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Annual NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet Held at Rust College

Annual NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet Held at Rust College
Posted By: Reggie Culpepper on November 03, 2011

Members, friends, and the community of the Marshall County Branch of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) gathered Saturday night, October 29 at Rust College to pay tribute to three special honorees for their contributions to Marshall County.

“Affirming America’s Promise” was the theme of this year’s event, featuring the Rust College Baptist Student Union Gospel Choir and music from Dr. Nellie J. Smith and former First Lady of Holly Springs, Mrs. Luberta Smith. Words of greeting and occasion were presented by Mrs. Marketta Liggins Steward, Chair of the Education Committee, Rust College NAACP President Cleavon Matthews, and Rev. Leona Harris, who serves on the Life Membership Committee.

Mrs. Eloise McClinton, Executive Director of the Institute of Community Services, Inc. (ICS) in Holly Springs, gave an inspiring keynote address. She urged the audience to “answer the call” to support the purpose and efforts of the NAACP.

“It was the talent and tenacity of supporters that changed lives and changed negative aspects of our society,” said McClinton. “We need to get out of the ‘**** zone’. Go vote, get others to vote… make a change in the lives of the next generation.”

“Answer the call for the future of our children,” she said.

Mrs. Mozell Kelly, Freedom Fund Banquet Committee Chair, along with 1st Vice President Rep. Kelvin O. Buck, presented special awards to three figures of the community for their outstanding work in Education, Spiritual Leadership and Business.

“It takes everybody to really make a community grow and move forward,” said Buck when presenting the award in Education to Dr. Irene Walton-Turnage, Superintendent of the Holly Springs School District. “She came into a school district that, at the time, was working to find its place. She is totally dedicated and committed in investing time into the young people of Holly Springs.”

In the Spiritual Leadership category, the award was presented to Rev. Samuel A. Phillips, Pastor of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church.

“The saying goes, longevity has its place,” said Buck.



“I don’t think this statement could be more fitting for this recipient.” Rev. Phillips, who announced he was 86 years-old, has been a spiritual leader for more than 50 years, and several members of his congregation were in attendance to show support.

“NAACP has served as a light in many dark places. Please allow me to thank you for your hard work. We are shaped for service,” Rev. Phillips said.

In the category of Small Business, the award was presented to Ms. Lue Cathey, owner of “The Basket Island” on North Memphis Street in Holly Springs. Mrs. Cathey thanked the NAACP and the community for supporting her business, encouraging them to please continue to patronize her business.

“She is always working,” Buck said of Ms. Cathey. “Any time, you can find her outside her business working to make things look a little better.”

Two special NAACP awards were given to Mr. Eremosele C. Okhiria and his sister, Miss Jada A. Okhiria for establishing their Junior Life Memberships in the NAACP.

In a special presentation, Ms. Brenda Dupree, postmaster of the Holly Springs Post Office and postal employees from Holly Springs, Red Banks, and Mount Pleasant displayed the new Barbara Jordan Stamp as the 34th stamp in the U.S. Post Office’s Black Heritage Series. Barbara Jordan was a lawyer and educator who served as a Texas state representative from 1972-1978 and was the first woman ever to be elected to the Texas Senate (1966). Ms. Dupree gave framed photographs of Barbara Jordan to Dr. Paul Lampley, President of the Marshall County NAACP, Dr. David L. Beckley, President of Rust College, Ms. Johnnie Bagley, Vice Mayor of Holly Springs, and Rev. Leona Harris, curator of the Ida B. Wells Museum in Holly Springs.

Founded February 12, 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization. Its more than half-million members and supporters throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, campaigning for equal opportunity and conducting voter mobilization. The Marshall County Branch of the NAACP was established January 3, 1966.

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