More than 270 come out for annual NAACP banquet

0917 NAACP banquet

More than 270 people attended the 65th annual Craven County Branch NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet Saturday at the Flame Banquet Center in New Bern.

The event was hosted by the Rev. Armandez Crawford and Johnny “Koolout” Starks of KISS-102.

The featured speaker was Dr. Patricia Williams-Lessane, director of the Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. She is the sister of the Craven County Branch NAACP President Marshall Williams.

Mayoral candidates Barbara Lee, Sabrina Bengel, Dana Outlaw, Tharesa Lee and Denny Bucher, along with alderman candidates Johnnie Ray Kinsey, Bee Mayo, Bernard White, Alfred Barfield, Micah Grimes, Susan Namowicz and Victor Taylor, were present. Each candidate was allotted two minutes to speak to guests regarding their plans for office should they be elected.

Community service awards were presented to groups who have worked diligently to improve their community. Organizations honored were: the 6th Masonic District, Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of NC; District 6, Order of the Eastern Star, Prince Hall Affiliated; Theta Beta Omega Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; New Bern Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Iota Sigma Zeta Chapter, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.; and Arabian Temple No. 42, A.E.A.O.N.M.S.

The Presidential Award was presented to Mary Randolph, a 92-year-old resident of New Bern. She is a historian and advocate for her community. Randolph was in attendance with several of her family members.

James “Tall Jack” Jackson, vice president of the Craven County Democratic Party, said he really looks forward to the banquet and comes every year. He said Saturday’s event was one of the nicest ones that he has attended and that he truly enjoyed the speaker.

Jackson also pointed out the New Bern is very rich in African-American history.

Pam Woods, vice president of the local NAACP Chapter and banquet chairperson, said this is the organization’s only fundraiser.

The NAACP was founded in 1909 and is the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization with more than 500,000 members and supporters throughout the United States.

For more information or to join the local NAACP, contact Marshall Williams, president, at

Tina Adkins can be reached at 252-635-5681 or Follow her on Twitter @tinaladkins.

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