Meridian Star

Local News

April 28, 2010

NAACP names man and woman of the year

MERIDIAN —     The local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has honored several outstanding citizens of Meridian, including two former mayoral candidates, with its annual awards.

    The top awards were man and woman of the year, which were given to Percy Bland and Casandra Sloan. Other honors include those for Entrepreneurial Spirit, award to Terrence Roberts, Long Distance Runners for Civil Rights, awarded to Rev. Charles Johnson, and Mother of the Year, awarded to Mae C. Bridges.

    NAACP member Melba Clark said Bland was awarded Man of the Year based largely his contributions to community youth and politics.

    Bland, who was the Democratic nominee for mayor of Meridian in last year's election and who lost by only a few hundred votes, runs a youth basketball camp and mentoring program with his brother, Michael Bland. The NAACP also noted Bland's work with the local school system and his success in business.

    "He's an excellent entrepreneur," said Clark. "He provides jobs for himself and others, and he works with the youth."

    Sloan was named woman of the year because of her former leadership role as a manager of Manpower and her contributions to the community when it comes to public schools, organizing the efforts of several local public school related advocacy groups.

    "We looked at her efforts to get the groups to work together on this school issue," said Clark. "That was the thing that really put her over was that she was able to get them to work together to work on those problems in the school system."

    The Rev. Johnson was honored as Long Distance Runner for Civil Rights because of his activism in the civil rights movement from the 1960s to the present.

    "He's the only one of the civil rights workers (in this area) who was active in the '60s that's still living, and he continues to work," said Clark. "So it's because of his perseverance and continued work with civil rights that we gave him the award."

    Terrence Roberts, proprietor of the Gathering Place and Pastor of New Wine Ministries, was named entrepreneur of the year because he has not only provided himself and others with employment, but has provided other entrepreneurs with a place to conduct their business.    

    "Terrence took the Gathering Place as a ministry," said Clark, "but in that ministry he provides...incubator space for three businesses... He took an empty building and made it into a viable and important part of Meridian's framework."

    Bridges was chosen as Mother of Year in part by her church. Clark said the award is a fundraiser. Several local churches chose their mother's of year, and the mother who raised the most money for NAACP was named local NAACP Mother of Year, and has a chance to become state NAACP Mother of the Year.

    The awards were presented to their recipients, excepting Bland, who was accepting another award out of state at the time, at a ceremony during the Obie Clark Freedom Fund Banquet, which was held Saturday at the Council of Organizations building on 45th Avenue.

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