The overriding message of the keynote address at the 49th annual Freedom Fund Banquet for African American voters and others was complacency would bring terrible consequences for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The event was held Saturday by the Surry County Chapter of the NAACP #5459 in the J.J. Jones Alumni Auditorium. Its theme was “Riding Out The Storm.”
The keynote speaker was the Rev. Kojo Nantambu, who is president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Chapter of the group, and he was also one of those at the forefront of efforts to achieve racial equality in North Carolina, including the Wilmington Ten era of the early 1970s.
“We want you to get excited about civil rights, equality and freedom,” said Nantambu. “This is a very important time in our country’s history. Many out there do not realize we are in a storm.” He explained a backlash against the Civil Rights Act had been “brewing for 40 years” and said challenges to affirmative action were taking their toll.
“How can it be unconstitutional, unethical, to treat everybody the same,” Nantambu said, adding that the arguments against Affirmative Action based on qualified whites being denied jobs being given to less qualified blacks were baseless, with “not one iota of fact” or a documented case to prove the claim.
Citing a mindset of control by keeping people ignorant he used voucher legislation as an example of a dismantling of public education.
“They have almost destroyed public schools already,” said Nantambu. “If people who have the money to do what they want to, then don’t take my (tax) money.”
He also said political recent voter ID registration laws and political redistricting were little more than denying voters a voice and gerrymandering. He told the group they have to vote every time the polls are open and not just wait for a presidential election. Nantambu told them it was their responsibility to vote and support people who represented citizens and not special interests.
“This is becoming a country for the wealthy and by the wealthy by the demise of the lesser,” Nantambu said. “We should all want to live in a community that believes in the common good. We have a hard job ahead and a lot of work to do.”
He urged participation in Moral Monday demonstrations and said NAACP efforts had recruited 147 organizations who support the effort of fusion politics which is built upon the principle of “all men are created equal.” He noted the protests began in a predominantly liberal House and Senate.
Nantambu then reminded the audience a complete study of Holy Scripture calls for them to go to the battle with the knowledge God will help them win and they must fight for themselves. He called for them to join the Moral Mondays movement in Raleigh and not sit quietly in their homes and churches.
“We want to overcome; so you want to vote. We gotta vote,” said Nantambu. “We can win. Don’t be pessimistic, fatalistic and lose hope.”
Local NAACP President Faye Carter introduced the keynote speaker. Rodney Rosser served as the master of ceremony with Nell Hatcher and Anise Hickman serving as hostesses for the banquet.
The purpose of the Freedom Fund Banquet in Mount Airy is to boost a fund typically used to assist citizens with legal representation or other needs and operating costs of the local NAACP chapter.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.