Gallery: Long Beach NAACP "Shoulders We Stand On" Awards
LONG BEACH — Evelyn Knight says she has been an activist fighting for civil rights throughout her life.
"There is always a need for people to stand up and be counted," the longtime Long Beach resident told members of the NAACP on Sunday. "So get on board."
The NAACP Long Beach Branch recognized Knight's activism Sunday during the chapter's 2013 Black History Month program held at Ernest McBride Sr. Park.
Knight was one of 21 people honored at the Shoulders We Stand On event, spotlighting the contributions African-Americans have made in Long Beach.
Knight, an Alabama native who moved to Long Beach in 1962, was commended for, among other things, her role as chairwoman of a 2002 NAACP Long Beach Branch task force that investigated the death of Marcella Byrd. A schizophrenic black woman, Byrd was fatally shot by police while wielding an 8-inch kitchen knife.
The Long Beach Police Department was harshly criticized for the controversial shooting by various groups, including the NAACP Long Beach.
The task force concluded that department needed better training in the use of force for police officers and more resources for officers to use when they deal with mentally ill people.
Naomi Rainey, president of the NAACP Long Beach Branch, praised Knight's involvement with the task force.
"People were afraid to chair the task force. They thought they might have trouble in dealing with the police if they were on the task force," Rainey said. "But the good of the community rose above other concerns, and Evelyn stood up.
"She said, 'I'll be damned if this woman's death goes unnoticed.' We have to step out beyond ourselves if we want this community to be the best it can be."
Other citizens honored at the event were:
- William Barnes, an educator at Long Beach Community College;
Doris Topsy-Elvord, a former Long Beach Harbor commissioner and former City Council member;
Vera Mulkey, a community activist;
Lauretta Sampson, a community activist;
Marie Treadwell, a former president with the National Council for Negro Women;
Dale Clinton, a former Long Beach Civil Service commissioner;
Marcus Tucker, a retired juvenile court judge;
Alta Cooke, the first African-American music teacher in the Long Beach Unified School District;
Minnie Douglas, an educator and community activist;
Bobbie Smith, the first African-American to serve on the Long Beach Unified school board;
Frank Cummings, an art professor at Cal State Long Beach;
Aaron Day, an author and genealogist;
Charlotte Berry, a community activist;
Clarence Smith, the second African-American Long Beach City Council member;
Millie Whisenton, a businesswoman;
Charles Ussery, the city's first African-American police chief;
Ernest McBride, Jr., community activist;
Patricia Lofland, first African-American on the Long Beach City College Board of Trustees;
Herb Levi, first African-American deputy city manager; and
Margaret Brown, an educator with Long Beach Unified.
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