Thoughts after submitting our “Humanitarian Awards” news release…
Last Wednesday night, my husband finished editing and handed my draft for the “Hats Off” newspaper submission back to me. “You need an ‘s’ on finalists in the first paragraph, but what I really notice,” he pointed out, “is how many names are in this report.”
Yes, the newspaper story submitted Thursday this week had oodles of names—but, too many? How else could we have pulled off such an amazing celebration without all their talent, all the hours and miles and energy— donated from so many people from outside our branch! My judgment was to blow horns and shine bright lights on those people as well as on the winners of the Humanitarian awards.
More than a little mindful of word count for press submissions, I had hardly mentioned the branch insiders in the public press release. Now is my chance to “blow and shine” about those among us who gave and gave. We gave with amazing brilliance, class, pizzazz, aplomb, verve and vitality; with excitement, creativity, sparkle; even with hutzpah! And, endurance of spirit!
The Jackson NAACP’s first party—who would ‘a guessed it could be done?
We’ve discovered among us a wealth of talent in the hearts and minds and souls of men and women who found out the hard way, but learned nevertheless, to work toward a common goal. Some of us had just begun to know each other as persons—we were forging relationships as teammates, as workmates. At times I caught a clearer glimpse of myself and realized how much I needed to leave “at the door” some artificial preconception or predisposition, in order just to keep going. More than once Joyce reminded me that I’d stepped over ‘the line.’ Maybe like the rest of you, I’ve felt pushed and demanded of; challenged and threatened and angered—but I have also been elated and pleased with mid-term results or some fresher insight. Who among us cannot add to these emotions? Over more than six months, many times we needed to be reminded, and Enrique would ask us to focus on the “prize.”
Finally last Sunday afternoon; we grabbed that prize! In the process many of us also found new friends and teammates; new respect for others, new abilities within ourselves. Always, our leader was available—with steady and patient support; with his “prisoner of hope” refrain to calm those whose anguish could have imprisoned him.
Enrique kept many speaking engagements and Avram managed always to take charge when needed. More than once Penny took up our slack—while simultaneously organizing efficiently and effectively for an education event. Roger, Roy and Avram persisted with a thriving NAACP political action presence at two voter ID events. Likewise, Leroy, Lorna, Stanley, Cassie and Joyce in the legal redress arena—all three in the service of keeping our NAACP mission alive—and very well. Stella, busy painting and packing, somehow always showed up—the epitome of what is known to be “half the battle.” Others cheered and encouraged the rest of us; for example: Roy, for Joyce and me. Osborn also produced spreadsheets—making sense of the chaotic numbers and details we were sending to him.
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I ponder all the splendid contributions. To my mind comes first the sophisticated and remarkable new website that Cassie created; over which she slaved for hours—usually in the wee hours—for weeks, maybe months. And; Angela’s “Hats Off” poster! Her image elevated ‘Hats’ to a new level of festivity and symbolism—a work of art forever! From the beginning Janice envisioned a party—to bring acclaim both to humanitarians and to our NAACP branch—an upbeat closure to the often painfully difficult and long process.
As summer waned, others took on significant responsibilities for the party itself: Charles Lee steered the receiving and processing of nominations—a huge responsibility—chose the judges, relayed the results! Mary Sue became Janice’s invaluable ally and advisor for the outstanding commemorative booklet design. Marion was hesitant about becoming the Auction Chairperson—a job kin to herding cats. Yet just hours before bidding began, she was smiling broadly and proclaiming; “Now I know how to do this job!” Sharon forewent a romantic evening so she could be everywhere she needed to be—except with Vincent—so that Jackson NAACP would have photos galore to use for PR and for all-time. Their extra chairs once-again were hauled by Roy; Joyce towed the Liberty Church lectern. Our gratitude to greeters Selma, Joe and Barbara; to Mary, Dan and every person, among all the party movers and shakers, whose names I am not including.
For all those entering the hotel on Sunday there was an unbelievable sight to behold—the Grand Finale to all our work, now presented to the public! Marge and Myrtle are the team who transformed the Best Western that evening into the best-tasting and best-looking venue it will ever be! Sophisticated and elegant and simple. Hatboxes and decanters of lemons and oranges floating in water; a fern beneath the lectern. Their combined experience glowed.
This feeling of pride and gratefulness—almost a week later—must be what Janice calls “The After-glow”!