The Stockton Branch NAACP will be inducting longtime community activist Warren Gaines on Saturday, Nov. 23 into the NAACP Freedom Fund Hall of Fame as well as honoring excellence in serving the community with the Annual Freedom Fighter Awards for Community and Corporate partners.
Local leaders will be honored at 6 p.m. at a reception and dinner in their honor at the Brookside Golf & Country Club, 3603 St Andrews Drive in Stockton. The even will feature a live auction, raffle prizes, and dancing. Community Awards recipients include Stockton City Council and Community Activist Elbert Holman, Geraldine Edwards Hollis, Jose Rodriquez, Constance Smith, and Judge William Murray.
This year’s keynote speaker will be Orage Quarles III, publisher of the North Carolina News and Observer. Quarles was formally publisher of the Stockton Record. The honorary co-chairs of the event are Dr. and Mrs. Moses Elam.
Tickets are $100 per person. This is a Black Tie formal affair.
FREEDOM FIGHTER AWARDEES
A native of Stockton, CA, Elbert Holman, Jr. attended Cal Poly State University and the University of the Pacific. For 20 years he worked for the San Joaquin County Sheriff Department and in 1988 was recognized as one of the “Top Blacks in Law Enforcement” by the National Blacks in Law Enforcement Organization.
In 1991, he transferred to the District Attorney Office Investigations unit, becoming the first African American to work in that division of law enforcement. He worked up the ranks and in 2000 District Attorney John Philips promoted Holman to Chief Investigator of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division. Holman became the first African American to hold the position.
Holman was elected to San Joaquin County’s Board of Supervisor’s in 2010; he currently is serving his third term.
Constance Smith is the Western Area Director of The Links, Incorporated and oversees 2000 members in 56 chapters from ten western states including California, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Smith has been a Stockton resident since 1970. She joined the Stockton Chapter of Links, Inc. in 1973 and has served twice as the chapter president.
Smith holds Master’s Degree in Education from Cal State Sacramento and is a certified mental heath and chemical dependency clinician. She is a retired San Joaquin Delta College educator and an adjunct Professor at Delta College and Cal State University, Stanislaus. She holds life Memberships in Girl Scouts of America and the NAACP.
“I am indeed honored to receive this award but service is something that becomes very natural to me. I give because I truly recognize that I’ve been blessed,” said Smith.
She says she truly believes that, “It’s not what you gather that counts, but how much you scatter.
A graduate of George Washington University Law School in 1982, William J. Murray, Jr. served as a prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York from 1982 – 1986 and the Office of the San Joaquin County District Attorney from 1986 -1995.
In 1995, he was appointed as a judge in San Joaquin County’s Superior Court, where he served for fifteen years. While a judge in San Joaquin County, he co-authored two programs which were recognized by the California Judicial Council and given the with the prestigious Ralph N. Kleps Award for innovative court programming. He was later appointed to serve on the California Judicial Council, the constitutional governing body for California’s courts.
Justice Murray was appointed to the Court of Appeal, 3rd District, in 2010. He currently serves as the chairperson of the 3rd District’s Outreach Committee for the Court of Appeal.
A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, he participated in the fraternity’s Bear Creek Mentoring program. He is also active in the Beyond Incarceration programs, Youth Leadership academy, and does outreach in Stockton and Sacramento schools.
“I’m extremely honored to receive the award. I do the things for which I have been honored, not for the honor but because it’s my perception that’s what I’ve been put on this earth to do,”
Geraldine Hollis has committed her life to advocacy and change. A native of Mississippi, she received her B.S. in Health and Physical Education with minors in Mathematics and Biological Sciences from, Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi.
Hollis was apart of the historical “Tougaloo Nine” – a group of nine students to stage the first public sit-ins of public institutions in Mississippi in 1961. The demonstration helped spark the civil rights movement in Jackson, Mississippi.
She wrote the memoir “Back to Mississippi” and in 2012 Hollis and her book was inducted into the Mississippi State Department of Archives and History
Hollis worked as a teacher, counselor, and consultant in the Oakland Unified School District for 33 years before retiring. She lives in Stockton and is a member of Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church. She is a proud wife, mother, and grandmother.
“…I’m actually elated, to be awarded this prestigious recognition. My civil rights experiences were all about the community and making things better for everyone,” Hollis said.
Jose R. Rodriguez has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council for the Spanish Speaking more commonly known as El Concilio since 1996. Mr. Rodriguez is a graduate of the University of the Pacific and Humphreys School of Law.
Under his direction El Concilio has increased programs and expanded services, increasing the agency budget from $1.2 million dollars to $8 million dollars per year to become the largest Latino community based organization in the Central Valley.
“I am grateful to the San Joaquin County chapter of NAACP the nation oldest civil rights organization for this award,” said Rodriguez. “I have always considered the NAACP as the conscience of this country when it comes to fighting for justice and equality, this award from an organization that I have always held in high esteem is really humbling.”
El Concilio has been recognized by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the top 25 non-profits serving the Latino Community in the United States. Through his leadership El Concilio has won local, state and national recognition for the services the organization provides to the communities of the Central Valley.
A community activist for many years Mr. Rodriguez has served on numerous board and committees such as the Mayor’s Task Force for Racial Harmony and Justice, Stockton Unified School District Measure C Citizen Oversight, and the National Council of La Raza Affiliate Council Member.