The Ann Arbor Branch of the NAACP held its annual Freedom Fund Dinner Sunday, Nov. 4 at the Ann Arbor Sheraton Hotel. About 300 people gathered to hear about African American and civil rights history and achievements in its “journey to freedom.”
The evening’s freedom journey included listening to the emancipation proclamation, honoring the longest-serving member of the local NAACP, Mrs. Joseph Mhoon, and learning about the evolution, financial success, and destruction of Black Wall Street.
The majority of the time, however, was spent on the 125 AAPS high-school youth in attendance being honored for their scholastic achievements over the last year. “Every branch has a Freedom Fund Dinner, said NAACP Officer, Susan Baskett, “at our dinner, we focus on students.”
The panel of speakers that addressed the youth, their families, and their extended community included Mayor John Hieftje, AAPS Superintendent Dr. Jeanice Kerr Swift, and a keynote address from the President of the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Black Chamber of Commerce, Anistia Thomas. Each honored student was recognized in a formal, graduation-style ceremony with a certificate and a copy of the DVD Freedom’s Song: 100 Years of African American Struggle and Triumph.
“I came out to support Pioneer High students and other students in the district, said Pioneer Principal, Lisa Anglin. “It’s important for them to see us honoring and supporting them outside of the school building.”
Many of the scholars who have all maintained academic excellence for at least one year, have plans after high school. Anthony Jacobs, 10th-grader at Pioneer High School, maintains a 3.2 GPA. When asked how he keeps his grades up, he said, “I stay after school each day with my math teacher and get my homework done and ask for help when I need it.”
Community High School senior, Siri Zama, was honored for the third time.
“I want to go to UCLA,” says Zama, “I’d like to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a psychologist.” Eight to 10 tables over, her mother Shauntel Garland and history teacher, Cindy Haidu-Banks sat in smiles and support.
Saidah Rahman, a 10th-grader at Skyline, says that she maintains her 3.7 GPA by studying hard and focusing in class and would like to join the Peace Corps after college. Odia Sylla, also a tenth grader at Skyline, said that she would like to be a surgeon.
“Lives are really precious. And to be able to fix someone’s life or take away their pain would be really cool.” Continued…
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ANN ARBOR: NAACP hosts Freedom Fund Dinner