Speaking for others: PRC NAACP hosts annual banquet

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mary Richardson thanks everyone for her service award. Photo by Cassandra Favre

Mary Richardson thanks everyone for her service award.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Friday, the Pearl River County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People held their sixth annual Freedom Fund and first Mother of the Year banquet in Poplarville.
This year’s theme was “Speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
Throughout the evening, speakers recited scriptures, sang songs and delivered speeches. Guests speakers including Kevin Hart, Michael Kelly, Marcus Houston, Poplarville Mayor Brad Necaise, District I Supervisor Donald Hart, Marcus Jordan, Charlie Wash, the Hart family, James Crowell, State President for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP and Executive Director of One Voice Inc. Derrick Johnson and PRC NAACP President Jimmy Richardson.
Necaise welcomed everyone on behalf of the city of Poplarville.
“I always want you here,” he said. “If you need anything, our door is always open. We value your work and we want to be a part of it.”
Donald Hart said during his five months in office, he has seen a desire from the county’s mayors and supervisors to move forward through the implementation of a positive vision for Pearl River County.
Johnson, the event’s guest speaker, spoke about how the NAACP stands up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
“That’s what we are doing,” he said. “We give them a pulpit and platform. We are preparing our young people for the future and protecting the rights of the disadvantaged where race and religion are being used to divide.”
During the ceremony, Beatrice Hart was honored as the PRC NAACP’s 2016 Mother of the Year. She was unable to attend so her daughter Pairlee Wash accepted the honor on her mother’s behalf.
Richardson presented three service awards, including one to Johnson for his work with the organization.
The group honored Lumberton native Mary Helen Bender Richardson for her service to the community. She now lives in Picayune and is a former teacher and nurse.
According to her biography, Mary Richardson wrote the first black speak-out piece published in the Picayune Item about the lack of black employees at Picayune’s City Hall and Picayune School District. She organized the 1978 Picayune School boycott, which resulted in a finding of discrimination by the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare. She was instrumental in voter registration drives and organized black history programs at the Pearl River County Welcome Center, her biography states.
Richardson also honored former Pearl River County District I Supervisor Anthony Hales Sr. According to his biography, Hales became the first African-American elected to the Poplarville Board of Aldermen in 1985. After that, he was the first African-American to be elected to the position of Pearl River County District I Supervisor in 1996. He retired from office on December 31, 2015, ending his 30 plus years of service to Pearl River County.
“I want to thank these individuals for speaking for those who can’t speak for themselves in our county,” Richardson said.
According to www.naacp.org, the organization’s vision is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race.

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