Home Local News “Democracy is not a spectator sport.” 2023 NAACP Dane County Freedom Fund...

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” 2023 NAACP Dane County Freedom Fund Dinner set for Oct. 28

Young people from the Simpson Street Free Press with John Nichols, the national affairs correspondent for The Nation and associate editor of The Capital Times, at last year's Freedom Fest. (Photo: NAACP Dane County)

The NAACP Dane County Branch will hold its annual Freedom Fund Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Madison Concourse Hotel & Governor’s Club featuring keynote speaker Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul.

“We’re very excited to be back at the Concourse. We have a fabulous speaker because we have the attorney general of the State of Wisconsin as our keynote,” Gwen Jones, chair of the NAACP Dane County Freedom Fund Committee, tells Madison365. “And with the mission and the vision of the NAACP, along with the state of our nation at this point in time, we felt that he could bring a message that really aligned with what we feel the fight is about because we have been there [at the state Capitol building] to testify on issues like having fair maps, the appeal of Roe [v. Wade] and them bringing forth Dobbs [v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization]. It just seems like at this point that we needed not only a motivational speaker but a legal speaker. There are issues that we have to fight and we realize that some of those will be in court.”

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul
(Photo supplied.
Gwen Jones, chair of the NAACP Dane County Freedom Fund Committee
(Photo by David Dahmer)

The theme for the Freedom Fund Banquet this year is “Thrive in the Movement, in the Culture, in our Community.” 

“If we are truly going to make this theme a reality in all of our lives, we really have to focus. It has to be a laser focus,” Jones says.

This will be the Freedom Fund’s second year back for the NAACP Dane County Branch after the COVID pandemic canceled two of the annual events.

“We had to take two years off because of COVID which really was problematic and really hurt our continuity. We were very excited when we came back last year because we didn’t know if the community was going to be there,” Jones remembers. “But we just had a really wonderful response to the event, which gave us a whole lot of motivation for this year’s event.”

The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. The Dane County chapter was founded back in 2014.

“We are all about equity and equality. And there are so many forces coming at us and opposing that,” Jones says. “That cannot stand and the NAACP has been fighting those forces since 1909. One would think that in 2023, we’d be able to call it done. But it isn’t done. The fight continues.

“Silence on these issues is complicity,” she adds, “and we will not be complicit.”

The Freedom Fund Dinner is the primary fundraiser for the NAACP Dane County Branch.

“Money raised at our Freedom Fund goes directly towards our operational budget. We are an all-volunteer organization,” Jones says. “Our NAACP membership is $30 … that’s not gonna take you very far. But we do know that there are things we have to do right now and so many issues we are tackling like housing, voting rights, police brutality, health care, labor rights, etc.

“At the NAACP, we have a lot of fights going on. You’d think that we’re disagreeable, but we’re really not,” Jones smiles. “But you cannot just sit back and watch – democracy is not a spectator sport. If you want to make real change, get engaged.”

For tickets to the 2023 Freedom Fund Dinner, click here. Each ticket will include a one-year membership to the NAACP Dane County for new members (adult or youth) or a one-year membership extension for current members. The reception for the Freedom Fund Banquets on Oct. 28 starts at 6:30 p.m.; the dinner is at 7 p.m.

“This is a very important fundraiser for us. This is the only fundraiser that this branch does. This is what we do,” Jones says. “We do this once a year. It’s a tradition within the NAACP and it’s become a tradition within the NAACP Dane County.

“It’s such a wonderful evening … it really is. It’s something that I really look forward to. And it’s so worth it. A voice like the voice of the NAACP is so necessary these days, and this activity will help keep that voice strong because somebody has to speak for those who feel like they have no voice. Who better than the NAACP?”