Iconic Detroit Branch NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner Draws Thousands, Showcases Influential Voices

PHOTOS BY: Monica Morgan

The Detroit Branch NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner, renowned as the largest and most prestigious event of its kind, draws thousands of attendees each year to hear from influential voices. This year, the 46th U.S. President, Joe Biden, delivered the keynote address.

The event also raised awareness about critical issues. This year’s theme was the importance of voting and voting rights and continued to mobilize support for the organization’s work. One of the event’s highlights is the presence of high-profile speakers who bring their unique perspectives and insights to the table; some speakers included Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Senator Debbie Stabenow, and the President of Detroit NAACP, Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, among others.

PHOTO: Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President of the Detroit Branch NAACP 

Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President of the Detroit Branch NAACP, addressed the media during a press conference at Huntington Place in Detroit on May 19, 2024, ahead of the NAACP Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner.

“It’s important for us to have access to the (voting) polls. Don’t take it lightly. It has deep-seated meaning, so we must be forever vigilant and determined to never go back,” Anthony said.

During a Detroit Branch NAACP dinner two years ago, Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed the first of several GOP election bills following the 2020 election. The legislation she approved includes provisions that criminalize the intimidation of election workers, mandate disclaimers in political ads, even those created with AI, and allow 16-year-olds to preregister for voting.

“As governor, we’ve taken action to protect and expand voting rights since I took office. I vetoed some bills that would have gutted our ability to cast our votes and to make sure every one of us was counted and had an opportunity to weigh in on this democracy last year, thanks to the new majority and with the help of Speaker Joe Tate from the great city of Detroit,” Whitmer said.

Recently, Senator Debbie Stabenow announced her retirement and says even though she will not have the official title, she will continue in the tradition of John Lewis and stay in ‘Good Trouble.’

“A very big thank you to our president of the Detroit NAACP in 1997 when he put together ‘Take Souls to the Polls’; in 1997, this was a whole new thing to reach young people in Detroit. He talked to us about how to get people engaged and involved,” Stabenow said.

Leon W. Russell, the Chairman of the NAACP, shifted his focus to the youth in the room, emphasizing the significance of understanding public policy and the role of elected officials in shaping it.

“These people determine how you will live in the United States, so when we say this election is about preserving liberty and democracy, it’s not a joke; it’s serious business. Your vote is important,” Russell said.

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