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Banquet reinforces NAACP’s mission (with PHOTOS)

The Rev. Russell Wilkins, pastor of St. John Church of Christ (Disciples of Christ) was the keynote speaker at the NAACP’s Freedom Fund Banquet Friday night. (WDN Photo/Mona Moore)

With “Affirming America’s Promise” as its theme, the Beaufort County chapter of the NAACP’s 31st-annual Freedom Fund Banquet was a night of inspiration in the form of song, dance, poetry and keynote speaker the Rev. Russell Wilkins.

  • View photos of the event here.

The area pastor reminded an audience of nearly 200 people that the NAACP’s mission is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of all people and to eliminate racism.

Wilkins said he hoped that politicians would not balance the budget on the backs of the poor and working class.

“I know the government isn’t the cure for all. However, our government should work for us, not against us,” Wilkins said. “Our government should help us and not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity, not just for those with influence, but for every single American.”

The audience applauded the remarks before Wilkins could continue. He asked that politicians stop the unnecessary bickering and work together, but he warned that it would not happen during this year, an election year.

“The GOP will not pass anything that will help the president’s poll numbers,” he said. “I ask of you, don’t let the president’s position on same-sex marriage be used to divide us at the ballot box.”

The audience cheered again.

Wilkins challenged the audience to hold politicians accountable and to hold on to their faith. The audience responded with a standing ovation.

The banquet included performances by students from Washington and Southside high schools. Southside senior Lance Myers shared his poetry, and inspirational dance group Elements of Worship danced to gospel music.

The event was held at the Temple of Jesus Christ’s Family Life Center.

“I hope we have 31 more because you play such a critical role in the community,” said Washington Mayor Archie Jennings.

Jennings shared a table with state Sen. Stan White, state Rep. Bill Cook, City Manager Bill Kay and several county commissioners.

“This organization is just something that can be counted on in the community,” Jennings said. “And this event just gets better every year.”