Courage Will Not Skip This Generation


June 12, 2017
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ST. LOUIS, MO. — The St. Louis County NAACP on Monday announced Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) will headline the 2017 Freedom Fund Leadership Dinner as keynote speaker on June 22, where she will receive the Margaret Bush Wilson Lifetime Achievement Award along with former Missouri Governor Bob Holden. The event will be held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, 100 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton, Mo., with a 5 p.m. reception preceding the dinner and program, which is set to begin at 6:45 p.m.

Waters has been a tireless advocate throughout her career for people of color, women, children and the poor. She is the senior African-American woman serving in Congress and serves as Ranking Member of the powerful House Committee on Financial Services. An integral member of Congressional Democratic Leadership, Congresswoman Waters serves as a member of the Steering & Policy Committee. She is also a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and member and past chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“It’s an incredible honor to be able to bring Congresswoman Waters back to her hometown of St. Louis for the Freedom Fund dinner,” said John Gaskin, 2017 event chair and NAACP national board member. “Congresswoman Waters had dedicated nearly four decades of her life to public service and advancing the cause of social justice and economic inclusion for all people across the nation. We need her voice more than ever.”

“I’m so pleased to honor Congresswoman Waters with this well-deserved award,” St. Louis County NAACP President Esther Haywood said. “She has worked to advance civil rights through substantive legislation that increases opportunities all across this nation and has become widely known as a fierce advocate who won’t back down.”

“Congresswoman Waters’ life work speaks directly to this year’s theme of Rise Together,” said Jimmy Loomis, honorary general chair and Clayton township committeeman. “She has committed herself to the public service of others in the name of equal opportunity, and it’s a privilege to recognize her work.”

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As previously announced, the St. Louis County NAACP will also honor state and community leaders for their dedication to increasing diversity and inclusion at the annual dinner, which draws more than 700 attendees annually.

Award winners and honorees for 2017 are:

  • Hon. Bob Holden, 53rd governor of Missouri, Margaret Bush Wilson Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Steven and Holly Cousins, Frankie Muse Freeman/Norman R. Seay Commitment to St. Louis Award
  • Lodging Hospitality Management, 2017 Corporate Partner for Diversity Inclusion
  • Attorney Ronald Norwood, Partner at Lewis Rice, Medgar Wiley Evers Legal Advocacy Award
  • The LINKS, Inc., Daisy Bates Commitment to Education Award
  • James “Jimmy” Williams, President, Estel Foods, Minority Entrepreneur of the Year

Additionally, the St. Louis County NAACP will recognize five Legacy Honorees

  • Ken Franklin, Vice President, Advocacy and Governmental Relations Bi State Development Agency
  • Laurna Godwin, President, Vector Communications Corporation
  • Jason Hall, Managing Director, Arch to Park Collaborative
  • Dr. Tina Clark Scott, Associate Superintendent Normandy Schools Collaborative
  • Hon. Gina Walsh, Democratic Floor Leader, Missouri State Senator 13th District


Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. 


ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The St. Louis County NAACP will host a community town hall meeting for parents, students and residents of the Ladue School District at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at the Ethical Society of St. Louis (9001 Clayton Road, St. Louis, 63117). 

Planned after the County NAACP and Ladue school officials met on Friday regarding the recent racially charged incident that have occurred at Horton Watkins High, the meeting will last approximately two hours. The Ladue School District leadership will be on hand.

Attendees must prove residency in the district or enrollment by bringing one of the following forms of identification: A school-issued ID, a utility bill or an official correspondence from the district such as a letter, progress report or report card.

"We want to ensure that District stakeholders, parents, and students are heard,” St. Louis County NAACP President Esther Haywood said. “Students have legitimate concerns and they deserve to be heard by the NAACP. Information shared will be utilized to work with students and the district to develop a greater plan of action for the school district to improve race relations and hopefully African American achievement. We are happy to have the full cooperation and support of the Ladue School District Board of Education leadership and administration for this venture. We know that Wednesday's conversation will benefit them greatly."

"We know that coming together for a candid intelligent conversation can not only help but move us forward,” NAACP national board member and Ladue High alumnus John Gaskin said. “This sort of setting will allow students, parents and residents to have the appropriate environment to discuss their concerns in greater depth and detail. This matter is urgent and the St. Louis County NAACP must take swift action."

Washington University Law School Professor Dr. Kimberly Jade Norwood will be the moderator for the meeting. Those interested in speaking will be allowed to do so from the audience with an appropriate time limit enforced.

