By Christine Keeling
The rich history of the NAACP and reconnecting with family were key topics for Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown, keynote speaker at the 92nd Freedom Fund Banquet.
The Youngstown unit of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People gathered Friday at the Mahoning Country Club. The theme for the event was “We Are One.”
More than 300 people attended the dinner, one of the largest annual fundraisers for the Youngstown group.
“I want to urge the audience to get back to basics,” said Justice McGee Brown.
She said people need to care for their neighbors — take them a meal if they’re unemployed or offer to watch a child.
“Reach out,” she said.
Justice McGee Brown said she was raised by a single mother who worked two jobs to support her and her siblings. Her mother stressed the importance of education.
After running as lieutenant governor in 2010, Justice McGee Brown was appointed to the Ohio Supreme Court in January 2011 by former Gov. Ted Strickland. She is the first black woman to sit on the high court.
She also is the first black elected to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Domestic Relations and Juvenile division.
Justice McGee Brown is the founding president of Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The center focuses on prevention, assessment, treatment, research and advocacy for families and children dealing with abuse.
“We need to focus on where our children are,” said Justice McGee Brown. “And reconnect with family.”
She said the NAACP has a rich history, and she wanted to highlight the organization’s accomplishments. She said she wants the audience to remember the group’s legacy and spend some time thinking of the legacy they are going to leave.
Steven Mickel, president of Youngstown’s NAACP, said he wanted Justice McGee Brown to speak at the group’s event because he believed she was grounded and very easy to talk to.
“We figured she would be a gift to the community,” he said.
Mickel said “We Are One” represents the group’s stand for human rights, civil rights and equality for all people.
”This group is not just African-American,” he said. “This is an all-person organization.”
He said the group looks to maintain the basic civil rights for which many have fought hard.