Healthy living theme of annual NAACP banquet

Published 12:23 pm Monday, April 26, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The Niles branch of the NAACP stressed the importance of healthy living at its annual Freedom Fund Banquet on Saturday.
The theme of the banquet, which took place at the Niles Inn and Conference Center, was "Dreamers, Catchers and Keepers" and was attended by nearly 100 community members.
The keynote speaker was former Niles physician Dr. Vincent Henderson, who is now a family practice specialist with Plaza Family Medicine, Memorial Medical Group in South Bend, Ind.
He gave a thought provoking speech centering on health care, but also touching on social issues like drugs, school violence and the justice system.
He opened by saying that some of the ideas he presents may be controversial, but that they are only meant to stimulate thought.
Henderson said one of the greatest challenges facing our society today is illegal drug use and the sense of hopelessness that it creates. He stated that many times the police know who the drug dealers are, but are inhibited from doing anything by the constraints of the legal system.
He rattled off the staggering yearly incomes of some famous athletes and celebrities and said "it would be embarrassing to tell you what the police make."
What if arresting officers were allowed to keep half of the money they seized from drug dealers, Henderson asked.
He brought up the possibility of making high school a privilege by reserving the educational experience for students who have a desire to learn and a commitment to good behavior.
Henderson also stated the need for reform in a justice system that gives more rights to criminals than it does to victims.
Henderson said this is a very realistic goal, but it will take commitment and teamwork within the community to reach this goal.
He wrapped up his speech by telling the crowd that little things can make a difference and that people who dream can have a large impact on society.
After Henderson's speech, Niles NAACP branch president Saundria Wilson recognized a few longtime NAACP members for their contributions to the organization.
She presented the 2004 President's Dream Keeper Award to Norma Taylor, who served several years as the NAACP's State secretary and also spent time as a youth counselor for the organization.
Parker Taylor, who served as branch president for 25 years, was given an honorary gavel and recognized as President Emeritus.
Wilson also gave special recognition to three graduating high school seniors in attendance. Cody Brown and Fadzai Kangira of Buchanan High School and Steven Henderson of Marion High School in South Bend, Ind. were all congratulated for their accomplishments.