The news media is welcome to attend this event.


Founded in 1909 the NAACP is America's oldest and largest premiere civil rights organization. The Missouri NAACP has over 15 units across the state that work to move the organization's civil rights agenda on a grass roots level.

St. Louis County NAACP requests meeting with Ladue school district leadership

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The St. Louis County NAACP formally reached out to Ladue school officials last Thursday to request a meeting between the two organizations regarding a racially- charged incident that took place that very day on a Ladue district school bus.

“As a former member of an area school board for over 20 years, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of insuring that students feel accepted and respected at school,” St. Louis County NAACP President Esther Haywood said. "It is our paramount priority to insure that all students feel safe in the Ladue school district and that we work closely with district leadership to insure that there’s a policy to deal with these incidents.”

John Gaskin III, NAACP national board member, says the St. Louis County branch is in the process of scheduling a meeting with Ladue school district officials.

“I was deeply saddened and troubled to hear about this unfortunate incident,” said Gaskin, a 2011 graduate of Ladue High School and the institution’s first-ever African American commencement speaker. “That is not the environment that was fostered during my time there and I know it’s not currently. It’s imperative that organizations like the NAACP work with school districts to maintain and protect an environment of tolerance and racial inclusion.”

Upon meeting, the St. Louis County branch plans to understand the school district’s policy or disciplinary process with these cases. If not already in place, the branch will propose a diversity and racial bias training program for students.

“If the Ladue school district does not have one, we are happy to help them develop one, along with all school districts in St. Louis County,” Gaskin said.

In a fragile moment in the history of this country, the St. Louis County NAACP’s top priority is that students regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender and ethnicity are treated equally and with respect.

Said Gaskin: “Following last Tuesday’s general election, racially-charged incidents have

occurred in schools across the country. We certainly don’t want St. Louis to play a role."


Founded in 1909 the NAACP is America's oldest and largest premiere civil rights organization. The Missouri NAACP has over 15 units across the state that work to move the organization's civil rights agenda on a grass roots level. 

St. Louis County NAACP Annual Fund Leadership Dinner Announces CNN’s Wolf Blitzer as Lifetime Achievement Honoree on June 23, 2016

(ST. LOUIS, MO)  St. Louis County NAACP is pleased to announce CNN’s Wolf Blitzer will be the recipient of the Organization’s 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award for the 80th Annual Freedom Fund Leadership Dinner. The dinner will be held on Thursday, June 23, 2016 at the Marriott Grand Hotel in Downtown St. Louis, located at 800 Washington Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63101. 

Blitzer is the anchor of CNN's Situation Room, a nightly newscast that focuses on the day’s top news, with CNN correspondents around the US and the world. Blitzer also hosts Wolf, a daily afternoon news cast seen in more than 200 countries and territories.

“We are grateful that Mr. Blitzer has agreed to accept the Organization’s lifetime achievement award and deliver remarks at our historical dinner,” said John Gaskin III, Chairman of the 2016 Freedom Fund Leadership Dinner. “He has been a true champion of civil rights and has supported the many causes of equal justice for all,” added Gaskin. 

Before Blitzer became anchor of Wolf Blitzer Reports, Blitzer co-anchored The World Today. He served as CNNs senior White House correspondent, covering Bill Clinton from his election in 1992 until 1999. He joined CNN in 1990 as the networks military affairs correspondent at the Pentagon. Blitzer is the recipient of several awards, including the prestigious Ernie Pyle Journalism Award from the American Veteran Awards in 2002 for excellence in military reporting.

In 1996, Blitzer won an Emmy Award for his coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing, and in 1994, American Journalism Review cited him and CNN as the overwhelming choice of readers for the coveted Best in the Business Awards for best network coverage of the Clinton Administration. Blitzer is the author of two books, Between Washington and Jerusalem: A Reporters Notebook and Territory of Lies. The latter was cited by The New York Times Book Review as one of the most notable books of 1989.

 “The 80th Annual Freedom Fund Leadership Dinner is a testament of St. Louis County NAACP’s dedication to the citizens of St. Louis,” said Esther Haywood, President, St. Louis County NAACP. “This is going to be a memorable night for everyone who attends the event in June; we are truly excited and gracious.”

 For more information on the St. Louis County NAACP, 80th Annual Freedom Fund Leadership Dinner, contact the Branch’s headquarters at, 314-389-1552 or visit their website at: