Society: NAACP launches freedom dinner festivities

Chuck Bennett

The Detroit branch of the NAACP presented its annual kickoff and passing of the gavel ceremony Thursday to officially launch the 60th Annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner. Held at the Roostertail, which has largely underwritten this pre-event for some two decades, about 150 business and civic leaders attended.

The evening began with an invocation by Detroit Branch president the Rev. Wendell Anthony just prior to elaborate comfort food stations opening for guests to enjoy along with an open premium bar throughout the evening. There was a short program with speeches from Detroit branch NAACP Executive Director Donnell White, Roostertail owner Tom Schoenith, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan (who officially bought the first ticket to the Freedom Fund Dinner) and GM Foundation President Vivian Pickard, who presented a check from GM to NAACP for $250,000.

“As a nod to GM’s generosity, we created an ice blue winter wonderland theme on our upper level where the party was held, complementing the blue lights of the GM building in the distance,” explained Shawna Peplinsky, Roostertail vice president. “We also had a new Escalade on display as guests arrived.”

William Pickard, CEO of Global Automotive Alliance, who is also general chair of this year’s Freedom Fund Dinner, presented a check for $100,000. Charles Nolen, president of Michigan Black Bar Owners Association, who is Freedom Fund Dinner co-chair, presented a check for $25,000.

Themed, “Celebrating Freedom: Measured by Practice, Treasured by Sacrifice,” the 60th annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner will take place on May 3 at Cobo Conference Center. For tickets, call (313) 871-2087.

Chuck Bennett is the Fox 2 News Style Ambassador and the creator of the Social D, a website that represents the social side of Metro Detroit. See