NAACP honors business owners

Published 11:39 pm Saturday, February 25, 2012

The honorees at the 46th annual Freedom Fund Banquet for the Nansemond-Suffolk branch of the NAACP gathered in a room before the ceremony began Saturday. The honorees are mostly current or former black business owners or the family members of deceased business people.

The Nansemond-Suffolk branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People held its 46th annual Freedom Fund Banquet on Saturday at Tabernacle Christian Church.

The event, which included guest speakers, musical selections and attendance by representatives from the National NAACP, also served to honor dozens of current and former black business owners in the city.

There was the family of the late James E. “Doc” Richards Sr., a longtime pharmacist who owned and operated Suffolk Professional Pharmacy. He was known for giving sick people medicine on credit if they didn’t have enough money to pay. He died in 2009 at the age of 89.

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There was the family of the late Perry Davis Lambert, who owned the Horse Shoe Café on East Washington Street with Joseph Davis for many years. The restaurant’s private party rooms would be booked for years in advance.

There was Dr. Bernard Glover, who ended his dental practice seven years ago at the age of 72. He also served on the School Board and the Salvation Army board of directors.

There was the family of the late George and Nellie Saunders, who ran Nellie’s Auto Luncheonette on Route 58 for more than 40 years. Black customers would come from miles around to be able to walk in the front door — something that was forbidden for blacks at so many restaurants in that time.

Many more business owners or their families were honored as well — former owners of grocery stores, several doctors, owners of automotive garages, barber shop owners and more.

The business owners and professionals were honored for the effect they have had on the community, chapter President Lue Ward said.

“They are people who have had a very big impact in the community,” he said.

The banquet committee decided to honor black business owners for making a difference, said Anita Lewis, chair of the event.

“We came up with the theme, ‘Determined to Make a Difference,’” she said. “We wanted to honor African-American businesses.”

Though she said reaching the families of some of the deceased honorees was a difficult task, the organization was committed to giving them their due for providing a livelihood, community, health care and culture for Suffolk’s black residents in the last century.

“It’s important because when we really look at what the NAACP stands for, it’s to make a difference,” Lewis said.

The guest speaker for the event was Kim Keenan, general counsel for the National NAACP. Musical selections were rendered by Toriano Johnson.