By Tom Davidson
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
History is filled with trying times, lost generations and the need for change, Andrea Carson told a packed house at the Park Inn by Radisson in Shenango Township.
“Change is the one thing that will never change,” Carson said.
The executive director and partner of Carson Criminal Justice Consultants, Columbus, Ohio, Carson is the retired communications director for the Ohio prison system.
She was the keynote speaker for the 50th Freedom Fund banquet of the Mercer County Unit of the NAACP.
She gave a rousing, wide-ranging talk of reflections on the theme of the night: “A new vision for the next generation.”
One of the keys to acquiring that vision is service, she said.
“Helping someone (else) to be the best they can be,” is a key to “acquire and obtain justice,” for all, she said.
That’s one of the aims of the NAACP, which is the country’s oldest civil rights organization.
Its mission is “to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights to all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.”
The Mercer County Unit is led by Monica Y. Gregory.
Gregory urged those who support the NAACP to “do what it takes to harvest a commitment towards injustice that is still plaguing America and Americans.”
Doing that requires perseverance, Carson said.
“Our children are killing each other day after day after day,” Carson said. “African American males are filling up prisons.
“Maybe they’re not lost, we just have to lift them up,” she said, and clear up “the blurred vision” they have.
The youth of today live during a time that “feels hopeless and helpless,” to some, such that they “resort to killing as a sport.”
Members of previous generations who have endured hardship need to share the story of their struggles with the youth of today, she said.
“We all have a story; we weren’t always on top,” she said. “We need to share that with this ‘now’ generation.”
Adults need to live as examples for youth and “practice what we preach,” she said.
“We’re going to have to pitch in deep and help each other and become servants,” she said.
It takes “strong-willed individuals who know the meaning of service,” she said.
“And time. And guess what, the time is now,” she said.
“It’s time to take away the blindfold. No more excuses. No more why fors and what nows,” Carson said. “The pain of our past must keep us focused on our vision.”
“Now’s the time to uphold the promise and support each other,” she said. “Marvelous, mighty and magnificent things lie ahead.”
This was the 50th Freedom Fund banquet held locally and it comes on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington that was a touchstone of the civil rights movement.
“These are special times to be a president,” Gregory said.
On Friday, the group honored Farrell philanthropist and astronomer Ted Pedas, who annually supports Farrell schools with a unique cash donation that aims to help honor each student in the district.
“I have always appreciated what my school and my community gave to me,” Pedas said in accepting the NAACP community service award.
The group also honored former president George Footman with a special “president’s award” for his service to the organization.
The 2013 NAACP Scholarship Awards went to Alisha Tarver, a 2013 Farrell High School graduate now studying at Youngstown State University, and Nelson Murphy, a 2013 Hickory High School graduate now studying at the University of Pittsburgh.