The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Stockton Branch hosted its annual Freedom Fund Gala with the theme of “Thriving Together: Our Power Cannot be Shut Down.

The event highlighted strength and courage the black community harvests as a unit, reminding everyone there is always strength in numbers, according to organizers of the gala which took place last weekend at the Mercedes Benz Dealership located on Trinity Parkway in Stockton.

“I think that it is really important to thrive together because all is greater than the sum of the physical parts. When we put our minds together we can achieve more than what you can imagine,” said Charles Davis, CEO of Irepair, a local tech repair company.

Dr. Linnea Williams, a Kaiser Permenante family doctor and NAACP member, says that today African Americans including herself have faced struggles that created many barriers that pushed the growth of community backward.

“Just waking up in the morning and going to work everyday is an accomplishment and an achievement when there are so many challenges in our world today that are working against us, preventing us from succeeding,” Williams said.

A place setting from the NAACP Freedom Fund Gala. (Photo by Robyn Jones)

Being present at the event, Williams said, she saw everyone as family as they mingled, laughed, and created memories with each other.

“I think in this time and this climate where so many things are working to divide our country, I think it is important we remember that we need each other in order to move forward to make our community and the wider world a better place,” she said.

Freedom Fighter Awards

The NAACP celebrated six Stockton community members for their work to help their local community and the African Americans that reside within them.

The 2023 Freedom Fighter Award recipients are:

– AngelAnn Flores, president of the Stockton Unified School District Board of Trustees.

– The Rev. John Easter, founder of the John L. Easters Homeless Veterans Program.

– Stockton Vice Mayor Kimberly Warmsley.

– Jasmine Dellafosse, education activist.

– Gary Cooper, who served three years on the San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury and is vice president of the California Grand Jurors Association.

– Chuck Davis, Chief Technology Officer at Bayesiant and San Joaquin County Public Health Services.

Stockton NAACP also honored William J. Murray, associate justice (retired) of the 3rd District Court of Appeals, with the Hall of Fame Award.

Stockton Unified School District President AngelAnn Flores (right) receives the Freedom Fighter Award from NAACP Stockton Branch President Bobby Bivens (left). (Photo by Robyn Jones)

“I have always advocated to ensure that our school and judicial systems are equitably treating our African American students the way they deserve, giving them the right to the support they need, and fighting against the justice system for how they identify them and work with them,” Flores said.

In her position, she said, she sees challenges hindering the African American community within SUSD, but the school system alone is one of the biggest obstacles.

“The biggest challenge is getting the system to recognize the needs, support, and the inequities that support our African American students and ensuring that our school system is in place,” she said.

Dellafosse dedicated a decade of her life fighting systemic racism as a youth organizer in South Stockton, later becoming an important face in multiple campaigns around California and within her hometown Stockton.

“I remember there was a time I was able to go into the Alex Haley farm where I was able to meet these civil rights leaders. In this area was the underground railroad, I remember they made us crawl through these tunnels and as soon as we got out of the tunnels I was asked a simple question by Rev. Jim Lawson,” Dellafosse said.

“He asked me if I knew where my freedom of liberation was, what would I do, and I remember I went running toward the end of the field and I came right back home to Stockton.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *