NAACP banquet honors community service

Trace Harris/The ItemScholarship recipients from the Jones/ Baker Memorial Scholarship banquet pose for a picture. The event is held annually by the NAACP of Walker and Trinity county. 

The Walker/ Trinity county branch of the NAACP celebrated members of the community and its future leaders. 

Herbert Gilbert was the featured speaker for the Baker/Jones Scholarship and Recognition Banquet on Saturday evening at Huntsville High School. Gilbert, the current Madisonville Police Chief, came out of retirement after 25 years with the South Houston Police Department.

“I advised the scholarship recipients to act professional and do their job right,” Gilbert said. “No one can take away your education and experience.”

The event was highlighted by the awarding of 20 scholarships to graduating seniors, funded through contributions from the community.

“We had some outstanding scholarships this year,”said Richard Watkins, the spokesperson for the local NAACP chapter. “Former recipients have made great contributions, with some becoming doctors, lawyers and educators.”

A former recipient, Joshua McGinty served as the youth speaker for the evening, after graduating from Huntsville High School in 2014 and from Sam Houston State University in 2018. He is currently finishing his first year at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he is pursuing a master’s degree in marketing research.

“I wanted to give the scholarship recipients four important choices to make in college,” McGinty said. “Choose a great place to work, know what you want to study, get involved and continue your education.”

Mac Woodward, the director of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum and his wife Leanne were awarded as the Citizens of the Year for their support of youth education. Lockie Archie, a teacher at Estella Stewart Elementary School, was presented as the Educator of the Year, while Rev. Krejchi Hester received the award for religious service.

“The Woodwards were chosen because of the community impact they have made in education and public service,” Watkins added. “Archie has a great record of connecting with students on a personal level, and was recommended by the education committee. Hester has enlisted support from other pastors to benefit youth education.”

This year’s recipient of the Business of the Year award went to Heartfield Florist owned by Danny and Cindy Pierce, who are annual supporters of the scholarship program.

“Danny and Cindy Pierce have contributed to our scholarships since the beginning,” Watkins added. “They are passionate about youth education, funding various scholarships around the city.”

The Walker/ Trinity county chapter of the NAACP is a civil rights advocacy organization with objectives of educating and advocating for students in the area.