NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet set for Oct. 3

The Sampson County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) invites the public to join them in celebrating their 15th annual Freedom Fund Banquet, which is set for Saturday, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m., at the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center, located at 414 Warsaw Road, Clinton.

Founded in 1909, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization remains the strongest national voice in the fight for equality on every front. Historically, the NAACP’s progress has been due to its many members who are organized into state and local branches, working to carry out the aims of the national organization.

Additionally, it was the NAACP, acting as an advocate on every front, that led the way in the assault against bigotry and injustice, exposing the eroding and oppressive effects of prejudice and Jim Crow, while opening doors in the process. In the words of the past president and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, “Because Americans come in all colors—brown, white, black, red and yellow—everyone who shares our commitment is not only welcome at the NAACP, but essential to the success of our work.”

The 2015 Freedom Fund Banquet keynote speaker will be the Honorable Paul A. Hardison, the first African-American Chief District Court Judge of the Fourth Judicial District, presiding in Onslow, Jones, Duplin, and Sampson Counties. While commenting on the historic swearing in ceremony in Jacksonvillle on Jan. 2, 2015, Hardison said, “I am excited. I’m humbled by this opportunity and it’s good to see the people showing up for support.”

Hardison, a native of Sneads Ferry, joined the U. S. Army after graduating high school in 1970, being honorably discharged in 1975. After receiving his undergraduate degree, he obtained his law degree from North Carolina Central University. In 1984, he became a practicing attorney as a partner in the Law Firm of Moore, Wright and Hardison. And from 1986-1990, he maintained a private practice, while serving as vice chairman of the Onslow County Board of Education.

It was in 1990 that Hardison was first elected a District Court Judge in the Fourth Judicial District, a position he still maintains today, but as Chief District Court Judge, following the retirement of former Chief Judge Leonard W. Thagard, at the end of 2014. While appointing Hardison as the Chief District Judge, Chief Justice Mark Martin remarked, “Judge Hardison has served with distinction as district court judge, and I am confident he will provide strong leadership necessary for the successful administration of the district courts in all the counties of the district.”

Hoping that the 2015 Freedom Fund Banquet will be a huge success, the organizers of the event are expecting to receive support from every sector of the community life, including governmental, religious, civic and business groups. The banquet committee members also stated, “We are encouraging churches, organizations, local businesses, political leaders and individuals to purchase tables that seat 10. This will allow groups and individuals to sit together at the event.”

If you have concerns or questions, please contact NAACP President Lee Byam at 910-990-0873 or banquet chair Mrs. JoAnn Howard at 910-564-6941. You can purchase tickets from any member of the NAACP, also.

The Sampson County Branch of the NAACP meets the fourth Monday of each month at First Baptist Church, 900 College St., in Clinton.