On Friday, October 28, 2016, we will celebrate the one-hundred years that the Montclair Branch NAACP has been in existence. This event will take place at the Hanover Manor in East Hanover, NJ and we expect it to be huge! Not only does it serve as a marker in recognition of 100 years in civil rights advocacy for our branch but it sends a very important message about persistence and determination. It speaks volumes for those who understand the tremendous changes that have been made right here in our own town in the interest of justice and equality. More importantly, it demonstrates that the differences that may have set our nation apart on the basis of race, gender, socio-economic status or cultural background, has worked to bring us together in unity, in strength and in hope. I am blessed to be a product of a township that prides itself on the idea of diversity. When folks care, they are willing to set those perceived differences apart in order to work toward a greater good. Our civil liberties should never be taken for granted. There has been a tremendous cost for our freedoms. They were fought too hard for. When we look around, we can see some stark changes in the complexion of our schools, in our places of business, health care facility and even in our houses of worship. We might not be where we should be but that is the reason why we continue to work. The truth of the matter is we certainly are not where we were 100 years ago. Our own history has given us the vision, strength and courage to keep working.
I am extremely pleased that our own Senator Nia H. Gill will deliver the keynote address at this year’s fundraiser. Senator Gill, in my mind, is certainly the epitome of strong and committed leadership. She has represented her constituents well and does so with a keen sense of understanding the importance of sifting out the rhetoric in order to engage in discussions that deliver lasting results. Jeh C. Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security will be our Thurgood Marshall recipient. Secretary Johnson, a graduate of Morehouse College, and Columbia School of Law, now serves in one of the most important roles in the country which is to ensure the safety of our borders. The fact that these two highly respected individuals, in their own right, continue to work for the benefit of all the people is not only a symbol of character and integrity but symbolic of the mission and legacy of the NAACP.
The Thurgood Marshall Dinner & Awards Ceremony is the single most important fundraiser of the Montclair Branch NAACP. Proceeds from the fundraiser are used to offset operating costs, promote scholarships for deserving high school students, engage in NAACP national, state and locally mandated initiatives. I am not only encouraging you all to join us on the evening of October 28, 2016 but to join the continuing fight for freedom, justice and equality for all people.
Albert E. Pelham, President