Richmond Defenders Fighting Fund and Community Awards Dinner coming to Asbury

04/19/2010 10:15 AM by

The Richmond Defenders Fighting Fund & Community Awards Dinner will be held on Saturday, April 24, 2010, at 7PM at the Asbury United Methodist Church on North 29th Street. Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Detroit-based Pan-African News Wire, will be the featured speaker.

From the Facebook page for the event:

This is the Defenders’ one big annual fund-raising event, at which we also honor members of the community who have stood up for the principles of Freedom, Justice and Equality.

Our featured speaker this year will be ABAYOMI AZIKIWE, editor of the Detroit-based Pan-African News Wire, who will address “The Expanding U.S. Economic and Military Role in Africa.”

The event will be held from 7-9:30 p.m. at Asbury United Methodist Church, 324 N. 29th St. in Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood. Tickets are $15 general, $7.50 low-income (and $25 Sponsor, listed in the evening’s program) and must be purchased in advance.

The Pan African News Wire is an electronic press agency founded in 1998. (See As an editor, reporter and activist, Azikiwe has worked for decades in solidarity with liberation movements and progressive governments in Africa and the Caribbean. In the 1990s he conducted field research in the Southern African nations of South Africa, Namibia and Lesotho. Azikiwe has lectured throughout the United States and Canada. His writings have appeared in such publications as the Zimbabwe Herald, Africa Insight (South Africa), The New Worker (UK), The Michigan Citizen, the Center for Research on Globalization (Toronto) and the national newsweekly Workers World, where he serves as a contributing editor.


The program will include presentations of the annual awards given to members of the community who have distinguished themselves by their work in advancing the ideals of Freedom, Justice and Equality.

The recipients of the 2010 “Community Defenders of the Year” awards are:

For their work in the ongoing struggle to reclaim Richmond’s African Burial Ground:

Dr. Michael Blakey – Director, Institute for Historical Biology, College of William & Mary

Sa’ad El-Amin – former Richmond City Council member and former chair of the city’s Slave Trail Commission

Sister Maat Free – Spiritual Advocate for the Burial Ground

King Salim Khalfani – Executive Director, Virginia State Conference NAACP

Shanna Merola & Kenneth Yates – Richmond activists who exposed the plans by Virginia Commonwealth University to repave the Burial Ground

Dr. Shawn Utsey – Director of the documentary film “Meet Me in the Bottom: The struggle to reclaim Richmond’s African Burial Ground”

For her outstanding work on behalf of poor and working people in Virginia:

Breanne Armbrust – Chair, Richmond Jobs with Justice; Continuations Committee, Virginia People’s Assembly

For his longtime devotion to the cause of civil rights and community empowerment:

Roy Bryant – Former 1st Vice President, Richmond Branch NAACP

And for their efforts in the hard-fought struggle to oppose construction of a regional immigrant detention center in Farmville:

The People United


April 24 will be the 56th birthday of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther and political prisoner who in 1982 was falsely convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of a white Philadelphia police officer. Sentenced to death but saved by a worldwide campaign to win his freedom or a new trial, Mumia is now facing the most difficult challenge in his long fight for justice. We will be giving a special report on his case at the dinner.

For tickets or more information, call (804) 644-5834 or e-mail

Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality
PO Box 23202, Richmond, VA 23223
Ph: 804.644.5834 – Fax: 804.332.5225

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