NAACP South Brevard Branch Freedom Fund Banquet “Steadfast, Immovable, & We Are Still Linked Together”
By Rev. Ralph T. Newell
MELBOURNE – One hundred and nine years the National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People (NAACP) has led the fight for Justice and Civil Rights. Fifty nine years ago the NAACP movement was birthed in Melbourne, Florida through the vision of Deacon Chauncey McClain of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. Deacon McClain asked permission to take up a ten cent offering which would be sent to the late Mr. Harry T. Moore of Mims, Florida who was serving in the capacity of President of the Florida State Conferences of the NAACP.
This area NAACP is now known as the South Brevard Branch and has been through many ups and downs over the years as its members and supporters have fought Injustices through sit-ins, housing, job inequity, education etc. This Branch makes a very bold statement about its relationship with the National NAACP “We Are Still Linked Together” and that was part of the theme for the February 23, 2018 Freedom Fund Banquet and now for the rest of the theme “Steadfast” 1909 – “Immovable” 2018.
The Hilton Melbourne Rialto Ballroom was packed to capacity with supporters, including religious, civic, political, youth, various nationalities, and cultures etc. President James H. Minus and the Freedom Fund Chairperson Marva Adell Murray, the committee persons and members did their work exceedingly well. Two well versed men of Melbourne were key leaders of the evening, Mr. Eugene C. Johnson South Brevard Branch NAACP Armed Services/VA Chairperson who presented the Master of Ceremonies Mr. Charles Jackson, Sr., both men are avid historians of Crane Creek/Melbourne.
I observed and listened to comments pertaining to the program and it was noted that the women who were not officers in the NAACP were featured. Mrs. Jewel Spradley of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, Melbourne, gave the Invocation and Mrs. Gertrude Laws of Greater Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church, Melbourne, read the Scripture, from Romans 12:5-12. Ms. Nina Jones sang the National Anthem and led all in the Negro National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. Mrs. Tramella Woods of Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, Palm Bay Blessed the Food. These three Churches have been stalwart supporters of the NAACP since its beginning in Melbourne.
The Welcome and Act-So Membership Appeal was made by Ms. Tabitha Hadley, South Brevard Branch ACT-SO Alumnus. Ms. Hadley excelled in the ACT-SO when she was a participant. This is a youth program of the NAACP offered to youth 9th-12th grade. It is the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technilogical, and Scientific Olympics. It is informally called the “Olympics of the Mind” and she challenged parents and students to engage in this process. She ended her challenge with an African Proverb that she says is her motto for her college education and for team work; “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
The Keynote Speaker Sheriff Jerry Demings, Sherriff and Constitutional Officer Orange County, Florida was Introduced by his wife. Representative Valdez Venita “Val” Demings, Florida House of Representatives, 10th Congressional District. “Sheriff Demings focused in on the issue of gun violence in America and urged all politicians and law enforcement persons in attendance to join him and get out of their comfort zones. Let’s help change the “status quo” by changing laws that will ultimately save lives and get guns out of the hands of those who will not act responsibly. Do not arm teachers in the class rooms but add more security for the schools and other facilities. Let’s focus on teaching our youth the true values and morals of life along with the principles of getting a higher education. We need to continue one of the tenets of President Obama’s Administration and that’s the Proclamation of Hope. Let us keep the youth involved in the affairs of life and government and the NAACP can be trusted to do that.”
Mr. Jordin Tylor Chandler, a powerful youth, gave the membership appeal for persons to join the NAACP local branch in the struggle for total equality. His caption phrase was “if not now when?” He challenged the youth, join! Middle age! Join! Seniors, Join! If not now when?
Mrs. Melvina Croskey, Branch Life Membership Chairperson, validated the importance of being a member of the NAACP when she announced that 8 persons were receiving their Silver Life Membership: Judge Rhonda Babb; Bennie Jackson, Jr.; Dianne G. Jackson; Graham Robert Johnson; Rev. George White; Joanna A. (Browne-Marke) Golding; Kenneth Broomfield and Marva Adell Murray. Each of these persons have made the necessary physical and monetary sacrifices to become life members.
Mr. James Minus, President of the South Brevard Branch of the NAACP thanked all for the support given during 2017 and reported that the struggle still is not over even though many things have been accomplished. I quote from his printed opening statement: “The civil rights battle is uphill; let us engage and encourage our youth, in civic engagement, black on black crime is still prevalent in our communities, our jails continue to fill with people of color, parental engagement with school and youth has declined, our interaction with law enforcement needs attention, there are tremendous economic challenges and people of color feel that their vote doesn’t count. Because civil advocacy is our primary focus, we need others like you to help face these challenges.”
South Brevard Branch NAACP #5115 meets every 2nd and 4th Monday @ 7:00PM at the Joseph N Davis Community Center (Formerly Grant Street Community Center) 2547 Grant Street, Melbourne, Florida, 32901. You may contact the Branch for membership at SBB NAACP Post Office Box 2031 Melbourne, Fl 32902