NAACP gives out annual awards

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Guests at the third annual NAACP Black Tie Banquet were asked Saturday to consider what each individual can do to fix the criminal justice system.

James Forman Jr., a professor of law at Yale Law School and former public defender, addressed the issues he saw while working in the criminal justice system and asked guests to think along with him on the way to possible solutions.

To illustrate how convicted criminals can be reformed, he told the story of “Dante,” a young man he represented as a public defender.

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“He told a guy at a bus stop to give him money,” Forman said. “The guy gave Dante $12 and Dante ran with the money. He had a knife in his pocket; he had no defense – he pled guilty.”

Despite the guilty plea, Forman relayed how he was able to work with the victim to allow the juvenile offender to get into a reformatory carpentry program provided by the pastor of a small local church, not a program offered by the public.

The victim agreed and Dante went into the program. As Forman walked down a Washington D.C. street 10 years later, he found Dante again, now a foreman at a construction company. He had not been arrested since that robbery.

Forman said Dante’s story is just one of many kids that grew up in bad situations that face the potential of being lost to the prison system. He called on attendees to find ways to help make a change.

In addition to Forman’s speech, the NAACP used the banquet to give out their annual awards, including four scholarships to local students from Charles Henderson High School, Pike County High School, Goshen High School and Pike Liberal Arts School.

The organization honored Annie R. Wheeler, a resident of Banks, as a matriarch.

She lost her granddaughter, Shanterrica, in August 2016, her only son, Tommy, in May 2017. She also suffered second and third degree burns in a brush fire in March 2012 and had to have over 30 surgeries in four months at the UAB hospital. She is a faithful member of Sweet Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church and was a long-time sewing machine operator at several factories around Brundidge.

James Jackson was honored as patriarch. He has served as a deacon at the Lily White Church of the Living God for over 40 years. He also received a certificate of appreciation for Habitat Hero of Brundidge by the Troy-Pike Habitat for Humanity.

Lovie Scott was also honored as a matriarch. She is an avid walker, walking two miles a day. She is also a mentor to the community.

Charles Stringer was honored as a patriarch. Stringer was a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1965 that knock on Pike County doors to let residents know their rights. He was the first black fireman in Pike County as well as an auxiliary police officer because black officers could not serve on the regular police force.

CHHS Jylexus Williams received one of the organization’s four $500 scholarships for students. She will be majoring in biochemistry at the University of Alabama with aspirations to become a pharmacist and own her own drug store. She is the owner of Speaking Couture by Jylexus.

Jensen Garrett was named the recipient from PLAS. She will be attending Troy University in the fall as a studio art major with a minor in marketing. She volunteers with the Johnson Center for the Arts as well as other community organizations and began an annual book drive in 2016.

Destiny T. Flournoy of PCHS also earned a scholarship. She plans on attending UAB to major in pre-health for physical therapy.

From GHS, Tavares Adams took home the scholarship. He was the 2017-2018 Homecoming King, and is a member of various school clubs and participates in various extracurricular activities. He plans to pursue bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in education.

Raj Tyner was awarded for community service. He is employed by the U.S. Postal Service and also participates in many mission activities around the world.

Kenneth Robinson’s Cut Creations won the outstanding business award. He has been cutting hair at the business for the last 25 years.

Ann McMillan received the unsung heroine award. She serves as a board member for the Troy Housing Authority and the Pike County Retired Educators Association. She is advisor and member of the Troy United Women’s League and a reader for Troy Head Start RIF Program. She serves as delegate tot eh associate district, state and national Baptist State Convention, USA, Inc.

Dr. Linda Felton Smith won the lifetime achievement award. She began a career in education as a substitute for Pike County and Troy City Schools. She retired from the Alabama Department of Education with more than 40 years in public education.