NAACP President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony recently announced the honorees for the 59th Annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner, which will be held this year on Sunday, Mary 4, 5 p.m. at Cobo Convention Center.
Rev. Dr. William Barber, who is the State Conference president of the North Carolina NAACP, will be the recipient of the Ida B. Wells Freedom and Justice Award.
“Dr. Barber has gone to jail, rallied in snow and sunshine, fought for education, workers’ rights, and voting rights throughout the South,” said Rev. Anthony. “He is a man who has demonstrated the true meaning of civil rights for all people.”
Barber has consistently worked to uplift the poor, defend women who are often marginalized, advocate for people from Appalachia and the urban community by organizing what is now known as “Moral Mondays” in the state of Carolina.
The Detroit Branch NAACP will also honor the Detroit 15, the workers organized to make a difference in the debate for income and inequality with the Mary Church Terrell Freedom and Justice Award.
Quoting Luke 10:7, “The laborer is worthy of his hire,” Anthony said, “The Detroit Branch NAACP joins with 65 percent of the people of Michigan who believe that Michigan should be among the first in its quest to equalize and economically stabilize the income levels of people throughout the state of Michigan and the nation.
“We salute the men and women who go to work every day, working to feed their families, educate their children, and pay their mortgages while pursuing a livable and meaningful living wage,” said Anthony.
This year, for the first time, two iconic political leaders are retiring at the same time leaving a tremendous void within Michigan’s political community. The Honorable John Dingell of Dearborn, Michigan and Senator Carl Levin will receive the James Weldon Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award.
“This is indeed a historic year as Michigan will see the retirement of two of our nation’s leading elected officials in both the U.S. House and Senate,” Anthony said. “One cannot come to the state of Michigan or travel to the U.S. House of Representatives without encountering the impact of the longest serving congressman in our history.”
Congressman Dingell is described as the dean of the U.S. House of Representatives. He has served for more than 58 years as congressman of the 12th District of Michigan and has worked in many areas of government, most notably the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, serving as its chairman on more than one occasion.
Senator Levin is Michigan’s senior senator who has served in the U.S. Senate for more than 36 years, longer than any other senator in Michigan’s history. He ranks fifth among his colleagues in the U.S. Senate and has served on a variety of committees, most notably serving as chairman of he Senate Committee on Armed Services. Levin helped to lead the committee on Homeland Security, and on Senate Governmental Affairs, among other accomplishments.
This year the NAACP is planning a host of events reinstituting its Freedom Weekend. One of the events, a Jobs Jobs Jobs expo, will take place on Saturday, May 3, prior to the dinner.
“We recognize that Detroiters still need jobs,” said Rev. Anthony. “We need more than vacant lots turned into farmland. We need job training, technology and preparation for the jobs that are currently here.”
The Freedom Institute for Economic, Social Justice and People Empowerment will also have panel discussions dealing with youth leadership, entrepreneurial opportunities, and financial planning. There will be a major discussion involving mayors form various cities both locally and nationally coming to discuss the New Urban Center and the appropriate role of the nation, the state and the city in the stabilization and future development of local communities.
“We will explore the question as to whether the states are abdicating their responsibility to support economically and with effective public policy, their local municipalities,” Anthony said.
The Detroit Branch NAACP will soon announce additional special guests who will attend the dinner. For more information about the dinner, or to purchase tickets, call (313) 871-2087 or visit http://www.detroitnaacp.org.