ST. LOUIS - The East Saint Louis NAACP branch celebrates 65 years of service to the community. The venue was packed with people honored to hear from a keynote speaker deeply ingrained in the civil rights movement.
It was a night of pride and appreciation with the theme “When we fight, we win.” It’s a message that resonates with representative John Lewis who’s fight for equality and civil rights continues from decades ago up to this very day.
City leaders, activists, and pillars from both sides of the bridge showed appreciation for the work of the NAACP of East St. Louis.
"We want to raise the bar and we think that the community being here and seeing what we do is their opportunity for them to say that they may want to become an agent of change," said Stanley Franklin, President of the East Saint Louis NAACP branch.
Attendees were highly anticipating hearing the words of prominent U.S. Representative John Lewis, a civil right icon.
"When I was growing up many years ago, I saw the signs that said white man, colored man, white women, colored women, white waiting, and colored waiting," said Rep. John Lewis, of Georgia's 5th Congressional District.
"I asked a lot of questions and my mother and father and grandparents said don’t get in trouble, but I heard a Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, and I was inspired to get in what I call good trouble...necessary trouble," Lewis said.
Representing the metro Atlanta area, Lewis has been vocal on issues concerning poverty, public safety, and civil rights and searching for solutions to solve problems mirrored by the Metro St. Louis Area.
He spoke to the recent loss of yet another fixture in American history.
"As a people, as a nation, we have lost a powerful voice in losing Elijah Cummings. This man was so smart, so gifted, and highly respected on both sides of the aisle," said Lewis.
As a Freedom Rider, risking his life in nonviolent protests in the name of equality and progression, the theme "When we fight, we win," held value for Lewis.
"It means everything to me. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been raising the question about the distance we have to travel," said Lewis.
Fox 2/News 11's Kelley Hoskins served as an emcee at the banquet.
The purpose was to not only honor those making strides in the community but to also raise money for scholarships for students in the area.