NAACP McKeesport honors leaders, volunteers at Freedom Fund dinner
By Michael DiVittorio
Published: Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, 1:31 a.m.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's McKeesport Unit sent a message of self-reliance and community support at Saturday night's 53rd Freedom Fund dinner.
“Take a stand, act responsibly and be accountable,” keynote speaker Tim Stevens repeatedly said during his address at the Westwood Golf Club in West Mifflin.
The organization dates to 1900, and McKeesport's Unit was established in 1960, Stevens noted.
“It is clear that these historic organizations have stood strong over the years,” he said. “They have indeed taken many stands, acted responsibly and have been accountable to the people for whom they advocate.”
Stevens addressed voter ID laws, President Obama, Supreme Court decisions, Trayvon Martin, stand your ground laws, and the political mathematics of getting out the vote regardless of the candidates.
“The more you need, the more you vote,” he said. “The more you vote, the more you get. That doesn't mean that all of a sudden black and brown folks will have all of their issues and requests honored, but we will have our needs addressed on a higher level than we would if we were voting in low numbers, and doing so on a consistent basis.”
The former NAACP Pittsburgh Unit president got the biggest reaction when he talked about parenting and black-on-black violence.
“White people are not coming into our communities and killing us. We are. And we must fight this,” Stevens said. “We must be accountable in how we raise our children, our nieces, our nephews, our grandchildren. We must be accountable to not let them run and gun, and bring the fruits of their illegally gotten gain into our homes. Don't do it.
“All of a sudden your kid is buying you a car and has no job. What does that mean?”
McKeesport Unit president Ocie Paige applauded Stevens' message.
“I didn't expect what he did tonight. He was outstanding,” Paige said of Stevens, and then, to the speaker, “You lift me up, buddy.”
Community leaders were honored and $500 scholarships were awarded to two McKeesport Area High School graduates.
Duquesne City School District board president DeWayne Tucker received the community service award.
The Rev. Archie Perrin Jr., Tucker's pastor at Macedonia Baptist Church, called the former Duquesne policeman “Mr. Duquesne.”
“I'm standing here tonight not for anything that I've done, but I stand here tonight to represent our young people of these communities,” Tucker said. “They are our future, like it or not. We must love them first like the Lord loved us. We need to forget about what they've done, what they didn't do. We need to concentrate on what they can do.”
Evangelist and psalmist Sherry E. Johnson received the Humanitarian Award for her service as a McKeesport Area School District secretary and her involvement in ministry at Trinity Church of God in Christ. She is a graduate of what is now known as the Charlotte M. Nelson Outreach Bible School, Harty Affiliate.
Johnson said her parents are her inspiration.
Allegheny County Health Department's first black plumbing inspector Flawzell Hall, a deacon at Zion Baptist Church, received the Silent Hero Award.
“I don't feel like a hero,” said Hall. “I just try to do the next right thing.”
Dr. William Markle received the Community Organizer Award. Markle is a clinical associate professor of family medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and a senior associate program director of the UPMC McKeesport Family Medicine Residency.
He helped found the Ninth Street Clinic for the uninsured in McKeesport and continues to serve as board president and medical director.
A humble Markle quickly shifted credit for the clinic to its many volunteers.
Jacquelyn Mitchell and Paul Leslie Fields Jr. were awarded the scholarships.
Mitchell is participating in Penn State University's 2+2 program, beginning at the Greater Allegheny campus and continuing a pre-medicine major at the main campus. Fields is a journalism major at Point Park University.
“It's deserving,” Paige said of the recipients.
The unit plans to start a youth group. Call 412-673-2206 for information or to join.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965 or email@example.com.
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