Achievements in scholarship and community service were recognized Saturday night during the 42nd Freedom Fund Banquet conducted by the Marshall County Branch of the NAACP in Lewisburg's Recreation Center.
And the Association's dinner speaker, Kenneth L. Pinkney, director of student intervention and behavior for Memphis City Schools, delivered a message of faith, family and friendship, asking his audience to overcome society's pressure that ends friendships between races in adulthood.
"When we were little," Pinkney said, "we played together and traded bicycles and marbles... As we got older, something happened... We listened to society."
The man described himself as a "crazy Marine." He spent two decades with the Corps. And he was an assistant pastor for 16 years with the recently deceased Benjamin Hooks. Pinkney encouraged the community to pull together as it has for other causes and especially for young people.
"We recycle trash, but we throw away kids," he said, turning from society to the criminal justice system.
"When we look at the budget, how much is set aside for advancement of children, health services and the elderly?
"Or," Pinkney said, expanding his question on budgets and courts, "how much is set aside for those who come back from prison? They see the same thing and leave. We have to make room for these people."
If not, families lose.
"We have to make room for a crook in our community," he said to dramatize his point about recidivism and reform after being away.
"This is a great facility here," Pinkney said of the Lewisburg Recreation Center. "I applaud the City Council for it."
Such facilities are a place for young people and, if it doesn't reduce their delinquency by providing alternative activities, it may be a place to look when something goes wrong.
He challenged mayors to write letters to local young men and women in prison, telling them when they're out, there's help to prevent a repetition of their criminal past.
Pinkney's speech was part sermon and partly a motivational presentation and he called for personal responsibility.
"I wondered why there were three generations of one family in the projects," he said. "An answer came from a mother who said, 'If I have one more child, I can have $400 more per month (from welfare). If she can figure that out, she can do better, but she wanted to buy a car at the expense of a child."
Also during the dinner, Branch leaders recognized scholarship winners and presented the George W. Turner Achievement Award to Jerrie F. Henry.
"In the words of Gomer Pyle, 'Surprise, surprise, surprise,'" said Henry, adding that her husband should have let her in on the secret. She was "raised in a household where you help people," so what she did to receive the award just came natural.
Turner grew up in Farmington, earned degrees from four colleges, taught in Perry and Marshall counties, was principal of Jones High School here and was elected president of the Tennessee Education Association. He died in 1986 a few hours after being told he was selected to be Marshall County Citizen of the Year.
NAACP 2010 Scholarship recipients recognized Saturday include Zachery Emmanuel Amis, Brandon Matthew Edwards, Katie Lauren Pigg, Alison Rae Scott and James Vincent Trapani. The Minority Business Owners 2010 Scholarship recipients are Jamie A. Perryman and Stephanie Lashey Moore.