Sunday, January 17, 2021

Miami NAACP’s Freedom Fund commemorates 30 years of service and advocacy

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*Whether it was the late clergyman Theodore Gibson fighting to integrate Miami’s municipal golf courses in the 1950s. Or, the late undertaker Oscar Range and Miami Times publisher Garth C. Reeves, Sr. fighting to integrate the city’s beaches a few years later. Members of Miami, Fla.-area chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have been on the front lines advocating for inclusion and civil rights for decades.

“We are continuously fighting for the rights of the underserved,” said Branch President Ruban Roberts. “Our primary mission of advocating for the civil rights for all is still consistent with the foundational values of the national office of the NAACP.”

In 1988, five local chapters consolidated to create one Miami-Dade branch. On September 29, the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP will celebrate 30 years of service during its Freedom Fund Soiree at the Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines. Themed “Embracing Our Past…Building Our Future,” the branch will honor its past presidents. Past Miami-Dade branch presidents include: Adora Obi Nweze, the current president of the Florida Conference of NAACP; Bishop Victor T. Curry, founding pastor of Miami’s New Birth Baptist Church Cathedral of Faith; Dr. Brad Brown, a longtime civil rights leader and federal agency executive; the late Jouvais Harrington, a civil right activist and advocate and Dr. Shirley B. Johnson, a longtime educator and administrator.

Today, the branch is building on its

Miami-Dade Branch President Ruban Roberts

30-year legacy by advocating for municipal government contract parity, economic empowerment, and human rights.

“We fought for economic inclusion regarding contracting with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Miami-Dade County Government,” Roberts noted. “We make up 19-percent of the local population but historically received less than 2-percent of contracts.”

“We also advocated for the City of Miami Beach to be more welcoming to Black visitors that frequent the beach all year round, but specifically on high impact weekends like Memorial Day and Spring Break,” revealed Ruban, who as co-chair of the mayor’s Memorial Day Blue Ribbon Panel, helped fund programming and official sanctioning of the Historic Memorial Day Weekend.

For those asking, whether the association is still relevant? Roberts answered, “We are the oldest and boldest civil rights organization in this country.”

“N.A.A.C.P. Those five letters mean a lot. When there is an issue that comes up in our community, whether it’s a social justice, civil rights, or inclusion issue, we respond,” Roberts asserted. “When we get involved, the officials we contact, respond. And, we have an opportunity to give input and help create changes,” he added. “We advocate for those who are underserved, voiceless,  and don’t have a seat at the table.”

For more information on the chapter, log on to www.miamidadenaacp.com. For information on tickets and tables, www.freedomfundsoiree.eventbrite.com.

Zach Rinkins, award-winning author, speaker, and journalist.

Zach Rinkins is an educator, former college administrator, and Associated Press award-winning multi-media journalist committed to transforming college students into emerging professionals. A sought after speaker, he drew from those experiences to write I Am College Material! Your Guide to Unlimited College, Career, and Life Success (Australia Publishing). You can connect with Zach on Facebook and Twitter at @ZachRinkins or www.ZachRinkins.com

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