Niagara Gazette

October 16, 2012

Falls event to feature civil rights activist

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will visit Niagara Falls this weekend.

Leroy Gadsden, chairman of the Legal Redress Committee of the NAACP's New York State Conference and president of the Jamaica, Queens New York branch of the NAACP, will serve as the keynote speaker during an event scheduled for Sunday.

Gadsden's visit coincides with the annual membership drive of the Niagara Falls branch of the NAACP. This year's membership drive is themed "Where Do We Go From Here?" Gadsden will speak at the event which starts at 4 p.m. Sunday and will be held at the New Hope Baptist Church, 1122 Buffalo Ave., Niagara Falls. 

Gadsden is a native of Bishopville, S.C. and a graduate of the University of South Carolina where he earned a bachelor's degree in science and a master's degree in criminology. He also holds a Juris Doctorate of law degree from the CUNY law school at Queens College. Currently, he is an adjunct criminal justice professor at City University of New York and is the regional director of the equal employment opportunity commission in New York state. 

The civil rights activist has testified before the U.S. Justice Department, Civil Rights Division on the status of brutality in New York City and was the NAACP legal monitor and organizer of the Sean Bell protest and trial activities. 

Bell was shot on Nov. 25, 2006 in Jamaica, Queens on the morning before his wedding. Bell and two other men were shot a total of 50 times by a team of both plain clothes and undercover NYPD officers. Bell's death sparked a national outcry which caused thousands of protesters to march in opposition to the amount of excessive police force used. 

Honorees for Sunday's event will include: Councilman Robert Anderson Jr., Steve Huston, chairman of the education committee of the Niagara Falls NAACP branch, St. John AME Church. Youth recipients will include Mercy Cox-Hicks, Kyri Jackson, Davida Payne and Kyle Woods. 

Special guest wil be Brittni Smallwood, reporter from WIVB Channel 4 news, who will serve as mistress of ceremony for the program. 

The event is being hosted by Shirley Hamilton, president of the Niagara Falls NAACP chapter, Lexie Sanders, chairperson of the NAACP membership committee, and the Rev. Harvey L. Kelley, host pastor from New Hope Baptist Church. 

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Hamilton at 282-7044 or Sanders at 285-2965.