The 2017 Biloxi NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet honored local community leaders for their positive and valuable impact on the Mississippi Gulf Coast region.
Tim Bennett of Overtime Sports received a standing ovation upon receiving the President’s Award for his major achievement of overseeing the building of MGM Park and his involvement with the Biloxi Shuckers Minor League Baseball team. He spoke briefly about helping bring in the Conference USA Baseball Tournament to the stadium next month.
More than 300 people filled the IP Casino Resort banquet room Saturday for the event. Biloxi NAACP President James Crowell and five other area NAACP branch presidents attended with several of their members.
Keynote speaker Bishop Rick August of Greater Grace Apostolic Assembly inspired the audience with an address that coincided with the event’s theme, “NAACP: Steadfast and Immovable,” recognizing past historic names associated with the NAACP, focusing particularly on late Mississippian Fannie Lou Hamer. August emphasized the need to establish legacies in the community to benefit future generations.
“If you don’t build something that outlives you, you really haven’t built anything at all,” August said. “It is only that we connect to the next generation where we will make an investment worthy enough to get the return that carries on momentum.”
Aligned with Bishop August’s message, several people were recognized by Crowell for committing to being lifetime members of the organization.
Other honorees: Lea Campbell, the Herbert Caliste Political Action Award; Gordon Jackson Jr., the Dr. Gilbert R. Mason Sr. Award; Roberta Avila and Frank Magee, each receiving the Charlie Clay Sr. Community Service Award; Mississippi Power, the Wilmer McDaniel Corporate Award; Pastor Henry McNeal, the Dorothy Lashley Religious Award; IP Casino Resort, the Alexander Bellamy Money Award; Dr. Vera Robinson, the Gwendolyn DeMarks Education Award; and Kiara Wormley, the Clara Ramsey Youth Award.