Many honored at annual NAACP East County Branch scholarship and awards banquet

By John Crowder

On Saturday, April 28, the East County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held its annual Image and Scholarship Awards Banquet at the Lone Tree Golf and Event Center in Antioch.

Victoria Adams, President, East County NAACP welcomed everyone in attendance before speaking to the importance of the organization’s mission to future generations.  “We have a duty to teach those who are coming behind us,” she said.  “We must grab the next generation by the hand, and insist that they learn,” she continued.  “We must never ever lose sight of our past, our present, and our future.”

Antioch City Council Member Monica Wilson, Mistress of Ceremonies for the event, followed Adams.  Wilson, the first African American woman to sit on the Antioch City Council, spoke about legacy, referring to her own grandmother’s legacy and the importance of this generation passing on a legacy to the next generation.

The first award of the evening, the Image Award for Education, was presented to Stephon Cartwright, Vice Principal of Antioch High School.  In accepting the award, Cartwright said, “I don’t think I’m doing anything special, I think I’m doing what is expected of me.”  After expressing his appreciation for the parents of his students, he said, “I treat the children as if each one of them was my own, and I have aspirations for each of them.”

The Image Award for Humanitarian Services went to Willie Moffett, Jr.

“I am so humbled to receive this humanitarian award,” Moffett, Jr., said. “There are many out there in the trenches, helping others,” as he pointed out several such individuals in the room.

Pastor Henry L. Perkins, M. Div., First Baptist Church, received the Image Award for Religious Affairs.  The program related that Perkins, “has pastored the First Baptist Church of Pittsburg for the past 26 years, where he labors to serve the needs of the community in a holistic way emphasizing the mandate to make lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ.”

The Image Award for Veteran’s Affairs was given to Chief Hospital Corpsman Odessa Lefrancois, E7, USN (ret.).  Lefrancois said that, while she appreciates people thanking veterans for their service, she wants to see veterans given jobs.  She then called on Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton, the first woman and the first African American to hold that office, to say a few words.

The President’s/Labor Award was presented to the evening’s Keynote Speaker and Civil Rights Activist William “Bill” Lucy.  Lucy emphasized the importance of meaningful work.  “We need to make it possible for some of our young folk who are standing on the corner to participate in apprenticeship programs, to participate in job training programs,” he said.  “We have a moral obligation to help those who want to, to find jobs.”

The final group of awards, presented by Willie Mims, Education Chair of the East County NAACP, were given to local students.  Receiving the awards were  Zachary Moseley, Omoteleola Onipede, Jamil Edwards, Chinyere Oha, Marielena Benavides, Keyvon Carmouche, and Isaiah Youngblood.

Following the presentation, Youngblood, who received the Darnell Turner Memorial Scholar Award, said, “This award proves to me that my efforts are not in vain, that I am moving in the right direction to success.  I’d like to thank my mother and father, along with my teachers for contributing to my success.”

Youngblood, a Senior at Heritage High School in Brentwood, is planning to attend either Howard University or Chapman University.

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