By Sandra Long Weaver
Tribune Editorial Director
NASHVILLE, TN — After a century of activism, the Nashville Branch of the NAACP renewed its call for people to take action against the oppression of others during its Centennial Freedom Fund Banquet on August 24.
In a rousing sermon – not speech – to a sold-out audience of more than 1,000 people, Rev. John Faison Sr. said “we cannot remain silent about the oppression of others. Your silence could lead to you being treated the same way.“
Another highlight of the evening was the donation of $100,000 by Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk to the Branch. Diversity and inclusion are important to the organization which is active in the community, she said during her presentation to Branch officers.
Rev. Faison went on to point out how important it is for people to understand they are connected to others even if you don’t know them. “We must reject the myth of exceptionalism,” Rev. Faison said. “Don’t think you will escape when the edict is made.” He referred to a word popularized by Bishop Desmond Tutu: Umbutu: I am because we are.
It is important to remember “if my brother is hurting, I am hurting. If my sister is broken, I am broken.”
“If you can’t see the connections at your table, it will be hard to see the connections with others in the city,” Rev. Faison said.
The theme Renaissance 100: Proud Past, Inspired Future carried through the evening. “This is the new NAACP. At 100 years, you can kind of become stale, but we have new blood and new energy,” said Rev. Keith Caldwell, President of Nashville NAACP.
He said the theme was selected “to commemorate our ongoing mission of ensuring that all persons have access to the benefits of human flourishing by ensuring the equality of rights for all individuals without discrimination based on race.”
Centennial Legacy Awards were given to Attorneys Charles W. Bone and Joy Kimbrough and Davidson County Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway. The Charles E. Kimbrough Renaissance 100 Medal of Honor was give to Justin Jones, a youth activist.
State Senator Brenda Gilmore was chair of 2019 Freedom Funds Awards Dinner. Honorary Co-chairs were Dr. James K Hildreth, President/CEO Meharry Medical College, Latrisha Jemison, Vice President Regions Bank, Tina Hodges, CEO Advance Financial, Butch Spyridonm CEO Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. and Amy Adams Strunk, controlling owner of the Titans.