By Tricia Hall
Sojourner Truth’s Reporter
The Stranahan Theater and Great Hall event room was filled as members and officers of the Toledo Unit NAACP celebrated the 106th Freedom Fund Dinner on Saturday, October 23. The theme this year was, “Fighting Forward Towards Justice Equity & Change.”
Live entertainment by Sax B serenaded guests as they were escorted to their tables and dined on the buffet-style menu with options catered by We Are Ribs. Kristian Brown, the local 13abc news anchor served as mistress of ceremonies and Tonielle Barton led the Negro National Anthem, “Life Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” Toledo NAACP President Rev. Willie Perryman officially welcomed the attendees.
“Thank you to our executive committee, Jerusalem Church, and my wife Monica Perryman. On behalf of the Toledo branch of NAACP, we’re pleased to have you join us. Hope you enjoy this evening,” shared Perryman.
The banquet recognized two local individuals, Will Lucas and Oshae Jones. Lucas, an entrepreneur and content creator is involved in different ventures including: the CEO and founder of Creadio, a marketing technology and production agency; TolHouse, a private social club, AfroTech and Black Tech Green Money, which is connected to brand strategies.
In addition to his businesses, Lucas has served on several statewide and national leadership roles including: co-chairman of President Obama’s Ohio Small Business Committee in 2012 and has served on the Ohio Casino Control Commission since 2013.
Jones, the second honoree, earned the Bronze Medal in the women’s welterweight boxing event during the 2021 Summer Olympics.
“I’ve been blessed to use the talents that God has given to me. So many people have poured into me. I appreciate and love you guys. Thank you,” shared Lucas.
“I want to thank the community for supporting my daughter and I’m honored to accept this for her. She’s excited, that she is able to still inspire girls,” shared Demetria Blackshear, Jones’ mother.
Traditionally the banquet welcomes a featured speaker, however this year past Toledo NAACP president Ray Wood. Wood graduated from Macomber in 1972, served in the Air Force and initially worked as a forklift driver for Bostwick-Braun Co. He later started at General Motors’ Toledo Powertrain as a line worker, joined the UAW, took on leadership roles within the union and eventually became president of UAW Local 14 in 2006.
Wood retired in 2017. He served as first vice president of Toledo NAACP until becoming president in 2013 and retired seven years later. Wood serves as a deacon at United Vision Baptist Church and serves on several local boards, including: Toledo Community Coalition, Black and Brown Coalition and Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union.
“We started out doing exactly what Ms. WilliAnn Moore said. I stand on the shoulders of Theresa Gabriel too and so many others,” Wood mentioned during opening comments. “Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean that you’re done. There is still work too do. My message is plain and simple. Keep fighting the good fight. I never want to be told that we didn’t do enough.”
The 2021 Freedom Fund committee: Michael Alexander, chair; Anita Madison, co-chair; Rev. W.L. Perryman and Darlene Sweeney-Newbern, members. The 2021 Toledo Branch officers: Rev. Willie Perryman, president; Michael Alexander, first vice-president; Jasmine White, second vice-president; WilliAnn Moore, third vice-president; Frances Amison, treasurer; Erika White, assistant treasurer; Rev. Perry Harris III, secretary; and Kandice Saulsberry, assistant secretary.
The 2021 Executive Committee Chairs: Anita Madison, Criminal Justice; Calvin Brown, Economic Development; Clarence Gaffeney, Veteran Affairs; Darlene Sweeney-Newbern, Legal Redress; Doris Roberts, Youth Council Advisor; Erika White, Health; Pastor Jerry Boose, Religious Affairs; Pete Miller, Labor; Lenette Holden, Membership; Kim Penn, Historian; Sena Mourad Friedman, Housing; Sharon Roach, WIN; Terry Crosby, Carleton Finkbeiner and Theresa Gabriel, Executive Committee.