“Thriving Together”- The 50th Annual NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet

This past Saturday, the Albion Branch of the NAACP held their 50th Annual NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet. This community event was a time for reflection, acknowledgement, understanding, and celebration as the evening’s theme was “Thriving Together”. Mistress of Ceremony for the night, Jesse Whitfield, Albion Branch NAACP Executive Committee and Planning Committee Chair, took the event through multiple speakers. The program included greetings from Mayor Pro Tem from the City of Albion, Nora Jackson, Superintendent of Marshall Public Schools, Rebecca Jones, and Albion College’s President, Dr. Wayne Webster.

Amazing vocalists from Albion’s 4-H Creative & Expressive Arts performed including the singing of Lift Every Voice and Sing. Albion Branch NAACP President, Robert Dunklin acknowledged different people in the room, going through visiting dignitaries, elected officials, and more.

The keynote speaker of the night was Dr. Pamela Pugh, President of Michigan State Board of Education, introduced by Yvonne White, Michigan State NAACP President. Dr. Pugh’s long list of accomplishments and passions seem to be only the beginning. Dr. Pugh discussed the history of challenging racial disparities as well as the road ahead to continue the work towards equity. She described the work and role that every person has for change. As Dr. Pugh stated, the work is not finished in challenging the status quo.

The evening also highlighted and celebrated the 2023 NAACP Albion Awardees. London Haynes was the recipient of the 2023 scholarship, awarded to in-coming first year college students. Previous recipients highlighted included the 2020 recipient, Cedriana March, 2021 recipients, Emmy Lou Christensen and Za’Riha Kemp, and the 2022 recipients, Brendan Sims and Ivan Green. Ian and Amber Barbour received the Community Service Business Awards. The Barbours are the owners of Barbour Heating and Air LLC. Tonya Arnett and Ann Kemp both received Community Services Awards for their outstanding work within the Albion community and work within the NAACP.

Needless to say, it was a full evening with passion and drive for change. President Dunklin closed the event by touching a bit more on the commitment of the Albion community to equity with the understanding of “Thriving Together”, thriving with all of the people in the room and all of the people within out community. And as President Dunklin emphasized “there’s room for all of us”.