NAACP honorees, from left Lise Jinno of Foundation 65, Sherrill Johnson, NAACP Life Member Elsie Liddell, ETHS senior Lauren Davis, Moran Center Executive Director Patrick Keenan-Devlin, and NAACP member Gerri Sizemore. Photo by Genie Lemieux, Evanston Photographic Studios

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With the theme “Our Lives Matter, Our Votes Count,” the Evanston/North Shore branch of the NAACP held its 52nd annual Freedom Fund Banquet on Nov. 5.

Evanston Township High School senior Lauren Davis, City Health Department Director Evonda Thomas-Smith, Moran Center Executive Director Patrick Keenan-Devlin, NAACP Life Member Elsie Liddell, and Foundation 65 received Community Service awards in recognition of their service to the Evanston community.

Keynote speaker State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) and NAACP President John Fuller each stressed the importance of voting in the Nov. 8 election. While not referring to either major-party presidential candidate by name, Mr. Fuller said, “We still live in a pretty good country. We don’t need to ‘make America great again’ but to emphasize what we already have.”

Referring to the then-upcoming election, Sen. Raoul said, “The NAACP has a proud history, and the history of its accomplishments is on that ballot. … “Our values are on that ballot.”

Sen. Raoul also spoke about the different approaches between the “old” veterans of the civil rights movements, and the millennials who are becoming active. “What we cannot afford is the separation of young and old. … What we need to strategize is intergenerational leadership.

The civil rights issues are not over.”

Sen. Raoul told the audience of about 300 people that Dr. Martin Luther King said poverty “has no place in this society.” Crime and poor health are two results of poverty, he said:

“Poor people have less access to good, nutritious food, health care and good air. … When you control for poverty, black people have a slightly lower crime rate than whites.”

Again urging people to vote, Sen. Raoul said, “Let us be more mindful of the power we possess – to vote. Let’s use it on Tuesday; let’s not forget it on Wednesday.”

Although Illinois went to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump was elected president in the Nov. 8 election.