The Jacksonville Branch of the National Association for the Advancement Colored People (NAACP) recently hosted its 58th Annual Freedom Fund Luncheon and Awards Ceremony, celebrating its first in-person gathering since the pandemic. “Thriving Together In Culture & Community,” was the widely embraced theme of unity, diversity, and resilience. The luncheon featured keynote speakers Jacksonville natives, Danyel Surrency Jones, leader of Amazon Black Business Accelerator Program and Terrence Hayes, Press Secretary for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The speaker’s words embraced supporting black entrepreneurship and honoring veterans, for their sacrifices and contributions. The event also paid tribute to local individuals who have made significant contributions to the Duval community via civil rights, equality, activism, positive change and community betterment. “The Jacksonville Branch NAACP remains committed to fostering an inclusive and thriving community, inspiring a brighter and more equitable future,” said President Isaiah Rumlin, as he expressed gratitude and called for ongoing action to ensure equality for all. During the ceremony, several well-deserving life members and supporters received awards for their exceptional contributions: Isaiah Rumlin, President of the Jacksonville Branch NAACP, was honored with the Rutledge H. Pearson Civil Rights Award; Haraka “Nikki” Carswell received the Sallye B. Mathis Community Service Award; Reverence Christopher McKee, Jr., Pastor, First Baptist Church of Oakland, presented with the Willye F. Dennis Civic Engagement Award; Dr. Dana Kriznar, Superintendent of DCPS, received the Olivia Gay-Davis Education Award; Dr. Selena Webster-Bass, DMin., MPH, was honored with the Elizabeth Means Health Award and Cadet Adrianne McIntosh received recognition with the Major Allen Rogers ROTC Award. The awards shone a spotlight on the outstanding contributions and achievements of these individuals in their respective fields, further inspiring residents to become NAACP members and community activist for Black excellence and positive change.