‘Fight forward’: Salisbury-Rowan NAACP Freedom Fund banquet highlights ongoing work for equality – Salisbury Post


SALISBURY – Danielle Sydnor of the Rise Together Innovation Center says the death of George Floyd in 2020 and the pandemic have shown that it is time for “the radical imagination” in the continued fight for equality.

Sydnor was the keynote speaker on Thursday at the Salisbury-Rowan NAACP’s 27th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet, which was held virtually. This year’s event conveyed the message of “fighting for justice, equality and change”.

Sydnor said her mother taught her from an early age to stand up for herself and stay genuine and true to herself. This is also what Sydnor instilled in his sons. She shared the story of a recent interaction with one of her son’s teachers who reached out to Sydnor with concerns that he was acting poorly and less focused in class. Sydnor said the teacher said she was trying to direct Noah to other kids who should be her friends. The children were mostly white, rather than children who looked more like him, Sydnor said.

“I listened to his explanation for a while,” Sydnor said. “But then I had to ask her to take a break and hear what she was saying to me as the mother of a young black man. That she told me that my son’s choice to be a teenager was somehow related to his color.

Sydnor said she could have reacted in different ways, but chose to speak with the teacher and challenge her to think about how she, as a teacher, could perpetuate “whatever the problem she was trying to correct ”. Additionally, Sydnor wrote a letter to the school administration about her dissatisfaction with the way the teacher chose to approach her son’s social interactions.

“It’s helping people understand that advocacy isn’t something someone else does for us,” Sydnor said. “We learn advocacy, in my opinion, by the things we are willing to do for ourselves.”

Sydnor said she believed the teacher had Noah’s best interests at heart, but it was an example of the need to help allies better understand what it means to fight for fairness, justice and change.

The events of 2020, she said, hinted at a new kind of work being done by people who want to be allies in the fight for racial equality. She said part of this requires giving people “as much grace as we want to receive.”

She also called for “radical imagination” so as not to spoil the opportunity and momentum of the current movement.

“When we fight, we win,” Sydnor said.

Livingstone College Public Relations Director Kimberly Harrington, who was the mistress of ceremonies, kicked off the virtual banquet by reciting a poem titled “Lord, Why Did You Make Me Black?” By RuNett Nia Ebo. Some stanzas of the poem state:

Black is the color of a bruised eye
When someone is hurt.
Black is the color of darkness.
Black is the color of dirt.
How come my bone structure is so thick?
are my hips and cheeks high?
How come my eyes are brown
and not the color of the sky of the day?

Why do people think I’m useless?
How come I feel so used?
Why do some people see my skin and think I should be abused?

Later in the poem, God answers:

Get on your knees and look around.
Tell Me, what do you see?
I did not make you in the image of darkness.
I made you the Likeness of ME!

I made you the color of coal
From where are formed beautiful diamonds.
I made you the color of oil,
The black gold that keeps people warm.

A handful of Salisburians have received awards for their support and dedication to the mission of the NAACP. City Manager Lane Bailey received the Community Appreciation Award for her “dedication, love, compassion and strength” to the mission of the NAACP, said Gemale Black, president of the Salisbury-Rowan NAACP, who also praised Bailey for his retirement. Bailey will retire in December after having been a manager since 2015.

Additionally, Salisbury Communications Specialist Kaisha Brown received the Lady Justice Membership Award, one of the local branch’s most prestigious awards given to a woman who dedicated her time and energy to the NAACP.

Finally, Livingstone College graduate Courtney Sawyer was named Woman of the Year for her leadership, service and fundraising efforts. In 2015, Sawyer was named Miss United Negro College Fund at Livingstone College and is the Founder and Director of Woman Up Wednesdays, an organization that aims to encourage and empower students in the Rowan-Salisbury school system.

Also during the virtual banquet, Mayor Karen Alexander of Salisbury, Mayor Jonathan Williams of Spencer and Mayor Barbara Mallett of East Spencer all recited proclamations honoring the 27th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet. Mallett said during his recital of the proclamation that significant strides had been made for racial equality, but there was still work to be done to ensure living wages, affordable housing, accessible health care and a fair criminal justice system. She also denounced the United States Capitol riot on January 6, making a drastic difference in the treatment of those responsible compared to whether those people were predominantly blacks and browns.

“While racists and other white supremacist groups joined in the assault on our core national democracy, it was actually a showcase of how brown and black Americans are treated differently from their own. white counterparts, ”Mallett said. “Can you imagine how different America’s reaction would have been if the attackers had been brown and black Americans, not whites?” “

Mallett added that people don’t have to look too far back in history to see the unequal treatment, citing the amount of protection the Capitol has been protecting amid the protests for racial justice in the summer of 2020 compared to the lack of of protection during the insurrection of January 6.

“Freedom is a bloody affair. Justice is a rocky road, ”Mallett said. “The way forward must be in the streets. Using our influence, move to the rooms where decisions are made. Be at the table, not on the menu. Change hurts. The causes are disturbing.

Mallett also praised the City of Salisbury for its leading efforts to promote change for the sake of equality.

Dr Anthony Davis, Director of Operations at Livingstone College, issued a call to action, which was simply aimed at supporting the NAACP. Recalling a quote from civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., Davis said, “Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle.”

Davis called the NAACP the “biggest and oldest civil rights organization, meanest and boldest, most loved and hated, most feared and revered, most insulted and most discussed ”in America. Davis cited a story of the NAACP speaking out and doing the heavy lifting to talk about change, such as ending the Montgomery bus boycott, ending segregation in schools, and the trial of George Zimmerman, which was found not guilty of the murder of 17- year-old Trayvon Martin in 2013. Davis said despite the acquittal, the trial would never have taken place without speaking out from the NAACP.

“History has shown us that we need the NAACP,” Davis said. “It’s an organization that has done so much with so little. “

He called on viewers to consider supporting the NAACP because “we can’t wait for someone to need it.”

The full banquet can be viewed by visiting facebook.com/NaacpOfRowan/.

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