Baltimore NAACP hosts Annual Freedom Fund Banquet


— More than 500 people gathered at the downtown Baltimore Hilton on Thursday, November 7, 2013 for the Baltimore City NAACP Annual Freedom Fund Banquet, the largest fundraiser held each year by the local branch of the civil rights organization. The event featured a VIP reception attended by this year’s honorees, corporate sponsors and NAACP dignitaries from across the state.

“This Freedom Fund Banquet is one of our best,” said President Tessa Hill-Aston. “We’re focused on energizing our members and supporters to prepare for the important state elections next year. We had a very successful legislative session this year but the much-needed work of equality and justice continues. It will make a big difference, who represents us in Annapolis and as statewide office holders.”

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Senator Ben Cardin, Congressman John Sarbanes, Baltimore State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein, gubernatorial candidate Del. Heather Mizeur, attorney general candidate Del. Jon Cardin and Doug Gansler running mate Del. Jolene Ivey were among those in attendance. Also among the elected officials Del. Talmadge Branch, Del. Barbara Robinson, Del. Cheryl Glenn, Del. Nathanial Oaks, former Senator Paul Sarbanes and former Del. Clarence “Tiger” Davis.

Maryland State NAACP President Gerald Stansbury called the evening a “great opportunity to pause and celebrate our victories and honor some outstanding people who’ve made extraordinary contributions to the fight for civil and human rights.”

Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and vice president for advocacy and policy gave keynote remarks remembering the hard fought legal cases that have led to a more “just and equal” country and shared the national agenda for the NAACP on capitol hill.

The 2013 Thurgood Marshall Award winners were Anthony Lewis, Mid- Atlantic Regional Vice President, Verizon; Mary Pat Clarke, Baltimore City Council, 14th District; Jerome Stephens, Office of Senator Benjamin Cardin; William “Billy” Murphy, Murphy Falcon & Murphy Law Firm; Hassan Murphy, Murphy Falcon & Murphy Law Firm; Michele Brown, Office of Senator Barbara Mikulski; Michael Sarbanes, Baltimore City Public Schools; Grand Master Melvin Thorpe, Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, MD; Sharon Pinder, Director, Office of Minority & Women Owned Business Development; Lt. Colonel Melvin Russell, Baltimore City Police Department; Stu Simms, Brown Goldstein & Levy Law Firm; Linda Felder, founder of Felder House; and Frank Dunbaugh, a retired civil rights attorney.