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Garland’s NAACP Freedom Fund Brunch encourages growth, unity

By Sylvia Dunnavant Hines

The Honorable Weldon Bradley and Ricky McNeal present the first youth scholarship to Nate Hollingsworth.

Three hundred City officials, community leaders and political activists came together for the 32nd Annual Freedom Fund Brunch hosted by the Garland Unit of the NAACP in a spirit of collaboration and unity.

“I think in the country in which we live, there are times that we get tired as individuals,” said keynote speaker Dr. Desmond Dawkins. “We as a people have coined the phrase, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. We all know what fatigue is like, that is why I think that we all need to be revived.

“We hear bad news all the time. We hear about the declining economy and various things going on in the world. We all know the things that are taking place, not only in our own Texas Capitol but in the nation’s Capitol in Washington DC. We can no longer afford to stand on the side lines and be complacent. It is time for us as a race of people to collectively come together, so that we can move forward together.”

Dawkins, who is Pastor of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Fate, Texas, encouraged the standing room only audience to be revived, restored and rejuvenated as they focused on moving forward together.

Sabrina Carter Henry, owner of Nana’s Country Citchen located in Richardson, received Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

“In order for us to move forward, as a country, as a race, and as individuals, we have to constantly rewind. Not that we are focused on the past, but we have to take time to look back. People that don’t learn from their history will repeat the same mistakes that they made in the past.”

He continued, “After we have reviewed and reminded in our minds about our history, it serves as a reminder of what we need to do in order for us to become better and stronger together.”

Former First Lady, Peggy Jones, Garland City Council Member, Deborah Morris, and former Garland Mayor Ronald E. Jones celebrate with the NAACP Garland Unit over the success of the 2023 Freedom Fund Brunch.

This year the Garland NAACP Unit honored four adult community leaders and gave nine students scholarships for achieving academic excellence.

“I was delighted about the event for multiple reasons. First and foremost, we had 9 outstanding students that we presented scholarships to this year,” said Ricky McNeal, President of the Garland NAACP Unit.

“These young people exceeded academically. Their grade point averages were incredible. In addition to that, as when we interviewed them and their parents back in August, we found out that their community activities were extremely complementary to their academic achievements.

Ricky McNeal was excited to congratulate Dr. Chester Johnson on being the 2023 Man of the year.

Each one of them was active in their high schools and showed leadership skills in their schools as well.”

Many of the students that received scholarships had grade point averages that exceeded the 4.0 scale. One student, who has already received a letter from Harvard University, had a GPA of almost 5.0.

“Having three students in college, I realize that the scholarships are only going to help supplement the cost of the awardee’s education,” said Dawkins. “If we are going to move forward, we cannot lose sight of the next generation. We must continue to give back to the generation behind us. While we are pointing fingers at the generation behind us, fingers are also being pointed at us. We have to realize that we did not do everything that we could to bring them up and bring them along this journey with us.”

The 32 Annual Freedom Fund Brunch also focused on adult community service leaders, according to McNeal. “Our entrepreneur winner, our community service winner, our man of the year and our educator of the year – are all individuals who have made a tremendous impact in the Garland area.

Nine students received scholarships
Nine students received scholarships at the 32nd Annual Freedom Fund Brunch hosted by the NAACP Garland Unit.

“They have served consistently, and they have served in a way that has benefited our community. It was delightful for the NAACP to recognize these students as well as these adults in our community that are making a difference.”


McNeal admits even though the event was successful the Garland Unit of the NAACP will be focusing on the work that is still to be done.

“We have to realize that in life we are going to encounter some hurdles. We are going to have some pains in our communities. These things are unavoidable. However, if we just lock arms as like-minded people and move forward together, we can help eradicate some of the injustices that we are facing.”

NAACP Garland Unit President, Ricky McNeal, presents the 2023 Community Service Award to Wathenia Woods Clark.
Dr. Chester Bernard Johnson, who has been a community activist since the 1970s, was named Man of the Year.

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