The Liberty County Branch of NAACP honored some of its own at its annual Freedom Fund Awards Banquet Friday.
Branch President Graylan Quarterman said the banquet at the John D. Mclver Auditorium in Midway, was to engage county residents and to advance civil rights for all.
“There are individuals in our communities who are doing commendable work,” Quarterman said. “I have no doubt these works are being done with neither the intention for selfish gain nor the need for public recognition.”
He said it is important to recognize public work.
“This recognition is designed to serve a dual purpose. First, as a ‘thank you’ to the individuals in the community who have selflessly given of themselves to great efforts and work, for which we share cause. Lastly, as a sign of hope to those in the community that greatness and great work is still being done amongst, with the invitation to join us and come on board.”
The 2017 honorees are:
Anthony Johnson, who received the E.B. Cooper Educational Leadership Award for demonstrating exemplary educational leadership and service.
The Rev. Hermon Scott received the W.C. Shipman Trailblazer Award for his humanitarian contributions to the community.
Brenda Withers, received the award named after her father, Ralph Quarterman, for civic service and for demonstrating great concern and support for civil justice. She heads the group’s Political Action Committee.
Karen Jones-Jemison received the Mattie Hicks Amazing Woman Award for contributing to the progress and positive growth of the community as NAACP community coordination chairwoman.
Barbara White and Artis Morrison both received president awards. Quarterman said, “Ms. Barbara White is honored for demonstrating great concern and support while working as the NAACP health chair and Mr. Artis Morrison for demonstrating great concern and support, while working as the NAACP second vice president.”
Money raised by the banquet will provide scholarships to high school graduates for leadership training.
Quarterman said, “We find within our normal community, people are eager to invest (provide scholarships) in our youth exclusively to their athletic abilities. The NAACP goes deeper by investing in the minds our youth. This is done through the ACT-SO program which is an academic of the minds and skills program.”
NAACP member the Rev. Ron Harper said, “We give scholarships and that might help them realize that there was something here in Liberty County, via the NAACP, that helped them become successful going to college and furthering their education. Without education, it’s hard to be in a leadership role. The scholarship will remind them to come back and be the leaders in this area or anywhere around the world.”
The evening’s keynote speaker was the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, who delivered the closing prayer at President Barack Obama 2013 Inaugural Prayer Service. Warnock is senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
The NAACP was founded in 1909 in New York City by a group of bi-racial activists who aimed to develop a major organization that would fight racial discrimination. Today, it is one of the nation’s oldest civil rights organizations. In Georgia, the NAACP was organized from 1917-1920. Currently, the Liberty County NAACP chapter is one of over eighty NAACP active units in the state of Georgia.
In regards to change over the years, Morrison, who has been a member of the NAACP for over 20 years, believes communication has been one of the most significant developments in the progress that has been made over the years. Morrison stated, “The communication is better in the chapter and in the community. You have to keep the issues at hand. We address those issues that come before us and I learned a lot when I was working in the Legal Redress because we saw things that was being done, as our President (NAACP) would say, to the least of ours; many people who would not speak out who needed someone to speak for them and be their advocate. That would be my key, to be an advocate to those who can’t speak for themselves.”.
Regarding the NAACP’s relevance today, Quarterman stated, “More recently, the NAACP has focused on discrimination in the private sector, especially, where it hinders economic opportunities for minorities. Voter registration continues to be an important emphasis for the NAACP at the local, state, and national levels. In addition, each local branch provides a point of contact for complaints of racial discrimination at the local level. These complaints can then be investigated by the field and branch services of the national organization, if necessary. Furthermore, NAACP will continue to strive to build unity among a diverse group and society to energize, equip and empower others to become civil rights leaders. NAACP will continue to address issues of police brutality, hate crimes, confederate monuments/flags being displayed in public places and, racial and discriminatory policies. Also, the Liberty County Branch NAACP is gearing up for a push for MWBE inclusion in all contacts that’s funded with tax payers dollars. We will stand firm, steadfast and immovable. We must and will hold fast to the Mission and Vision of the Association, which is, “To ensure the political, education, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination”.
More information about Liberty County’s NAACP branch may be found at http://hinesville.naacp-ga.org/