JOPLIN, Mo. — Dozens gather in Joplin this evening (Saturday) – for dinner and a very important discussion.

The NAACP Joplin Branch 4065 held the 2023 Annual Freedom Fund Banquet, focusing on Black health matters.

Many local organizations were also in attendance, hoping to find out how they could make a difference in their roles in the community.

Following dinner, different speakers spoke about Black health locally and in the state of Missouri, with many focusing on how policies can continue to be worked on to bring forth positive change.

“Black women in Missouri are three times more likely to die in the year following birth than white women. And that’s been true over the past decade. And that is not an inescapable fate. That’s something that can be affected through policy,” said Cassie Brown, National Association of Social Workers Missouri Chapter Executive Director.

“I hope the community members see the importance of why it’s so important to gather together and have these tough conversations of injustices and inequities,” said McKinzie Peterson, NAACP Joplin Branch Assistant Secretary.

Also, this evening, the NAACP Joplin Branch is celebrating its 80th anniversary.

Members of the group tell us they dedicated time this evening to look at the success over the years while focusing on what’s next.