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NAACP holding empowerment dinner

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The Clayton County NAACP is holding an "empowerment dinner," on Friday, with special guests speakers on education, the economy, current legislation and public safety.

"There are a lot of people suffering in the county right now," said Dexter Matthews, president of the local branch of the NAACP. "We want to do what we can do to help. We're trying to be a positive influence in the county. There's just so much negative going on, we're trying to do what we can to help."

The dinner will be held at 7 p.m., at Amazing Grace World Outreach Church, 260 Forest Parkway, Forest Park. The dinner will be catered by Rutha Smith, who makes everything from scratch, and will feature six speakers discussing issues around the theme "Bridge Building for Change."

On education, School Superintendent John Thompson and Board of Education Chairwoman Alieka Anderson will speak. On legislation, State Senator-elect Gail Buckner (D-Jonesboro), will talk about the upcoming session. On crime and public safety, Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner will speak. On economics, the NAACP is bringing in John O'Callaghan, president of the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, and Phyllis Washington of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, will talk about foreclosures and unduly high tax assessments.

"We're focusing, right now, on the main areas ... some of the most important areas in the county. This is something we're doing to reach out to the community, and give them some information, and tell them what's going on," Matthews said.

The group has held similar events in the past, focusing on the four areas of concern. The economic focus has shifted a bit, however. At previous empowerment dinners, the NAACP talked about jobs and government contracts for minorities, but on Friday, the attention will be on homeowners and foreclosures.

"This is a critical area," Matthews said. "We have to have people understand what's going on, and how easy it is to lose your house."

The dinner costs $20 for adults and $12 for children. For tickets, call Vivian Baldwin at (770) 991-9881, Linda Granger at (678) 467-6629 or Vernice Scott at (678) 432-8522.

"Hopefully," Matthews said, "people will leave the meeting more empowered to take action."