The Sedalia-Pettis County Branch of the NAACP will host its annual Freedom Fund Banquet next weekend, which will focus on respect and on individuals working together.
The event is at a new location this year, at First Christian Church, 200 S. Limit Ave. Sedalia-Pettis County Branch NAACP President Rhonda Chalfant said the annual event is for “NAACP branches all over the nation.”
“They are not all at the same time, but every branch is supposed to have one,” she added.
This year’s theme is “Everyone Working Together.”
“Several years ago I participated in a couple rallies,” Chalfant said. “One in Atlanta, and one in Washington, D.C., and both of them were focused on the importance of people working together to achieve the goals of a fair and equitable society in which all people were respected.
“The rally in Atlanta, featured representatives from Native American groups, representatives from Asian groups, Hispanic groups, labor unions, the poor,” she added. “With the idea that if all of the minority or disenfranchised groups would work together we really could make a change in society.”
She noted that the rally in Washington, D.C., focused on the same concept.
“Given the divisiveness that seems to dominate our society in the last few years, we thought this would be a good theme to revisit,” Chalfant said.
Speaking this year is Dr. Arthur Kemp, a psychology professor from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.
“He comes very highly recommended,” Chalfant noted.
Along with a catered meal and the speaker, the event will also include an Unsung Hero Award, several musical performances and two scholarship awards.
“We are giving the scholarships to two bright and deserving students,” Chalfant said.
Proceeds from the event will go back into the local NAACP branch to promote equality in the surrounding community.
“It will be a good meal, and good entertainment, and an interesting and thought provoking message,” Chalfant said of the banquet. “It allows us to continue our work. In addition to giving two scholarships each year, this year we worked with Diversified Community Outreach and sent a truck load of water to Flint, Michigan.
“We continue to work with the people at the (Pettis County) Jail to make sure that the inmates are treated with respect and dignity,” she added. “That does not mean special privileges that just means human respect.”
She added that they also have “made a presence” this year at the State General Assembly opposing a bill that affects not only ethic minorities, but also women, the elderly, and the LGBTQ community.
“The NAACP has been a consistent presence at the General Assembly,” Chalfant said. “I attended one of the hearings and press conferences there. So, we are working with state government and monitoring the bills that come up.
“We do things that we hope will make our community better,” she added. “Our primary emphasis is on ending discrimination against anyone who may have been discriminated against.”
The public is invited to attend the Freedom Fund Banquet at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 29 at First Christian Church, 200 S. Limit Ave., which has a handicap entrance on the west side of the building. The cost is $25 per person and tickets may be purchased in advance from any NAACP officer, at the door or by calling 826-5592.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or on Twitter @flbemiss.