The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 25, 2013

Limestone NAACP honors late pioneer

Freedom Fund Banquet raises money for local projects, scholarships

By Kim West

— Limestone NAACP organizers honored the woman credited as an advocate for education and the impetus for the local branch during the branch’s annual Freedom Fund Banquet held last month at the Beasley Center in Athens.

The late Margaret Yarbrough, who died May 31 at age 96, received a tribute during the banquet and is listed in her obituary as “being instrumental” in starting the Limestone chapter in 1969.

A recipient of the prestigious NAACP Trailblazer Award, Yarbrough is the namesake for an annual award given by the local chapter to honor a member “who displays community leadership and courage for equity,” according to a resolution adopted by the organization in June.

The semi-formal banquet, which brought in approximately $4,000 after expenses, is a major fundraiser for the Limestone NAACP, according to chapter First Vice President Diane Steele.

Proceeds go toward a community health and nutrition program, Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest, academic initiatives and scholarships, among other local causes.

Gospel recording artist Cynthia Hines was the event’s featured performer, while Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Dorothea Batiste delivered the keynote address.

The chapter also presented five community awards, with Sweetest Things Tea Room recognized as Minority Business of the Year and Saint Luke Missionary Baptist Church as Church of the Year.

This year’s individual honorees are Teacher of the Year Keonna Burgess Steele, who teaches special education at Piney Chapel Elementary School and for the county school system, and Pastor of the Year Charles N. Simmons Sr., who has served Little Ezekiel Missionary Baptist Church since 1999.

Tanner High School graduate and former major league baseball player Gary Redus received the Community Service Award. Chapter leaders described Redus as “a true community server” and a key supporter of the annual Limestone NAACP Golf Classic tournament.

To view the obituary for Margaret Yarbrough, visit