Leroy Gadsden, president of the Jamaica Branch of the NAACP, was honored by the organization’s national leadership last month at its 105th annual convention in Las Vegas.
Gadsden received the Benjamin Lawson Hooks Keeper of the Flame Award for leadership and service. Hooks was a lawyer, minister, businessman and civil rights advocate who served as executive director the NAACP from 1977 to 1992.
Gadsden was chosen for the award from among more than 1 million members nationwide. He has served the NAACP for nearly 30 years, starting as a youth in his native South Carolina before rising through the ranks to leadership positions.
“He was executive director when I joined,” Gadsden said Wednesday “I thought he was a very effective leader. To receive an honor named for his makes it extra special.”
Aside from heading the Jamaica Branch, Gadsden serves as the Legal Redress and Criminal Justice chairman for all NAACP branches throughout New York State.
Hooks, a native of Tennessee, died in 2010 at age 85. His obituary in the New York Times said he was the first African American on the Federal Communications Commission when he was appointed by President Richard Nixon in 1972.
He was elected to head the NAACP in 1977, and while he had clashes with some board members, he strengthened its enrollment and finances while continuing its social and legal missions.