MILTON — Santa Rosa County’s branch of the NAACP hosted their ninth annual Freedom Fund Banquet, which included a catered meal, a stand-up comedy routine, a keynote speaker and the presentation of a scholarship to a local high school student.

Milton city officials and officers from the Milton Police Department attended the event; among them were City Manager Brian Watkins, Milton Councilwoman Mary Ellen Johnson and Police Chief Tony Tindell.

The banquet was held at the Citizens Moving Forward, Inc. building on Dogwood Drive in Milton. Josephine Hayes Catering catered the meal. Douglas Brooks and Ronnie Ganzy played music for the guests of the ceremony. Frederick Lewis sang the National Anthem. Bryson Brown performed a comedy routine for guests.

Brianna Washington, a 2017 graduate of Milton High School, received a scholarship from the NAACP branch.

“This NAACP scholarship can help enhance my education because education is synonymous to knowledge, and knowledge through education helps us to reach our full potential and gives us the ability to pull ourselves out of oppression and poverty and take control of our own lives,” Washington said. “Education is the tool which has conserved the past and shows the way to the future.”

Washington is to attend Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in the fall and will major in pre-medical biology.

Henry Martin, the master of ceremonies, honored Barbara Rankin by saving her a reserved seat in the corner of the room and lighting a candle in her honor. Rankin was a dedicated member of the Milton community, serving on multiple boards; she was the Veteran Affairs Chairperson for the NAACP branch in Santa Rosa County, as well as a Freedom Fund Banquet Co-Chairperson. Rankin died in early August.