By Christopher T. Matthews

One of the highlights of the Toledo’s NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet last Saturday, October 28, 2017, was their selection of three individuals, who have been active and engaged in the fight for civil rights, worker rights, human rights, and or women’s rights. The honorees for the evening were Minister Skip Turner, who also started the Skip Turner Band, Billie Johnson CEO of Northwest Ohio Area Office on Aging, and Alicia Smith Executive Director of the Junction Coalition.

As a former lifetime NAACP member, as well as, a board member, who was committed to the cause of the civil rights movement, Pastor Karen Shepler’s, (1951-2017), memory was acknowledged.

NAACP hosts its 102nd annual Freedom Fund Banquet at Toledo’s Stranahan Theater.
NAACP hosts its 102nd annual Freedom Fund Banquet at Toledo’s Stranahan Theater.
Attendees stand for the opening of the event “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Attendees stand for the opening of the event “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Guest speaker, Ben Jealous former National President of the NAACP for five and one half expressed how important it if is for people to have their eyes on the election, in reference to the educational debt and mass incarceration, in which he coined the Twin Crisis.

Former President Jealous continued to elaborate on the Twin Crisis by saying that, state after state, more money has been progressively spent on mass incarceration, and less and less on public education. “And this translates into a tuition increase from community college to graduate school and you come out of school in debt and you are likely to take on more debt to start a business; that is the challenge of our generation to get our national priority straight, which starts at a state level,” he stressed.

NAACP Toledo Chapter President Ray Wood, welcomes, thanks, and embraces the crowd with warmth and laughter.
NAACP Toledo Chapter President Ray Wood, welcomes, thanks, and embraces the crowd with warmth and laughter.

Toledo Branch President Ray Wood explained that, The Freedom Fund Banquet is a dinner that takes place at every NAACP branch nationwide. It is an occasion for participants and supporters to come together and celebrate the collective successes, discuss plans and other network opportunities.

President Wood also talked a little about how the Freedom Fund Dinner was celebrated In Toledo before the Actual Branch was chartered back 102 years ago, and that the tradition has remained strong since its fruition and manifestation. “There are great opportunities for socializing and fellow-shipping that come along with the experience as well,” said President Wood.

Honoree; Billie Johnson President/CEO of the Northwest Ohio Area Office on Aging.
Honoree; Billie Johnson President/CEO of the Northwest Ohio Area Office on Aging.

Ms. Johnson, President and CEO of the Northwest Ohio Area Office On Aging said, “I am ecstatic! It’s one thing to be recognized by people in my national association, and that I am grateful, but it is really quite an honor and a milestone to be recognized and acknowledge by the NAACP.”

Honoree; Alicia Smith Executive Director of the Junction Coalition.
Honoree; Alicia Smith Executive Director of the Junction Coalition.

Alicia Smith, Executive Director of the Junction Coalition, said that words could not express how appreciative she was that the NAACP honored her.

NAACP would like to thank everybody who has been supportive of his or her efforts, and promises to remain steadfast and immovable with an eye towards 2018.

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