Last Saturday, the Liberty County NAACP celebrated its 66th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet at Club Stewart on Fort Stewart. Organizers say 330 people were in attendance at the fundraiser. The theme for this year’s event was Defeat Hate – Vote.
Liberty NAACP President Graylan Quarterman stated, “This (theme) defines, in no uncertain terms, the climate that we are currently facing. A climate in which we must get the vote out. How do we accomplish this? First, we must realize we are all on the same team. Second, we became tenacious in our efforts to register new voters. Liberty NAACP partnered with the Democratic Coalition and other community partners to register voters. We educate ourselves and others before we vote. And third, we let all of our voices be counted as we cast our votes through either absentee ballot, advanced voting or casting our vote at the poll on Election Day”.
The Reverend Dr. Hermon Scott encouraged each active voter to assist other individuals by helping them obtain an absentee ballot and submit it to be counted, or by providing transportation to another person when they go to vote.
Scott said branch members must consider those who are unable to get to the voting polls on Election Day, individuals who may not have voted in a while, and people who may be facing other challenges that could prevent them from voting in this or upcoming elections.
The Reverend McCrae Mangum, of Thebes AME in Midway, was master of ceremonies and introduced the event’s speaker.
Attorney Willie E. Gary, of Stuart, Fla, was keynote speaker. Gary often “takes on” large corporations on behalf of his clients, according to event organizers.
Gary spoke of being raised in migrant farming communities in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
He told the story of how his migrant worker mother delivered a baby on a Friday and returned to work the following Monday.
Gary attended Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C. where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He attended law school at North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C.
“I wanted to be the best that I could be,” he said.
Gary emphasized the importance of voter participation. He encouraged all voters to educate themselves on issues.
Late branch members were remembered for their contributions, and several individuals were honored during the banquet.
Tribute was made to the late Charles C. Frasier, who was a life member of the local branch and served as a president of Liberty NAACP, and the late Tyrone Adams, a general member of the branch.
Numerous awards were given to honorees in the following categories:
Ralph W. Quarterman Civic Service Award - Karen Jones Jemison
E. B. Cooper Award - Hermina Glass Hill, MHP
W. C. Shipman Trailblazer Award - Dr. Clemontine Freeman Washington
Mattie M. Hicks Amazing Woman Award - Lavonia LeCounte
Youth Award - Jerel Lamar Smith
President’s Award - Natalie M. Hines