ELKHART — Community leaders were honored by the Elkhart chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) during the organization’s annual Freedom Fund Banquet Friday night.
Municipal officials, community leaders, religious and business groups were awarded for their service to the NAACP.
Elkhart City Councilman Brent Curry received the NAACP President’s Award while another Elkhart City Councilman, Dwight Fish, received the Theodis Hadley Community Service Award.
This year’s 2019 NAACP Elkhart Branch Scholarship went to Alana Breckenridge-Peete, an Elkhart Central graduate attending Indiana University-Bloomington.
The highest award bestowed by the Elkhart chapter, the Roy Wilkins Service Award was given to Charlie B. Cross, pastor at St. James AME Church. St. James AME Church which also won the traveling plaque for the church missionary drive this year.
Babette Boling was the banquet honorary chairman. She, her husband Rick and daughter Ashley Boling-Molyneaux, as well as Donald Brown, were recognized as new Life Membership members.
“Membership is the bloodline of the NAACP,” NAACP banquet chairwoman Sonia Hadley-Davis said.
Judge Charles Grodnik served as emcee for the event and Davis said every Elkhart election candidate was in attendance at the banquet.
Youth council president Logan Mitchell also spoke during the banquet. Cora Breckenridge and Sonia Hadley Davis presented the evening’s awards. Keynote speaker was the Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, NAACP National Board of Directors and Detroit NAACP Branch President
NAACP Indiana State President Barbara Boling-Williams, updated the group on recent state activity. The state convention was held in Jeffersonville, and Elkhart won the State Conference of the Year Award, and NIPSCO won the Corporate Award
Currently the NAACP is working statewide on improving the recently approved hate crime law.
“It leaves a lot of us unprotected,” Hadley-Davis said.
Davis said the new hate crime bill does is not sufficient enough to remove Indiana from the list of just five states without a hate crime law.
In an effort to be heard, the NAACP is creating a petition they’d like to have 100,000 names on it. In Elkhart, another town hall meeting will be held on the topic to spread awareness.
This year the NAACP in Elkhart has investigated nearly 30 cases of alleged discrimination outside of the public spotlight.
“We solve a lot of problems like this,” Hadley-Davis said.
Once they determine if a case could be viewed as discrimination, volunteers meet with the parties involved to mediate the situation.