$(document).ready(function() { $(window).scroll(function() { if ($('body').height() <= ($(window).height() + $(window).scrollTop()+500)) { $('#upnext').css('display','block'); }else { $('#upnext').css('display','none'); } }); });
Not-for-Profit, Award-Winning Community News and Views for Windham County, Vermont • Since 2006
Photo 1

Kevin O’Connor/Special to The Commons

Local racial justice activists recognized by the Windham County NAACP include, top from left, Dottie Morris, Shela Linton, Mary Gannon and Lise Sparrow and, bottom from left, Z Muhammad and Antonio Ricardo.

News

Windham County NAACP honors local racial justice leaders

BRATTLEBORO—The Windham County NAACP recognized seven local racial justice leaders Saturday when a capacity crowd gathered for the group’s first annual Freedom Fund Dinner.

More than 200 people filled the town’s American Legion as the organization presented lifetime achievement awards to educator and activist Mary Gannon, Keene State College head of diversity and equity Dottie Morris, Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity executive director Curtiss Reed Jr., and Guilford Community Church Pastor Lise Sparrow.

The group presented a Courage and Action award to the Root Social Justice Center co-founder Shela Linton and Youth Courage and Action awards to student activists Z Muhammad and Antonio Ricardo.

Organizers had set up 20 chairs for a public presentation by keynote speaker Jonathan Smith, former special litigation chief of the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division and current executive director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

But the audience had multiplied tenfold by the time Smith talked about leading the government’s civil investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department following the 2014 fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white officer.

“We have a long road ahead,” Smith told the crowd, “but I am amazed how many people have come out here.”

The Rev. Shannon MacVean-Brown, Vermont’s first black female Episcopal bishop, offered the program’s invocation and benediction.

Musicians Susan and Paul Dedell and the St. Michael’s Episcopal Church youth choir sang, while former Bennington Rep. Kiah Morris ended the event with a call for continued activism.

The Windham County NAACP is a newly created branch of the largest civil rights organization in the country. The dinner raised money to fund local efforts and a youth scholarship initiative.

“We must remember our humanity and commitment to justice for everyone,” local branch president Steffen Gillom told the crowd, “and we must do it hand-in-hand.”

Like what we do? Help us keep doing it!

We rely on the donations and financial support of our readers to help make The Commons available to all. Please join us today.

What do you think? Leave us a comment

Editor’s note: Our terms of service require you to use your real names. We will remove anonymous or pseudonymous comments that come to our attention. We rely on our readers’ personal integrity to stand behind what they say; please do not write anything to someone that you wouldn’t say to his or her face without your needing to wear a ski mask while saying it. Thanks for doing your part to make your responses forceful, thoughtful, provocative, and civil. We also consider your comments for the letters column in the print newspaper.

Comments

We are currently reconfiguring our comments software. Please check back if you’d like to read or leave comments on this story. —The editors

Originally published in The Commons issue #537 (Wednesday, November 20, 2019). This story appeared on page A5.

Share this story

Links

Related stories

More by Kevin O'Connor