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Calvert NAACP luncheon focuses on future, legacy

Legacy and keeping an eye toward the future were the themes of the afternoon at the NAACP Calvert County chapter’s annual fall luncheon, held Nov. 1 at the Rod’N’Reel Restaurant in Chesapeake Beach.

The NAACP is a civil rights organization that fights for social and economic justice for all Americans. Dana Jones, NAACP life member, said the goals of the annual luncheons are to “share information, celebrate the legacy of the NAACP and continue to unite a community that is passionate about social justice and peace.”

Gerald Stansbury, president of the Maryland State Conference NAACP, said at the event, “We are the voice of the voiceless.” In line with that statement, the luncheon included a rendition of the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Charles Lowery, director of fair lending and inclusion for the NAACP, addressed the members in the audience, explaining that the NAACP Economic Department works with the big banks now to monitor their practices, and the focus of their work is economic sustainability. He went on to say that the NAACP Economic Department’s programs are geared toward providing all citizens with “the hopes and aspirations of the American Dream in terms of economic stability.”

The department’s four program areas include economic education, fair lending, community and economic development, and opportunity and diversity work. Lowery described the work that his department has done in each of those areas, and stressed the importance of sharing the information it gains with the community.

“We will continue to work hard to push forward this economic justice agenda in all the ways that we can,” Lowery said.

After a lunch provided by the Rod’N’Reel, Vincent O. Leggett, who is the founder of the Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation and the African American Land Trust Inc. and a historian and author, spoke about the black slave Charles Ball, who was from Maryland. He explained how Ball helped the slaves of the Chesapeake region keep hope and joined the American forces in the War of 1812.

Leggett then described some of the work he has done for the community, such as the environmental project he started with Stansbury, called the NAACP Freedom Grove. He also discussed his book, “The Chesapeake Bay through Ebony Eyes,” which looks at the contribution African-Americans have made in the maritime and seafood industry.

He concluded his talk by asking all to “keep their hand on the plow, and eyes on the prize.” He explained, “We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go. … I challenge you all to continue to work together to fight for justice, liberty and peace.”

Also during the event, Edsel Brown, Calvert County NAACP vice president, who spoke in place of Calvert NAACP President Joyce Freeland, shared some notes from Freeland, who, like Leggett, urged attendees to keep up the work of the NAACP:

“‘We need your help. We need for you to join the NAACP if you believe in justice and equality for everyone,’” Brown recited for Freeland.

“The NAACP has faced every new rising sun. They have marched on and made an extraordinary difference,”

Special to The Recorder