58th Annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner Theme: “Freedom Must Never Be Defaulted, It Must Forever Be Exalted!”
April 28, 2013 5:00PM Cobo Conference Center
For ticket information please call (313) 871-2087
The Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner of the Detroit Branch NAACP was launched in April 1956 under the leadership of Branch President Edward M. Turner, Arthur L. Johnson and Dr. Lionel F. Swan, co-chairman. Today, The Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner is the largest sit down dinner of its kind in the world. Serving approximately 10,000 guests with a first class meal, world-class entertainment, and some of the world’s renowned keynote address speakers.
In response to the direct appeals of Drs. Alfred Thomas, D.T. Burton, Lionel Swan and the Detroit Branch Officers, Turner, Johnson M. Kelly Fritz, who was serving as Branch Treasurer, and 59 members of the Detroit Medical Society became the Freedom Fund Dinner’s first subscribers, thereby guaranteeing the success of this significant new venture. Members of the medical society had been called to a special meeting in the Holiday Room of the Detroit’s famed Gotham Hotel.
The Freedom Fund Dinner was founded in a period of renewed national hope and determination among Black Americans, even in the face of continuing racial violence and tragedy. The National Chairman of the NAACP, Dr. Channing H. Tobias, had called for the establishment of a one million dollar fighting fund for freedom.
At this time in Detroit housing segregation, job discrimination and police brutality against Blacks were fixed patterns in the city’s way of life.
As the tentative plans for the Freedom Fund Dinner were being developed, a brutal racial killing took the life of Dr. Thomas Brewer, a prominent physician in Columbus, Georgia. Dr. Brewer’s immediate family and close relatives were very active and well known in Detroit. In part, motivated by the tragic murder of Dr. Brewer, Black physicians as a group in Detroit came together to support the Detroit Branch NAACP Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner.
The first dinner (held at the Latin Quarter) was a magnificent success. At $100 per couple, with 300 subscribers approximately, $30,000 was donated.
Beginning with Thurgood Marshall as the first keynote speaker, the Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner has brought to its platform a virtual constellation of distinguished speakers and entertainers, among them, Barbara Jordan, Roy Wilkins, Howard Thurman, Senator Edward Brooks, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, Governor Mario Cuomo, Senator Ted Kennedy, Chief Justice Earl Warren, Joint Chief of Staff, Chairman, General Colin Powell, Ron Brown, Kweisi Mfume, Lee Iaccoca, Sammy Davis, Jr., Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker, Dick Gregory, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Vice President Al Gore, President Bill Clinton, Danny Glover, Julian Bond,Senator Hillary Clinton, then Senator Barack Obama, Dr. Manning Marable, Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Rev. Dr. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Congressman John Lewis and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.