NAACP honors local SHEROES on the front lines of progress

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, October 28, 2020

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LAPLACE – The Louisiana NAACP State Conference Awards Ceremony recognizes nationally acclaimed excellence in athletics, public policy, social activism, entertainment, entrepreneurship, philanthropy and leadership.

The event was set to be held in April, however the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to the celebration. Organizers were ecstatic about being able to relaunch and recognize this year’s most deserving and dedicated honorees. As an added bonus, three local community powerhouses were honored by the Louisiana NAACP Chapter.

Community activist Eliza Eugene was recognized for her continued contributions to the local community and beyond. Her organization, Blessed to be a Blessing, supports students annually with backpacks and supplies and continues to catalyze social responsibility. Eliza is a minister, a philanthropist, a published author (God Exposed Me to Me: Healing the Little Girl Inside of Me, 2020) and one of St. John’s shining examples of servant leadership.

Attorney, educator and candidate for Division B Judge, Nghana Lewis was recognized for her commitment to education and fair representation. She is a professor of English & Africana Studies at Tulane University and uses this platform to promote students’ agency and scaled influence. Nghana has published and lectured widely on her research, which cross-sectionally studies HIV/AIDS, hip hop culture and black women’s health. Her authority can be read through her publications and seen in her many awards (Roddy Richard Lifetime Achievement Award, Suzanne & Stephen Weiss Presidential Fellowship and Top Female Achiever by New Orleans Magazine, etc.). However, her voice is most intimately and poignantly felt in her advocacy surrounding the power of allowing local resources, shared experience and equitable access to guide the way we educate students.

There are nearly 2,400 elected prosecutors in the United States and less than 2 percent are women of color. The 40th Judicial District’s elected District Attorney, Bridget Dinvaut, reigns in this elite group of 45 women as the very first black woman to be elected to her position in the state of Louisiana. Nonviolent felony offenders are getting second chances at productive citizenship through her intensive life-skills and work readiness program, Opportunity Now. Dinvaut’s belief in education as a crime deterrent also led her to create “Education Matters,” a youth initiative designed to impart wisdom through formative mentorship. She is a knowledgeable scholar, a respected professional and a gracious public servant. Through her position as well as countless acts of community service, District Attorney Dinvaut continues to promote education and equity in the pursuit of social justice.

The NAACP also honored: Evander Holyfield, Richard “Rico Love” Butler Jr., Tyrone Hughes, Carl Thomas, Dee – 1, Rev. Derek King, Porsha Williams, Yandy Smith and Issac Farris.

The NAACP was founded on the precipice of a national paradigm shift through the power of collective voices for educational, social, political and economical equity across the nation. Eliza Eugene, Nghana Lewis and Bridget Dinvaut continue to carry this same torch. Grace, power and tenacity threaded into the NAACP’s founding legacy are embodied in their continued efforts to eliminate discrimination and promote justice and equality for all.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that honoree Nghana Lewis is running for Division B in the 40th Judicial District Court. L’OBSERVATEUR regrets the error.