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Detroit — New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker will be this year’s keynote speaker at the 63rd annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner, the Detroit branch of the NAACP announced Wednesday.

The event, to be held on May 6 at Cobo Center, is the largest fundraiser for the Detroit branch. The theme for this year’s dinner is “We can’t rest now, the stakes are too high.” NAACP President Rev. Wendell Anthony said Booker exemplifies the theme.

Booker “is an example of one who does not rest, who has lived the life of those whom he represents,” Anthony said. “He has been a champion for workers’ rights and income equality, an advocate for fair and significant immigration policies.

“He is a unique voice in the call for justice in special hearings regarding presidential nominees to the executive branch of government, a stalwart for fair and equitable treatment in the criminal justice system and a voice in the area of marriage equality.”

Booker, 48, has served as a senator from New Jersey since 2013. Prior to that he was the 36th mayor of Newark, New Jersey, from 2006 to 2013 and a member of the Newark City Council from 1998 to 2002.

Anthony added Booker has been an “uncompromising voice” in making the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets and speaking truth to power to the National Rifle Association.

“Some have suggested he represents the new and most progressive part of political leadership regarding our nation’s future,” Anthony said. “This individual has stood firmly for the principles within his own party and has been unafraid to reach across the aisle to build bridges as opposed to erecting walls with those who differ.”

Booker was a wise choice for the keynote speaker, said attorney Melvin Butch Hollowell, general chairman of the dinner. He recalled a time when Booker arrived at the scene of a house fire before the fire department and rescued — along with security members — a woman from the house.

He also noted Booker’s role as a singular voice in the Senate particularly on matters of equality.

Hollowell said some companies have already purchased tables for the event, with some providing seats for students.

“Let’s give them to other people who may not ever have the opportunity to attend the dinner,” he said. “The spirit this year is just unbelievable.”

Past speakers have included Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, former President Bill Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN

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