NAACP holds Freedom Fund event

Published 10:16 pm Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Nansemond-Suffolk branch of the NAACP held its 53rd annual Freedom Fund event last weekend at Temple Beth El on Bridge Road.

The event included guest speakers and honorees from various facets of business, medicine, technology, arts and community leadership in Suffolk.

“We are here to celebrate people who have given of their time, talent and effort over many, many years,” President Seneca Bock said during the event.

Email newsletter signup

Featured honorees and their areas of expertise were: Brooke Mills (emerging leader); LaTroy Brinkley (small minority-owned business owner); Dr. Cynthia Burwell (Norfolk State University, minority health innovation); Valerie Boykin (public service pioneer); Joette Claude (small minority-owned business owner); Geraldine T. Boone and Julius E. McCollough (musical arts legacy); Dr. Kasey Davis (medical innovation); Lowell Evans (health disparities pioneer); Mr. and Mrs. Ricardo Frost (technology innovation); Ida McPherson (civic leader/pioneer); Councilman Lue Ward (small minority-owned business owner); and Nansemond/Isle of Wight Sunday School Union (historical legacy).

A seed-planting ceremony for Brooke Mills was also held as part of the ceremony.

“All the people we are honoring today are well deserving,” said Costellar Ledbetter, chair of the event.

The Boys Choir of Hampton Roads also was honored and performed several selections at the event.

The guest speaker was D. Yvonne Rivers, principal of the Phoebe Marketing Group since 1997. The company is a marketing and training company headquartered in Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of Lincoln University, creator and producer of the Phoebe Pitch Tank business pitch competition, and runs a micro-enterprise program for women in Ghana.

Rivers told the crowd that they had to have a mission, an opportunity and a plan. She encouraged minority business owners to stick together and create another “Black Wall Street,” as groups of prosperous, African American-owned businesses have been known in many communities across America, including Suffolk.

“We have to look at our history to know where we’re going in the future,” Rivers said.

Bock reminded those assembled, about 300, that the event was a fundraiser for all of the work of the NAACP.

“The work we’re doing is important,” she said. With the U.S. Census coming up, she highlighted the work the NAACP does in the redistricting process that happens following the decennial count.

She also urged everyone to fill out the census form.

“The census is very important, because it dictates what kind of resources come to your community,” she said. “You must be counted.”