"The Struggle Continues .... Speaking Truth To Power"
This was the theme for the 32nd Annual Rocky Mount Branch NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet that was held on Friday, June 10, 2005 7:00 PM at the R.T. McCarter Center Rocky Mount NC.
The Master of Ceremony was 3rd Vice Chair George Cooper. The Presentation of the Colors were done by the Rocky Mount Police Department followed by the Invocation by President Emeritus Rev. Elbert Lee former President of the branch followed by the welcome by Mary Hedgepeth Secretary.
Curmilus Dancy II 2nd Vice President gave the occasion for the evening by letting everyone know that the purpose of the fundraiser was to celebrate, recognize and to appreciate individuals and all other groups that fall in the categories chosen by this branch who have played a role in keeping hope alive through the mission of the NAACP.
A solo followed by Rachael Howard accompanied by her mother followed by the blessing of the dinner by Rev. Lee.
After the dinner followed by a solo by Stephanie Frinks President Andre' Knight came forward and presented the humanitarian Award to Joyce Dickens President and CEO Rocky Mount Edgecombe Community Development Corp. for her work with Economic Development in Rocky Mount. Andre also awarded Mattie Mozzell for being the mother of the community in South Rocky Mount and her boldness for speaking out against the injustices. He also awarded her granddaughter Tekyia Mozzell for her hard work inspite of her illness at such a young age. Teykia is a student at East Carolina University. Andre completed his awards presentation by honoring Teresa Hinton the banquet coordinator for her hard work with making the banquet a success.
M.C. George Cooper did the honor of awarding Meadow Brook Meat Company (MBM Corp.) with the business of the year award. He also talked about how the employees talked so highly of their employer. It is evident of how they treat their employees because the very 1st employee a black male still works with the company and was in attendance at the banquet.
Mattie Hinton 1st Vice President recognized the Rocky Mount NAACP 2005 mother of the year Precilla Brown of North End Missionary Baptist Church.
Councilman Reuben Blackwell introduced the speaker of the hour the Rev. Charles Lee White, Jr., Director for the Southeast Region of the NAACP which includes 7 states, the NAACP's largest region. He is the founder of the Brothers United for Change of Hollywood and Clover South Carolina, a ministry dedicated to "Saving Black Boys: One at a Time." This ministry has gained national attention and annually sponsors the Black Male Conference, which attracts over 1,500 participants each year.
Rev. White began his speech with, "If you can't stand the heat, you need to get out of the kitchen." He greeted the audience in the name of all those such as Megar Evers, Malcolm, Martin and all those who gave their blood, sweat and tears just for us to gather here on tonight. He said we came from a noble group of people who had to do what they had to do in order for us to survive.
White said say what you want to about the NAACP but if white folks mess with you there are 2 people they are going to call on and that is Jesus and the NAACP. He said he was tickled to death to be in Rocky Mount to the esteem president Andre Knight and Knight is a jewel in our midst. White said Knight is not afraid to take a stand and by doing so he is an easy target because he is out front but we must circle the wagon and build an intelation around him so that when the enemy raises its ugly head you can say the devil is a liar.
White also recognized Yolanda Thigpen president of the Edgecombe County Branch for being the youngest president across the nation.
White thanked the vice president Mattie Hinton for her detail of getting in Rocky Mount along with the executive committee. He thanked the corporate sponsors because he said without them the banquet would not be a success. He thanked the other supporters, friends and rest of the people who all of them were not present for the good of everybody.
White said we are gathered here tonight under the civil rights banner and he understood that that this is not everybody's calling because some do not want to get down with civil rights movement. He thanked them for coming and paying their money. He said if you can't get with us then don't try to hinder us.
White said we are in a serious time when we are not just fighting against flesh and blood but against wickedness in very high places. He said we must declare we are not going backwards. He said that the public school system is more racially and economically segregated now since Brown vs Board of Edcuation. The recruiting grounds are not for education but for sending young black men to prison. White said that even the black church that used to be the most sacred institution in our community is looking for hand outs from the government. He said was it not Jesus who said to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and to shelter the homeless and etc.
White said some of us want to do away with social programs because many got caught up in the last election thinking it was about gay marriages and abortions. He touched on Social Security and said if Bush want to overhaul something he need to overhaul health care. He said as soon as they do away with Social Security and make it an investment thing, white men are going to get rich.
