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NAACP honors editor at Jubilee Day

News & Record Editor Sylvia O. McLaughlin on Wednesday became the 15th recipient of the Cora Tucker Award given annually by the local chapter of the NAACP.

The presentation took place before a large crowd gathered for the annual Jubilee Day Service held at the Banister Hill Baptist Church in Halifax.

The first Caucasian person ever to receive the award, a humble McLaughlin accepted the award for her 40 plus years of community service.

She told of her admiration and friendship with the late Cora Tucker who fought for justice for all and to bring about societal changes.

The Rev. Frank E. Coleman Jr., president of the local NAACP chapter, and the Rev. Kevin Chandler, first vice president of the local NAACP and NAACP state vice president, each gave a conclusive history of why Jubilee Day is celebrated each year on Jan. 1.

The day is a commemoration of events leading to President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation.

On Dec. 31, 1863, many enslaved African men and women and their families gathered to hear “the word.” Then, at midnight, in many African-American churches, “the word” came that President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation. 

After midnight, African men and women, who along with their ancestors had experienced over 244 years of slavery in America, began thanking God for the dawn of freedom.

The next day, Jan. 1, 1863, became known as “Jubilee Day” to the newly freed African-Americans. They enjoyed a freedom feast of collard greens, yams, black-eyed peas, roasted meats, pies and cakes. They sang songs and played games of all kind as they reminisced on slavery’s past and mused on freedom’s future.

“In today’s Jubilee Service, thanks are still given for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon all of us as we strive to reach new heights in the political, social and judicial realms of our society,” said Coleman.  

 “We still celebrate with the preached word,” he said. “We also incorporate words of encouragement from our leaders at the local and state levels of government,” he added.

The Rev. Coleman, pastor of First Baptist Church of South Boston on Ferry Street, preached a sermon based on a biblical passage in the Book of Acts that delves into the meaning of fellowship.

His subject, “The Essence of Fellowship,” was taken from scripture found in Acts 2:41-47. 

In addition to the Cora Tucker Award, the NAACP leaders presented donations to Dr. William Carr, representing Banister Hill Baptist Church, where the NAACP holds its monthly meetings. 

Coleman and Chandler also presented a donation to the Banister Residential Care Facility, represented by Roberta Allen and Janice Tally, to support its care for elderly residents. 

Allen, president of the Banister Convention, the church group that operates the home, expressed appreciation to the NAACP for its support. 

With Tally as its administrator, the Banister Residential Care Facility currently has 13 residents.