There is nothing like a Sunday afternoon tea. Oh my, I bet the English never had tea like this. The NAACP Westside Branch held their first Membership Tea Sunday, Nov. 13, at 1140 N. Lamon headquarters. Although the event was billed as a ‘tea,’ there were all kinds of food to eat, from Fried Chicken and Swedish Meatballs to Pound Cakes and ice cream.
Carol Ann Harwell, 1st vice president of NAACP, hosted the afternoon. Chair of the Economic Development Committee Deborah Williams welcomed everyone and gave a brief synopsis of the Westside Branch’s various involvements this year, Hurricane Katrina relief and minority legal battles among them.
The Austin Weekly News asked some of the board members to explain their functions, and their decision to host the Tea.
Carol Ann Harwell, 1st vice president of NAACP: This is our first annual membership tea, and over the years we’ve always celebrated those who have assisted us by going outside the branch. This tea was meant to bring our members together to recognize those who work steadfast time after time, year after year on committee work that sometimes seems unappreciated. In doing so we also were attempting to get memberships. In the past, people have always asked “what are you doing?” We needed to bring them in and show them that the Chicago Westside Branch is a integral part of force that is to be reckoned with here on the West Side. So this is our first annual membership tea and we hope to continue and do this next year. And we hope it gets better and better.
Karl A. Brinson, 2nd vice president: “I’m head of the Freedom Fund Organization…We host the Freedom Fund Banquet every year where we bring in guest celebrities to help raise the money where we give out awards to people in our community who’ve done some outstanding work…This is our way of recognizing them and at the same time we’re generating funds for our Westside Branch NAACP.”
Phyllis M. Logan, Chairperson for all the complaints: “I take all the complaints whether it’s housing, new construction, land development, discrimination or handicap accessibilities. When the complaints come in they get directed to me and I get to direct them to the city departments, such as the Department of Housing – if it’s a abandon building, or if it’s a developer – I get to guide them in that. If it’s a homeowner looking for assistance as far as down payment or closing cost, or any grant funds that are available with the Dept. of Housing, the New Homes for Chicago Programs, the Fannie Mae Program and the Ida Programs. Any subsides or monies, I help to direct that to the public.
AWN: You’re one of our unsung heroes, so how do you find time to run your Bryant-Logan Realty business?
Logan: I know, I’m on the phone constantly and it’s a good thing. I really enjoy this. My family is my biggest supporter…When I run short on time with something, they are right there to pick up the pieces.
Atty. David R. Askew, chair of the Legal Redress Committee: We accept complaint forms from various people who do not necessarily have to be members of the NAACP, but they have filed complaints of discrimination. Primarily it’s racial discrimination, but we handle race gender, age, religious and housing – any type of events where people believe that they have been prejudiced.
AWN: Have you had many this year?
Askew: Oh yes, I get applications faxed to my office, roughly 2 to 3 complaint forms per week. Oftentimes it may be a misunderstanding. Sometimes people believe that an incident was racial and it may be just bad business. Sometimes companies just have very poor customer service. Other times it’s purely racism, and sometimes there is a middle ground. For instance, we received a complaint [from a woman who] worked as a waitress, and the restaurant told her she couldn’t “wear her hair that way.” And so depending on the hairstyle that owner wanted her to wear, that could be racial discrimination.
Wrapping up the event, 6-year-old Janeicia Williams, daughter of Deborah Williams, lead the audience in the NAACP cheerleader chant. Although the president Mrs. Vera Davis was away with her husband (Cong. Danny Davis) celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary, the board members carried on. Carol Ann Harwell also presented a check for $500 to Hurricane Katrina family member Krystle Calvin, whose husband Jamiah is currently serving in Iraq. The Calvin’s lost everything and Krystle is also pregnant with their second child. These are the type of important things the Westside Branch of NAACP has been doing throughout the year.
Board members are: Carol Ann Harwell; Karl Brinson; Ann Marie Ford, treasurer; Patricia B. Easley, secretary; Gwendolyn Burrell, assistant secretary; Tiffiney Taylor, WOW coordinator; Carolyn Hankins-Page, membership chairperson; and Steven M. Page, ACT-SO chairperson.