White said the country is at war and everyone need to understand that black folks have always fought in wars dating back to the Battle of Lexington. He said we were the Tuskegee Airman in World War II and over represented in the Vietnam War. He said we are fighting the War on Drugs in the black community which is racial profiling. He said we have chosen cell blocks over classrooms.
White said he was asked the question during the banquet what is the number one problem facing the black community and he said it was literally the problem of the endangered species of the African American Male. He said it is a conspiracy. He said but black men have a responsibility to their community. He said we need to stop talking about our kids like they don't exist. He said they are not lost and we need to stop and help them. He said that some Negroes roll up their windows and lock their doors but they are our responsibility and we have got to reach back and do something for them. He said black men have got to look the young black boys in the eyes and tell them I care whether you live or die. He said they need to be told that manhood is measured from the hips up and not the waste down. He said what makes a man is when you he takes care of his children, respect the women and what they give back to their community. He said the problem is we have so many overgrown men walking around. He said that if cats can take care of their kittens and dogs can take care of their pups he don't understand why black men can't take care of their children.
White told the women that he was not going to let them off the hook. He said you are walking around here talking about you can't find a good man. He said the women are raising their daughter and do not make the boys cook nor clean. He said women won't make the boys go to church. He said this was not allowed in his house. White said that his mom was a single parent and raised 18 other siblings after he and his siblings left home. He said his mom didn't have her children out of wedlock, his daddy just left home. He said his mom recognized that she needed a man to help out so therefore his uncles were always at their house. He told the women in the room that yes you can do a good job but still there is something missing because it is some things that the boys need to hear coming from a man. He said that the women need to stop acting like teenagae pregnancy is something new but if the truth be known some of the women in the room had a child when they were a teenager. He said instead of talking about the little girls they need to talk to them and tell them I know you made a mistake but look at me I made it in spite of. He said tell them they talked about them in the church but it is okay. He told the women that it is best to have your own than to put up with a sorry man.
White closed out with a story about a dog named Rex. Rex had been chained for so long that he did not realize that he had been freed. He asked the question is your name Rex? He said when you go home tonight and close your blinds ask yourself is your name Rex? He said when you go on your job and you are required to accept things just as they are, ask yourself is your name Rex? He said when you go around others and they accuse you of being too black, ask yourself is your name Rex? He said when we are around people and they dare to ask us questions because it deals with race, does our name become Rex? He said do you dare to speak truth to power and let the chips fall where they lay or does your name become Rex? He said are you more concerned about your social status and being in good graces with the good ole boys and girls or does your name become Rex? He said some here tonight are living just like Rex and some have bonded together and formed a group called the Rexettes. He said there are some of you who have memberships in the NAACP who will come to a Freedom Fund Dinner and will not show up at a City Council meeting because your name is Rex. He said as long as the fraternities and other organizations stay social you will attend but when they decide they want to take a stand, does your name becomes Rex. He said that from the last time some of us are living in this bondage because we remember we tried to speak up and the pain from the chain keep on holding us. We must speak truth to power.
Hubert D. Pope of H.D. Pope Funeral Home Inc. delivered a powerful charge to the community pointing out key issues in the Rocky Mount area. He said that the people in Rocky Mount is paying two mortgages the first being their true mortgage and the second being their utility bills that are more than their mortgage. He said that people used to use lead bullets to kill but now they use lead pencils as they print things in the paper on a personal level such as how they are always targetting our president trying to discredit him.
Evelyn Wilson Membership Chair said the banquet is not only a fundraiser but gives you an opportunity to join the NAACP. She said we don't want to have anyone in this meeting tonight to be named Rex. She said ask yourself when you get home is your name Rex and if it is not to give her a call.
Andre Knight President of the Rocky Mount Branch thanked everyone for sitting during the duration of the banquet. He said he see quite a few Rexes in the room but his name is not Rex. He said we have heard the word tonight. He said you have the opportunity tonight to change your name and to join the NAACP. He said let us all take the challenge back to our homes and do what is right.
President Emeritus Rev. Elbert Lee closed out the evening with the benediction after sharing some senior moments about his tenure of serving as president of the Rocky Mount Branch for 28 years.