NAACP Freedom Fund Program Includes Awards and Inspirational Messages

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The NAACP’s Montgomery-Radford City-Floyd County Branch 7092 held its 46th Freedom Fund Program, “We’re Not Going Back,” Oct. 1 at Asbury United Methodist Church and on Facebook Live. Around 40 guests attended in person and over 200 were viewed online.

Master of Ceremonies Doris Bishop Kaine welcomed the participants. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was sung as a duet by Dr. Gena Chandler-Smith and her daughter Miss Nyala Smith, accompanied by Dr. Michael Herndon on piano. An invocation from the Chairman of Religious Affairs, the Reverend Michael Sanborn, followed.

President Deborah Travis brought greetings from the branch and remembered members who passed away over the past year: Patricia Berger, Shirley Berger Lockhart, Isabel Berney, Josie Shotts, Kathrine Robinson and the Reverend Christine Brownlee.

The branch announced Samuel H. Clark Scholarships of $1,000 each awarded to Mrs. Kylee Eaves (Blacksburg High School, attending New River Community College), Mr. Tyree Dobson (Radford High School, attending Virginia Military Institute), Mr. Sean Herndon (Christiansburg High School, attending the University of Richmond), Mr. Darius Wesley-Brubeck (Christiansburg HS, attending the University of Arizona) and Mr. Jaxson Clarke (Christiansburg High School, also attending The Institute Virginia military).

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Youth Council President Miss Tyler Graves brought greetings from the youth. Ms. Janet Hahn has been recognized as a 2022 Fully Paid Silver Life Member by Membership Chair Roxie Palmer.

Following Jason Diggs II’s solo rendition of “Stand,” by Donnie McClurkin, President Travis and Branch Secretary Shirley Akers honored the evening’s patrons and thanked them with baskets of history books. African American and products from African American companies. Benefactors ($1,000 level) were Asbury United Methodist Church, Schaeffer Memorial Baptist Church, and Moog Inc. Supporters ($500 level) were Carilion Clinic-New River Valley, League of Women Voters of Montgomery County, and United Auto Workers Local 2069. ($300 level) were Dr. Susan and Dr. Basil Gooden, Dr. William and Mary Lee Hendricks, Dr. Erogan and Mrs. Gunin Kiran, Dr. James Klagge and Reverend Kathy Carpenter, Reverend Archie Richmond and Dr. Barbara Pendergrass, and St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Michael Herndon performed a piano medley of “Center of My Joy”, “I Love You Lord Today”, and “Amazing Grace”.

Each year, the Nannie B. Hairston Award is presented to a member of NAACP Branch 7092 who has contributed to the branch and served the community in various ways, and who has worked for justice for all in support of the mission of the NAACP. . This year’s award was presented to Mrs. Debbie Sherman-Lee of Christiansburg, presented by Shirley Akers, with assistance from last year’s recipient, Dr. Wornie Reed.

Ms. Sherman-Lee grew up in Christiansburg, briefly attended the Christiansburg Institute, and graduated from Christiansburg High School, later earning a degree in Health and Physical Education. She then taught health and physical education in Montgomery County schools for 36 years until her retirement in 2010. Over the years, she has been a member of the community group and the New Mountain Climbers, and a volunteer at the Christmas store. She was instrumental in the Dialogue on Race and the 100+ Women Who Care—New River Valley. Ms. Sherman-Lee is a longtime member of Asbury United Methodist Church and is currently President of Christiansburg Institute Inc. In 2017, she received the NAACP Branch Community Service Award in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sherman-Lee has two sons and four grandchildren.

Dr. Nathaniel L. Bishop introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, Reverend Dr. William Lee, who retired after 39 years as pastor of Loudon Avenue Christian Church. Lee is the founding director and now treasurer of New Horizons Health Care, a federally licensed health care facility in Roanoke. He has been awarded the Key to the City of Roanoke three times, including 2011 when he was named Roanoke Citizen of the Year.

Reverend Lee’s opening speech was titled “We Will Not Go Back, If…”, in which he set out five conditions that we must meet if we are not to go back to the way things were:

If…we get serious about voting. Reverend Lee took his parents to vote after the poll tax was repeal. A poll worker claimed that since his father was illiterate, he couldn’t vote, but Lee knew he was allowed to read the ballot and help his father.

If…we realize that we are not yet a post-racial society. As far as we’ve come, we still don’t have to equate progress toward our goals upon arrival.

If… we work together and avoid a silo mentality. The 1963 March on Washington brought together 10 different organizations under a “big tent”. This historic event was only possible thanks to the leadership of Bayard Rustin, a former homosexual communist conscientious objector, who worked behind the scenes because the other leaders of the movement were unwilling to bring him to the fore.

If… we include everyone. Reverend Lee stressed the importance of including children and young people, not only for their appearance, but also to take their ideas seriously. He recounted a time when he was concerned that young people in his own congregation were using their phones during his sermon, only to find that they were posting messages on social media about his sermon, spreading his words far beyond. beyond the walls of his church.

If…we have a succession plan. Some of us stay in power too long. It’s important to quit when people still want you to stay. We need to prepare people to continue our work in the future.

Reverend Lee concluded by warning that we could go backwards if we don’t do all we can for all of our children.

President Travis presented the guest speaker with a gift of appreciation from the branch. She then reminded those gathered of the work of the branch this year. For example, our education committee organized two book drives that provided positive self-image books to children in three school districts, and provided local collections of African-American history books to museums in Blacksburg. , Radford and Floyd and the Montgomery Museum of Art & History to make the books more accessible to the community.

The banquet ended with a blessing from Dr. Bishop.

— Submitted by James Klagge

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