender divisions in diverse communities. This is a very critical time in the history of civil rights which is why our theme this year is: “Celebrating Freedom: Measured by Practice, Treasured by Sacrifice.”
Fifty years since Selma, the crossing of the Edmund Pettis Bridge, and the signing of the Voting Rights Act, we still have some other bridges to cross. We are excited and inspired, as this year both our awardees and Keynote Speaker reflect dramatically the times in which we live and the journey that we are presently travelling. We are pleased to announce our Ida B. Wells Freedom and Justice Award recipient will be the Honorable Attorney Benjamin Crump of Florida. Mr. Crump has served our community and justice well. He has been a great advocate for the least of these in lifting up the tragic and untimely death of Trayvon Martin in Florida, Eric Garner in New York, Michael Brown in St. Louis, and Tamir Rice in Cleveland. Not only is he an excellent attorney and advocate, but he is a kind and sensitive gentleman whose mind is synonymous with dignity and respect.
We are also pleased to present the Mary Church Terrell Freedom and Justice Award to Michigan’s Executive Director of the ACLU, Ms. Kary Moss. Kary has been a longtime advocate to end racial discrimination, gender inequality, and mistreatment of the poor. She is a fighter to save race conscious-admissions to universities, and most prolific in combating mass incarceration. Indeed, she is most worthy of this honor.
We are greatly inspired of course by our Great Expectations Awardee, Ms. Jessica Care Moore. Ms. Moore has been a champion in the grassroots community of equal rights at all levels. She has been an activist in Detroit, to Ferguson, to D.C., and outside the borders of the United States. She is a renowned poet and word-master in describing the condition of our people and the challenges of our nation. We look forward to this presentation.
Certainly, it goes without saying the recipient of the James Weldon Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award can be no other than the Honorable John Conyers, Jr. Congressman Conyers, the first African American Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives, the first African American Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and too many other firsts to mention, is well positioned to receive this high honor. His life is a caricature of lifting every voice to sing the song of freedom, justice, and equality.
As we approach the Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner on May 3rd, we will again observe Freedom Weekend with the Freedom Institute for Economic, Social Justice and People Empowerment. This will be a weekend to remember! We will begin with…
Thursday, April 30:
- Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! A job fair for people throughout this community in conjunction with vendors from around our region.
- A Senior Citizen Health and Education Fair.
Friday, May 1:
- A Labor and Faith-based Leaders Breakfast, detailing the challenges in both labor and faith-based organizations, working to resolve issues of unemployment, education, and workers’ rights.
- A special forum dealing with Economic Development in the city of Detroit: What about the Neighborhoods? After Bankruptcy, Where Do We Go?
- ACRL, Detroit Branch NAACP, and the Freedom Institute present A Justice Awards Reception. Honoree: U.S. Attorney, Barbara McQuade.
Saturday, May 2:
- Health, Run, Walk, Bike Ride!
- Ron Walters National Town Hall Meeting. The theme is “The Future of Education in Detroit and Michigan.”
- A Youth leadership development forum with youth from across the city, including skill trade/vocational training jobs for the 21st
These events are free and open to the public. Everyone is encouraged to attend. For information regarding Freedom Weekend, sponsored by the Freedom Institute, one can go to www.freeinstitute.org to download all pertinent information.
Finally, to culminate this historic weekend, we are pleased to announce our Keynote Speaker, who graciously consented to join with us, the Honorable Vice President of the United States of America, Joe Biden.
Again, we are the only branch of the NAACP in its 106 year history to have ever hosted a sitting Vice President Al Gore, sitting President Bill Clinton, Senator Barack Obama who would become the first African American President just prior to his ascending to that position, and now Vice President Joe Biden, currently in the position at this very critical hour.
This is a tribute to our branch, all of our volunteers and supporters, and the people of Detroit. We welcome everyone to join with us for these events here in the big D. You may go to www.detroitnaacp.org or call 313-871-2087 in order to get additional information or ticket information concerning the hottest event in our city, as we start off the month of May.