The struggle for equality among America’s minorities rages on, a local civil rights leader says.
So Laverne Dacosta, president of the East Valley branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is organizing the Freedom Fund Banquet.
"If we don’t have funds, we don’t operate," Dacosta said. "If we don’t operate, then we can’t address discriminatory acts still rampant within our community."
The fund-raiser, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Chaparral Suites Hotel, 5001 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, also will celebrate the 40th year the NAACP’s East Valley branch has been fighting for minorities’ civil rights, she said.
Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross, the event’s honorary chairwoman, said it is important that Scottsdale residents remember that struggle blacks and other minorities have faced and still face today.
"It’s easy to lose focus and forget about the things that are important," Manross said. "We are becoming more and more heterogenous every year demographically. . . . We must be an inclusive community, and we should be trying to work together as brothers and sisters."
In 1990, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Scottsdale’s black population was 0.8 percent. By 2000, it was 1 percent. The entire minority population doubled within the same 10-year period and grew to 8 percent.
Hannibal Kemerer, assistant general counsel for the NAACP’s national office, will be the keynote speaker.
Kemerer, who graduated from Arizona State University with degrees in political science and philosophy before moving on to George Washington University’s law program, said he is constantly reminded that there is never a short supply of discrimination cases.
"Nearly 40 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, people are still discriminated against, and it’s not always subtly. It’s overtly," Kemerer said. "As a lawyer, I have to think of creative ways to address that because the courts have become very narrow in their view of the law."
Banquet tickets are $75 and can be reserved by calling (480) 464-1808.