Reverend Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP, said he had a “treat” for the thousands of attendees at the 63rdannual NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner at Cobo Center. The NAACP announced that it will hold its 110th annual national convention at the Cobo Center in Detroit next year.
“It is my privilege to announce to you that the 110thannual convention of the NAACP will be held in Detroit, Michigan in July of 2019 in this very hall,” said Leon Russell, chairman of the NAACP’s national Board of Directors. “We want you to be engaged, we want you to be involved, and we want you to support this host branch during its obvious rebirth and regeneration. We look forward to it.”
The convention will bring delegates from across the country to downtown Detroit, where the group will determine the future policy and program of the NAACP’s advocacy and civil rights efforts. The NAACP previously held its national convention in Detroit in 1921 and 1943.
“We are proud and excited to host the convention here next year,” said Anthony, who has been president since 1993. “Detroit is the largest NAACP Branch in the country and an important city in the fight for freedom and equal rights for African-Americans. The city has seen some progress but still has a long way to go. We want to use this event to continue to shed light on the problems of everyday Detroiters.”
The theme for the dinner was “We Can’t Rest Now, The Stakes Are Too High!” Anthony, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, who was the keynote speaker, and a host of other dignitaries echoed the issues of voting, basic rights, education, jobs, and racial relations around metro Detroit and across the country.
Booker is from Newark, a city similar to Detroit in regard to African-American demographic, crime, and poverty. Booker’s family is from Detroit and his mother was born at Harper Hospital. He understands the struggles of a predominately African-American city and the direction it needs to head in.
“We see every day the unfinished business of America,” Booker said. “I feel a sense of urgency as I stand here right now. But I want you to know being here in Detroit rekindles my sense of hope and potential. Detroit is very near and dear to my heart, since my family is from here. You share the same struggles as the people in Newark, New Jersey but Detroit has always been a town of fighters and will one day be free of the barriers that have been holding it back.”
The Detroit Chapter of the NAACP also announced a partnership with DTE Energy and Wayne State University called the Lewis H. Latimer scholarship program that would give $300,000 in scholarships to students in the city of Detroit to pay for tuition, housing, and books.
“We recognize that education is key,” said Anthony. “We must educate our young people, who are the vanguard of the future. This a tribute to our young people and encouragement for them to stay and build in Detroit.”
UAW Vice-President Jimmy Settles, head of the union’s Ford department, was honored with the James Weldon Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award. Settles is a life-long Detroiter and graduate of Northwestern High. Settles began his career as a trade union activist in 1968 and dedicated his life to fighting for Detroit workers and the city’s youth. Settles is retiring from his day-job but he is not retiring from his life-long mission.
“I’m retiring from the UAW but I’m not retiring from life,” said Settles. “I will continue to fight for economic justice for all people.”