Keynote speaker state Sen. Ronald Ramsey challenged the Rockdale NAACP to rediscover the purpose of the civil rights organization as one for all people during the local chapter's 25th annual Freedom Fund scholarship fundraising dinner on Saturday.
"I think we all have some soul searching to do. A lot of people think that the NAACP is just for black people. It's not just for black people. It is to help all people so we do not revisit some of the dark days of our past," said Ramsey.
Ramsey pointed out the NAACP, when it started in 1905, had one African American charter member and seven white charter members on its first executive committee.
"As I look about the room this evening, there should be a rainbow, a collection of colors, religions, socioeconomic diversity with one goal of justice and equality for all people," said Ramsey.
But today, the number of paying members of the NAACP nation wide is 100,000 less than were signed up in 1946, said Ramsey.
"I think some people believe that the NAACP simply doesn't have a purpose anymore simply because no one is attempting to lynch physical bodies. But our mental state and socioeconomic state is very much in peril. There are those that society would allow to prosper that put our young people astray and create images our young people want to emulate that are destructive to their long term well being."
He challenged parents to take up the mantle of raising youth with a sense of responsibility, respect, self discipline and self control.
"We need to stop coddling, even though we want our children to have more than we have... We need to teach them to refrain from blaming others... We should act as if parenting is the most awesome responsibility on the planet."
He proposed the idea of a "P.R.I.D.E." initiative, or "purposeful, resourceful individuals dedicated to education and the environment" that would require the family of a student in trouble to come to a school building on the weekend to meet with a cross disciplinary, holistic team to address what is going on.
"Every student that finds themself in trouble might not be a bad student. There's a saying, 'children these days are doing such a terrible job raising themselves.'"
"I'll be quite honest. I use to mentally condemn when I saw teens walking along side of the street, sagging pants," said Ramsey, "and then I heard that phrase and it hit me like a ton of bricks. We cannot blame the children. We have to examine the household."
The Rockdale NAACP announced this year's winner of the community service award as Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden.
The evening's master of ceremonies was Deacon Al Gibson of Summer Hill Baptist Church, invocation was given by Pastor Layne Fields of Old Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, remarks were given by program chairperson Allene Eatman and Rockdale County school board member Katrina Young, recognitions given by Stanley Williams, dinner blessing given by Pastor TR Collins of Lilly of the Valley Baptist Church, keynote speaker introduced by Rockdale NAACP Vice President Gary King, awards given by Allene Eatman and Treasurer Gladys Brown, remarks given by Rockdale NAACP President Willie Gibson, and closing invocation given by Pastor Billie Cox of Macedonia Baptist Church.