NAACP honors leadersPublished 11:36pm Monday, February 18, 2013
The Suffolk-Nansemond branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People honored four community leaders during its 47th Freedom Fund banquet Saturday night.
More than 100 people came in spite of the snow to attend the annual fundraising event, which also included dinner and a performance of African and Caribbean beats by the Sunset Drummers.
But the main event of the night was the presentation of the “Life, Leadership and Legacy Awards” to the four honorees.
One of the awards was given posthumously. Charlene Christian-Andrews accepted the award on behalf of her father, Charles Christian. He coached men’s basketball at Booker T. Washington and John F. Kennedy high schools in Suffolk before going on to coach at Norfolk State University. He led the team to a record of 101-1 from the 1962-62 season into the 1967-68 season and was remembered as a mentor and father figure to many of his players. He died in 2011 after battling cancer.
“He has definitely left his legacy,” said Paula Scott, who presented the awards. “He contributed so much to this community and beyond.”
Another honoree was Rachel Presha, better known in some circles as the “Purple Lady.” Presha was known for painting telephone poles and other things along Route 17 near her home purple many decades ago. She left around 1988 and lived in various other cities before resurfacing in Suffolk in 2010.
“We thank you for your exceptional contributions to this community and beyond,” Scott said in presenting the award.
Ruby Walden was the third honoree. Walden has been a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, been involved in the Holland Order of the Eastern Star and volunteered for many different organizations. In 2009, she won the Trailblazer Award for the local NAACP chapter.
“She has led; she has nurtured; she has been exceptional in all she has done in the community,” Scott said while presenting the award.
The final honoree, Vanessa Savage, was surprised to hear her name called. She was on the committee for the banquet, and the others managed to keep it a secret, Scott said. Savage is the current executive secretary of the local branch.
President Costellar Ledbetter said the event had been a success and praised the Sunset Drummers for their performance.
“It really just touched those of us who were able to stay,” she said.