Texarkana, U.S.A. – Monday, November 3, 2014
By: Greg Bischof – Texarkana Gazette
When it comes to pursuing justice and equality in society, Dr. Larry Mathis put a special emphasis on history as keynote speaker,at the 2014 Freedom Fund Awards Banquet Saturday.
“The fight for equality and justice can be seen in people like John Brown was a white preacher, in Kansas, appalled by slavery, and this year, the fight is still remembered as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas,” Mathis said as he spoke at the event, which has been sponsored for the last 24 years, by the local NAACP. “However, in 2014, we also find there are more young black men in jail then there were slaves in America in 1850.Today more black men between the ages of 17 and 24 are in prison then in college. In the not-to-distance-future, it’s been predicted that one out of every three black men will be in prison.”
With the facts and figures in hand, Mathis then asked his audience – “What is underneath justice and equality to keep it going? and what will need fixing if both are to continue?
Mathis suggested that history has shown that having a good PSI (Proper Self Image) helps and still needs to be promoted more than ever before.
“It takes a clear understanding of history because history identifies who we are, history gives us purpose and history inspires people to be great,” he said.
Regarding inspiration, Mathis cited the brave and heroic example of Harriet Tubman – a runaway slave who would later become a nurse, scout and spy for the Union Army in South Carolina during the Civil War. She would later go on to advance the civil rights of black women and raise funds to help former slaves, orphans and the elderly. She personally escorted more than 200 runaway slaves to the North, became a conductor for the underground railroad and had an uncanny ability for finding food and shelter, for people, while conducting hazardous slave escape missions – undaunted by all the rewards put out for her capture.
“She was a lady who could operate with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other,” Mathis said.
Besides PSI, Mathis also cited PSE (Positive Self Expectancy) and PMA (Proper Mental Attitude) as additional ingredients for continuing the tradition of justice and equality.
“We also need connectiveness,” he said. “We need to get some skin in the game.”
Mathis cited long time local educator Dan Haskins, now 85, as man with skin in the game.
“We also need to understand both struggle and progress and the difference between position and power,” Mathis said. Pharaoh had position but Moses had power, Lyndon Johnson had position but Martin Luther King Jr., had power.”
Following Mathis presentation, NAACP presented eight different awards to eight local recipients.
The John J. Jones, Sr. Community Service Award went to Shirley Jackson, the A.E. Alton// Mott Mosley Educational Award went to Brenda Stewart, the Dr. G.W. Thompson Professional Award went to Dr. Brian L. Matthews and Dr. Calvin Rolark Business and Economic Award went to Roy and Emma Lawrence.
The four other awards and their recipients included the Special Achievement Award to Monica Washington, the S.A. Stuckey Religious Affairs Award to Dr. M.F. Brewster, the Dr. Shirley Finn Trailblazer Award to Vincent Johnson and the Torchbearer Award to Curtis D. Ferguson.
Each year, the event honors eight local recipients who have contributed to the betterment and furtherance of equality and justice through their involvement in community service, education, business and economic improvements, religious affairs and other areas.