N.C. NAACP director to speak at 40th Freedom Fund Banquet

By Scott Witten - [email protected]

LAURINBURG — The executive director for the North Carolina NAACP is the featured speaker for this year’s Scotland County Freedom Fund Banquet.

Michelle Laws will speak Nov. 22 at the St. John’s Association Building, formerly the Highlands. The event is from 3:30 to 6 p.m.

The theme for this year’s 40 annual banquet is “Pursuing Liberty in the Face of Injustice.” Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for youth under 18.

Proceeds go to support NAACP events and programs, including scholarships and the Winter Wonderland Christmas toy drive.

Passionate advocate

Herman Tyson, president of the Scotland County branch of the NAACP, called Laws “a passionate advocate for the poor, women, and children.”

“Minister Laws believes that one of the greatest tragedies of social progress is for people to ascend the social and economic ladder and forget those who are left behind by ignoring the plight of the poor and less privileged,” Tyson said.

Law’s service to the community has won her several awards including the 2010 NAACP President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership; 2010 Women on the Move award from the Charlotte Mecklenburg NAACP; 2010 Woman of Distinction Award; and the 2009 Village Pride and 2009 Indy Award.

Laws is a native of Chapel Hill and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; a Master of Arts Degree in Sociology from North Carolina Central University; and is a PhD candidate in the Department of Social and Behavioral Health at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

While a student at UNC, Laws helped establish a freestanding black cultural center on campus and organized students to wear green ribbons at a court trial in support of Keith Edwards, UNC’s first black female police officer, who claimed white officers with less experience were promoted ahead of her. After a long battle, Edwards won a settlement from the university.

In 2005, she helped change the name of Airport Road to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. She also championed the cause of Charles Brown, a black barber who says he was racially profiled by police while walking home. Brown’s case resurrected the call for better police oversight and community engagement.

Laws has taught undergraduate sociology courses at North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University and in federal and state prisons. She also served for several years as the legislative liaison for the NC Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services.

Laws, an associate minister at Union Baptist Church in Durham, said her greatest rewards stem from her work as a minister. She said her life’s guiding principles are lessons taught by the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways, he will lift some bruised and beaten brother to a higher and nobler life.”



By Scott Witten

[email protected]

Reach editor Scott Witten at 910-506-3023

Reach editor Scott Witten at 910-506-3023

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