ORANGE, NJ — The Oranges-Maplewood NAACP has a full slate of events scheduled for this month, starting with a screening of the movie “Without a Net: The Digital Divide in America” on Thursday, April 19, at 7 p.m. at Messiah Baptist Church in East Orange and ending with the annual Freedom Fund Banquet on on Sunday, April 29, at Wilshire Caterers in West Orange.
Oranges-Maplewood NAACP President Tom Puryear lives in the Presidential Heights section of East Orange; however, the local branch of the national civil rights organization he leads serves his other municipalities across Essex County as well. He is also an avid education advocate and stakeholder who serves on the New Jersey State NAACP Chapter’s Education Committee.
“On April 19 at 7 p.m., our organization will host the digital film, ‘Without a Net: The Digital Divide in America,’” said Puryear on Tuesday, April 10. “Messiah Baptist Church, located at 13 Oak St., East Orange, has graciously agreed to host the film. The film provides insight to the difficulties students without access to Internet encounter as they attempt to pursue their dreams. After the film presentation, there will be a discussion on the film. The event is free.”
Tickets are available for those who wish to attend the annual Freedom Fund Banquet. Puryear said it’s definitely worthwhile, since the cost also includes a one-year NAACP membership. This year, the Oranges-Maplewood NAACP will be honoring the Committee for an Elected Orange School Board with the Educational Leadership Award, in recognition for the group’s dedication to empowering voters and advocating for education stakeholders in Orange. The group was a leader in effecting the change in the Orange School District from a Type 1 district, in which the mayor appoints board of education members, to a Type 2 district, in which the board is elected.
“Our unit is always looking for individuals and organizations who are involved in activities that strive to improve our catchment communities,” said Puryear on Tuesday, March 6. “We have flexible categories and education is usually a category where we seek individual or organizations that are making a difference. Our Education Committee felt that the Committee for an Elected Orange School Board was worthy to be recognized. We are also honoring the Rev. Terry Richardson of First Baptist Church of South Orange in the Spiritual category; Star-Ledger reporter Barry Carter in the Community category; East Orange and Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones; and the Rev. Ronald Slaughter of St. James AME Church with our President’s Award. Our keynote speaker for the evening will be Dr. Antoinette Ellis Williams, professor at New Jersey City University.”
“I am pleased that the Committee for an Elected Orange School Board will receive the Educational Leadership Award from the NAACP of Maplewood and the Oranges at its Freedom Fund event on April 29,” said Committee for an Elected Orange School Board member the Rev. Anthony Johnson on Tuesday, March 6. “This award recognizes that the struggle for an elected board is a struggle for education justice.”