The Media Area Unit chapter of the NAACP recently honored its “Foot Soldiers for Justice” during the organization’s Annual Freedom Fund Luncheon at The Oaks Ballroom in Glenolden.
Hosted by Chester resident and CBS 3/CW Philly on-air reporter, Dray Clark, the luncheon honored the work of several of the area’s influential figures.
“It’s important to understand the sacrifices of those in the past,” Clark said to about 200 people attending the celebration and main fundraiser for the chapter.
“It was a wonderful event,” said six year chapter president and Glen Mills resident, Dr. Joan Duvall-Flynn.
Lawyer, author and pastor Rev. Vincent S. Gallagher, of Life Counseling Services/Rehab After Work, was the luncheon’s keynote speaker sharing “the only way that social change can occur is through the change of laws and the change of hearts.”
With the nationally polarizing circumstances surrounding the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, Rev. Gallagher and many of the luncheon’s award recipients seized the opportunity to voice their opinions with respect to injustice. Gallagher’s spirited speech reflected the spirit that has guided the NAACP to be a forerunner for advocacy throughout Delaware County and the state.
“I see the value of the NAACP,” said former chapter secretary Patricia Coiner. “They were very helpful with identifying resources to get our situation resolved.”
Coiner became an active member of the NAACP Media Area Unit after receiving aid from the chapter while assisting a friend address an injustice some years ago.
Along with Coiner, Ernest Derrickson Jr., Anna Fisher, Ann Geers, Ethalene Jackson, Marjorie Anne Moat, and Media Mayor Bob McMahon all received the President’s Recognition for Meritorious Service.
Mayor McMahon’s commitment to historical legacy, particularly the Tuskegee Airman, led to one of the luncheon’s highlights. Four members of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen attended to accept the Foot Soldier for Justice Award.
Aaron Watkins, Bertram Levy, Delaware County native Roscoe Draper and Dr. Eugene Richardson were “charming” and well received.
“We owe the NAACP quite a bit, they went to bat for us in the 1930s,” Richardson said. “We sued the U.S. Army to allow us to fight for our country and the NAACP was in the forefront of the law suit back then.”
Recognized for his years of tireless work for the chapter, where he held many positions and has overseen the organization’s annual banquet, John H. Stokes was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award.
State Representatives James Roebuck Jr. and Ronald Waters received awards for their support and activism on an array of legislative initiatives, namely education.
“I’ve worked with Rep. Roebuck on several occasions fighting for all children,” said Flynn, who also sits on Pennsylvania’s Education Committee.
Awards were also presented to Ralph Brown for his contributions throughout his career with PECO Energy; Lawrence Feinberg, a Haverford School Board director who has worked diligently in the legislative area; and the Media Providence Friends School for its commitment to diversity and equity in independent education.
“Addressing education through policy is one of our main focus areas,” Flynn said. “We will be hosting a daylong conference on the state of education at Cheyney University on May 25 at the request of State Senator Dinniman.”
Meetings for the NAACP Media Area Unit are held on the first Tuesday of each month at the Media Fellowship House located at 302 South Jackson St. in Media.
For more information on the chapter and upcoming conference, visit www.naacpmediabranch.org.