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Rally at Freedom Fund Banquet
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Springfield Baptist Pastor Eric Lee

The Rockdale NAACP heard a rallying cry to return to its mission at the Freedom Fund Scholarship Fundraiser Banquet held March 15 at the Georgia International Horse Park.

The event, emceed by Post 1 Commissioner Oz Nesbitt, had about 250 attendees and a long list of candidates and elected officials in the audience.

Speaker and Ga. NAACP President Francis Johnson admonished the audience not to neglect a growing economic underclass. "Our work is not for the well off but for the least of them," he said. "The NAACP does not have permanent friends or permanent enemies; it has permanent issues."

Keynote speaker Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler said the NAACP needed to be clear on its mission to look after the rights of those without power and eliminate racial discrimination.

"While we don't have lynchings, we still have the Trayvon Martins and Jordan Davises killed by another means... We may not have Jim Crow, but we have James and Susie and Barbara, who are the cousins and aunties of Jim Crow," said Dawkins-Haigler.

She said some may be "ashamed" to admit they have an NAACP membership. "The NAACP was not founded just by black folks," she said. She said critics ask, "'Why do black people need to be separate?' We're not separate. When you do right by black America, all America rises to the top."

The audience's job was to help pull up those with less, she said. "If Pookie and Ray Ray don't have a good meal, it's all our fault," she said. "Our ancestors had less and did more."

Springfield Baptist Church Lead Pastor Eric Lee and Rockdale NAACP Vice President Mike Minkoff were named winners of the Jean Williams Community Service Award, named after the Rockdale branch's first president recognizing extraordinary community service.

Invocation was given by Pastor William Andrew Head of Millers Chapel Baptist, Occasion by Minister Ethel Gibson of Bald Rock Baptist, Recognitions by Stan Williams, comments by Evetta Washington, musical selection by Nan C, introduction of speakers by Rockdale NAACP First Vice President Gary King, awards presented by banquet organizers Allene Eatman and Gladys Brown, remarks by President Willie Gibson, and benediction by Pastor T.R. Collins of Lilly of the Valley Baptist.