Detroit Branch NAACP, celebrating 100 years

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    lead photo_NAACP_A1_April_18_MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow among honorees at this year’s dinner 

    The year marks 100 years since the founding of the Detroit Branch NAACP.  It is a time of celebration, reflecting the victories and challenges of the organization and the people it represents.  The organizations salutes its predecessors who 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,” said Detroit NAACP President Rev. Wendell Anthony. 

    “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.”

    The Detroit branch also recognizes the work of Judge Damon R. Keith for his counsel and support of the branch over the years. The Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner is one of the signature events of the Detroit Branch NAACP,  and it is grateful to the likes of Dr. Lionel Swan, Dr. Alfred Thomas, D.T. Burton, former Detroit Branch Treasurer M. Kelly Fritz, former Branch President Edward M. Turner and Arthur L. Johnson along with 59 members of the Detroit Medical Society who became the Freedom Fund Dinner’s first 59 subscribers. 

    The Detroit Branch remains the only branch in the nation to have the privilege of hosting presidents, secretaries of state, international dignitaries for Fight For Freedom Dinner.

    The organization provided over $1 million dollars in food, medicine, cargo vans, and agricultural materials to the nations of Rwanda and Zaire during their tribal conflicts with the aid of John Conyers, Jr. and President Bill Clinton during their tribal conflicts. 

    “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 continue to 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 that the Detroit Branch  NAACP announce its special guests and awardees for the 57th Annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner as it celebrates a century:  the James Weldon Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award to Rev. 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. 

    The Great Expectation Award Recipient is Rhonda Walker, WDIV-TV4 news anchor. 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 is always available to work with and for young people. 

    The 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 prominent civil rights/social justice attorney.  

    The Detroit NAACP is pleased to present the Mary White Ovington Freedom and Justice Award to Maureen Taylor, president of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.  She is well known throughout our state as a champion for those in need. She has been a tremendous advocate for children, for justice, for families receiving public assistance and for jobs and education throughout our community. 

    The Detroit NAACP has reached beyond state borders to present the Ida B. Wells Barnett Freedom and Justice Award to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.  She has been a strong and effective voice in using the national news media to advocate for justice from Michigan to Mississippi, and from New York to California. 

    Anthony says this year’s event will welcome legendary attorney and social justice advocate Dr. Charles Ogletree of Harvard University who will provide a special word for a new initiative on the issue of the nefarious “Stand Your Ground” law. 

    The 57th Annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner will take place on Sunday, May 6, at Cobo Conference Center. For ticket information, call (313) 871-2087 or visit


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