Scholarships awarded at Freedom Banquet

Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Photos by Beth Leftwich State Rep. Eddie Bass (left) and R.L. Williams of the Marshall County Branch enjoy a conversation at the banquet.

Six high school seniors from Marshall County were awarded with scholarships Saturday evening, April 28, at the Lewisburg Recreation Center by the Marshall County Branch NAACP during the organizations 39th Freedom Fund Banquet.

"To the youngsters, God bless you," stated guest speaker Dr. Walter Searcy, "but to whom receives much, much is expected and the community that gave it to you didn't come buy it easy and we expect something in return."

Dr. Searcy's presence was one of many highlights of the evening that attracted well over 100 attendees for a lovely buffet dinner, recognition of the scholarship winners, and presentation of the George W. Turner Achievement Award, among other activities.

The six young ladies honored for their achievements and each receiving $500 to further their education are: Nisha D. Brown of Marshall County HS, plans to attend MTSU to study Sports Medicine; Candice R. Johnson, Marshall County HS, plans to attend MTSU to study Veterinary Medicine; Katrina S. McLean, Forrest High School, plans to attend UTC to study Business Administration; Jennifer L. Stephens, Marshall County HS, plans to attend MTSU to study Elementary Education; Emily A. Tate, Cornersville HS, is undecided between Motlow State and Columbia State, with plans to study Nursing; and Brittaney N. Tears, Marshall County HS, plans to attend MTSU to study Dental Hygiene.

Rochelle Alexander, Secretary of the MC Branch, served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening and introduced her fellow officers including President Gary Davis, Vice President Ann Tears, Assistant Secretary Diane Henry, and Treasurer Teresa Maxwell.

Mrs. Elizabeth Sowell gave a heartwarming welcome to the group and Dr. Larry Thomas offered a prayer at the start of the program prior to dinner being served.

Vice President Tears gave an overview of the scholarship program, including an update on some of the previous year's recipients and asked this year's winners to stay in touch as well. In addition to the scholarship, each recipient received a certificate and small gift from State Farm agent Peggy Hubbard.

President Davis thanked the two major sponsors of the banquet and presented representatives of the companies, Wal-Mart and Reynelle Smith, and First National Bank and Sandra McPherson, with plaques of appreciation.

The 14th annual George W. Turner Achievement Award, named in honor of the former Jones School principal, was presented by Bill Murphy, to co-winners Gary Davis and Rochelle Alexander for their dedicated service to the Marshall County Branch and to helping to further its mission. Both received large, inscribed plaques from their peers.

Dr. Walter Searcy, an attorney and Nashville Branch executive committee member who unsuccessfully ran for US Congress in 1987, gave a moving speech. He stated from the start that he wanted the crowd to "wake up tomorrow, knowing that you heard something memorable."

The foundation of his talk was based on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, particularly Title VI and VII, and he stressed the importance of making jobs available in the local community to prevent communities from becoming distressed, people leaving, and crime increasing among those left behind.

"Criminal activity fills the void of legitimate business (and) is linked to the lack of enforcement of Title VI," stated Dr. Searcy, adding, "African Americans are not sharing in the business stream and this equals missed opportunities to share in healthy communities."

Robert L. Williams recognized the many special guests in attendance followed by donated door prizes being given away. President Davis thanked everyone for their support of the Marshall County Branch and Rev. Victor Goodman closed with the Benediction.