by Susan Cohen
In the wake of the re-election of the country’s first black president — and despite the installment of controversial voter ID laws in South Carolina and many other states — the Charleston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has much to celebrate. And at Saturday’s annual Freedom Fund Banquet, they’ll have a very special and prominent guest: Benjamin Jealous, the president and CEO of the NAACP. He will serve as the night’s keynote speaker.
But as Charleston branch president Dot Scott points out, “Ben Jealous’ appearance would be especially relevant any year I could have gotten him.” She actually booked Jealous back in April. At the time, he promised to come as soon as the NAACP got through the election, both on a national and local level. That way, Jealous’ appearance wouldn’t interfere with what they needed to do to get voters to the polls.
“Having said that, it is an especially great time that we are celebrating an event like the re-election as well,” Scott adds. “I think that the issues that we have been dealing with — whether it has been issues that have been local to us, like issues like education in particular, racial profiling, the healthcare issue, the attack on voters rights — all of those are things that locally we have been in the thick of trying to make sure that the laws are ones that do not abuse the rights of any citizens.”
The annual banquet gives the NAACP a chance to bring together a diverse group of local citizens who support the organization’s mission, as well as to thank its corporate sponsors.
“It’s not just a celebration because it’s time to have a party,” Scott says. “It’s a way of us raising funds to have the door open there at our branch, for people to come in. ... We’re there as a resource to the them for whatever it is that they feel we can help.”
The 95th annual banquet takes place this Sat. Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Charleston Area Convention Center. Tickets are $100. Call the local branch’s office at (843) 805-8030 to learn more.