The 40th Annual NAACP Freedom Gala Celebrates Community Members Making A Difference


The NAACP and Onondaga County are inviting everyone to their 40th annual Freedom Fund Gala to honor community members who are making a difference. “We don’t do enough to lift up the people that do some things, those unsung heroes that work in this community and probably never get recognized,”  said president Linda Brown-Robinson.


Tim Penix from SUNY EOC is receiving the “Harriet Tubman Freedom Award”.

The “Harriet Tubman Freedom” Award is given annually to an individual whose efforts have demonstrated, produced or contributed towards making and eradicating racial injustice while promoting social equity and beyond. Demonstrating leadership, this individual helped advance and improve the community at large.

Crouse Health is receiving the “Earl G. Graves, Sr. Corporate Award”.

The “Earl G. Graves, Sr. Corporate” Award is given annually to a business whose contributions demonstrate an allegiance with the African American community through work dedicated to promotion of equal rights, opportunities, partnerships, and/or financial contributions.

Derrick Carr from SEIU 1199 NYSUT (New York State United Teachers) is receiving the “A. Phillip Randolph CNY Union Award”.

 The “A. Phillip Randolph CNY Union” Award is given annually to either an individual employed by a union or the union as the organization itself whose work helps meet humanitarian efforts in the community through volunteerism and civic service. This individual or organization is dedicated to making a positive difference in the community through political, educational, social or economic initiatives.

Laurence Segal, Carla & Mark Hall are receiving the “Oprah Winfrey Philanthropy Award”.

This “Oprah Winfrey Philanthropy” award recognizes an individual, couple, or organization whose philanthropic deeds or contributions have made an impact in the greater community

Cold Case Justice Initiative of Syracuse University is receiving the “Maye, McKinney and Melchor Freedom and Justice Award”.

The “Maye, McKinney and Melchor Freedom and Justice” Award is given annually to an organization, individual or individuals who demonstrate outstanding leadership in enhancing legal work within the community that helps advance social justice and civil rights efforts on behalf of its residents

E. Smith Contractors LLC is receiving the “Madame C.J. Walker Small Business Award”.

The “Madame C. J. Walker Small Business” Award is given annually to a small business whose work has proven a dedication to working with and improving minority communities. Nominee’s work should embody NAACP’s mission – ensuring the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all person’s and eliminating race-based discrimination.

Marjorie Carter is receiving the “Mary McLeod Bethune Educator Award”. She was the first African American teacher in the Syracuse School district.

This year’s special guest is professor, reverend and author, Michael Eric Dyson. “I don’t know how we secured him but we secured him and I guess the reason and the how doesn’t matter. All that matters is that we have him. So I’m looking forward to him. I think he’s going to give us a great dinner,” said Brown-Robinson. Dyson has been a guest on several cable network programs as well.

Emceeing the event is Syracuse native, Natasha Alford. She’s a journalist and is deputy editor of TheGrio. Farah Jadran featured her back in March as a strong woman role model during Women’s History month. “I saw your piece and that’s when picked up the phone and called Linda and said we should get her to be our emcee,” says event coordinator Gwendolyn Muok. Click here for Farah’s story featuring Alford.

 The 40th Annual NAACP Freedom Fund Gala is Friday May 31st. Reception starts at 5pm with dinner and the program beginning at 6pm. It’s being held at the Holiday Inn on Electronics Parkway in Liverpool. VIP tickets start at $140. Dinner only tickets are $100. For more information visit

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