The Annual Freedom Fund Banquet hosted by the Westside Branch NAACP takes place from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday May 23, at the Hawthorne Race Course, 3501 S. Laramie. The event will commemorate the national organization’s 100th year birthday. Among the scheduled guests is former alderman Dorothy Tillman. West Branch President Karl Brinson is encouraging members to get the word out. For more information, call 883-261-5890.

In related news, the Westside Branch launches its Political Action Education Series this month. Its purpose is to teach the public how to become more effective advocates for their causes and how to influence public policy. The eight-week course includes such topics as, “Voting Basics 101” and “How to Lobby Your Cause.” The series begins May 14, and goes from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Austin Community Ministries, 5308 W. Chicago Ave. For more information, call 773-261-5890.

40 and fabulous milestone for Austin activist

Deborah Williams, an Austin resident and community activist, recently celebrated her 40th birthday on April 16 at the Chez Roue Banquet Hall, 5200 W. Chicago Ave. Williams has worked for many individuals and organizations in the community, and was campaign manager for state Rep. LaShawn Ford’s successful 2006 campaign in Austin’s 8th district. She also is chairperson of the youth division for the Westside Branch NAACP.

Black History Month…in April

When it comes to black history, our motto at Austin Weekly News is: Black History Month is every month, not just in February. Here are a few individuals and events recognized for the month of April.

April 4, 1968 – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassination in Memphis, Tenn.

April 8, 1993 – Singer Marian Anderson died in Portland, Ore. Anderson was the first black person to sing at the Metropolitan Opera in 1955. Anderson is probably best remembered for being denied to appear at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. in 1939 by The Daughters of the American Revolution. The group objected to a black person performing. Then-First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned her membership in protest and scheduled an appearance at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday for Anderson to sing. When I attended the 1963 March on Washington, Marian Anderson opened the program, singing The National Anthem.  

April 9, 1898 – Paul Robeson was born in Princeton, New Jersey. The multitalented artist and activist, in 1915, was awarded a four-year scholarship to Rutgers University. In addition to his academic achievements, Robeson was also an outstanding athlete and was the first black football player at Rutgers. A great actor and concert singer, he performed in Othello, Porgy & Bess and Show Boat. Robeson died Jan. 23, 1976 at age 77. 

April 15, 1922 – Chicago Mayor Harold Washington was born in Chicago and went on to become the city’s first black mayor. He served from 1983 until his death on Nov. 25, 1987. Washington previously served in the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate, as well as two terms in the U.S. Congress. Washington grew up in Bronzeville on the South Side and attended DuSable High School.

Delores McCain