The Lincoln Parish branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held its annual Freedom Fund Banquet on Jan. 16.In addition to serving as an observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the event included a banquet, the NAACP’s annual scholarship award and membership drive.
This year’s theme was “Bold Dreams, Big Victories.” Like many African-American programs, the banquet began with the singing of the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Ruston native Dr. Patrick Moore was the featured speaker. Moore is the medical director of Moore Health Group in Lafayette.
The focus of his speech was the program’s theme. He began by giving the audience a brief look into his childhood on the “west side of town,” where he grew up.
“My life experience is so real, that it’s surreal. I dream every day. All of my dreams are bold – unchartered territory,” said Moore. “I strive for bold dreams and big victories everyday.”
Moore credited his alma mater Meharry Medical College for helping to become a better person.
“Meharry brought some qualities out of me that I didn’t know I had. My sense of responsibility and family heightened during my time at Meharry,” he said.
He said that there is no blueprint for achieving dreams and that people must do their research and homework to figure it out.
Then Moore spoke of the Jim Crow era. He said that people may know Jim Crow laws as separate yet equal, but it was so much more.
“Slavery takes a back seat to the mental oppression of Jim Crow laws.”
He said it has an effect on the way how African Americans think, problems they encounter, and it is one of the reasons for their lack of drive, education and determination.
He also said that King was responsible for helping to bring an end to the era.
“Through his coordination and perseverance, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought about change with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Act,” said Moore.
He ended by challenging the audience to go out and excite inspiration into everyone, not just children.
“Do you know who you are? Do you know your purpose and believe in it? Do you have a dream? Do you embrace the dream or believe in it?”
The young and old were inspired by Moore’s speech. Eleven-year-old Omar Mitchell said that it was important for young people to hear Moore’s speech.
“It let young people know what to do in life so that they will not make bad decisions. Do what you have to do, and follow your dreams,” said Mitchell.
A legislative update was given by The Honorable Richard Gallot Jr., House Representative of the 11th District in the state of Louisiana. He said the goals of the NAACP are to achieve equality politically, economically and in all areas of life.
Gallot said that all of us must become involved, not just one representative or elected person, and the upcoming census in April is critically important. “We can only have districts that represent our people if we are counted,” he said.
The NAACP, founded on Feb. 12, 1909, is one of the oldest and most influential civil rights organizations in the United States.
Its members and supporters advocate for civil rights in their communities and throughout the nation by conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.