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The year 2012 marks 100 years since the founding of the Detroit Branch NAACP. This is a year of celebration – reflecting both our victories and our challenges. We salute our predecessors who have laid the foundation for the continuous vigilance of the Detroit Branch NAACP.

The history of our organization has been decorated by the hard work, complete dedication and commitment to the task at hand of the hundreds of volunteers, past presidents, executive directors and board members. We will always be indebted to the likes of Dr. William Osby, Rev. Robert Bradby, Sr., Rev. Charles Hill, Rev. James E. Wadsworth, Jr., Dr. Frederick Sampson, Dr. Betty Lackey, Dr. Charles G. Adams, Mr. Joe Madison, Dr. Arthur Johnson, Mr. Thomas Turner and many, many others.

We also recognize with gratitude the work of Judge Damon R. Keith for his counsel and support of the branch over the years. Our Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner is, of course, one of the signature events in our nation. We are grateful to the likes of Dr. Lionel Swann, Dr. Alfred Thomas, D.T. Burton, the former Detroit Branch Treasurer M. Kelly Fritz, Branch President Edward M. Turner, Arthur Johnson along with 59 members of the Detroit Medical Society who became the Freedom Fund Dinner’s first 59 subscribers. An initial meeting had been called in the Holiday room of Detroit’s famed Gotham Hotel. As we prepare for our 57th Annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner, we remain the only branch in the nation to have the privilege of hosting presidents, secretary of states, international dignitaries for the occasion of freedom fund events.

We have continued to be pleased with our record of providing over $1 million dollars of food, medicine, cargo vans, and agriculture materials to the nations of Rwanda and Zaire with the aid of John Conyers, Jr. and President Bill Clinton during their tribal conflicts. We were pleased to initiate Project DREAMZS (Detroit Relief Effort to Aid Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa) during the flooding of those nations. We have worked to re-build burned out black churches in South and North Carolina. We have organized and marched with members of the labor communities, faith based and grassroots organizations at every level. We believe we have a stellar record unmatched by any branch in the nation for advocacy on social justice issues and the implementation for correction on issues affecting our community. We are committed to remaining vigilant in the quest for freedom and justice as we fight for the maintenance of our democracy amidst emergency managers and consent agreements. We will push for economic development in our community and excellent educational opportunity for our children. We know that the struggle continues.

It is with this reality in mind that we announce with great anticipation our special guests and awardees for our 57th Annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner. We are pleased to announce as we CELEBRATE A CENTURY, the James Weldon Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Reverend Dr. Julius C. Hope, Pastor of the New Grace Missionary Baptist Church in Highland Park and Director of the National Religious Affairs Department of the NAACP. For over 50 years, Dr. Hope has been building bridges, working with faith-based organizations of every denomination and a leader in the civil rights/religious network communities.

Our Great Expectation Award Recipient is Ms. Rhonda Walker, WDIV-TV4. Through her Rhonda Walker Foundation, she has developed mentors and provided inspiration and scholarships for many young women throughout this community. She is a positive force – both on the camera and after she leaves the network. She’s always available to work with young people.

Our second Great Expectation Award Recipient is Attorney Nabih Ayad, Founder of the Arab American Civil Rights League, former Commissioner of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and a most prominent civil rights/social justice attorney. Attorney Ayad has distinguished himself by championing the cause of many who do not have a voice – other than the one he articulates in the court of justice.

We are pleased to present the Mary White Ovington Freedom and Justice Award Recipient Ms. Maureen Taylor, President of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. Ms. Taylor is well-known throughout our state – as a champion for the least of these. She has been a tremendous advocate for children, for justice, for families receiving public assistance and for jobs and education throughout our community.

We have reached beyond our state borders and will present the Ida B. Wells Barnett Freedom and Justice Award for the national work and advocacy of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. Rachel Maddow has been a unique voice in using the national news media to advocate for justice from Michigan to Mississippi, and from New York to California. Most recently, she has led the charge on justice for Michigan and voicing the need to maintain democracy as it appears to be under attack in our state.

This will be a star-studded year as we also welcome legendary attorney and social justice advocate Dr. Charles Ogletree of Harvard University who will come and provide a special word for a new initiative on the issue of the nefarious Stand Your Ground Law.

We invite everyone to join us for this centennial celebration.

The Detroit Branch NAACP is the organization’s largest branch. It holds monthly meetings that are free and open
to the public. For more information please call (313) 871-2087 or visit  Detroit NAACP.

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