Gulfport N.A.A.C.P. to Welcome Incoming President to Coast & Honor Sierra Club

The Gulfport Branch N.A.A.C.P. will host its annual Freedom Fund Banquet on Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 at Hard Rock Live in Biloxi at 6:00 p.m. This year’s program theme is: ‘All in for Justice and Equality’. Guest speaker will be incoming National N.A.A.C.P. President/C.E.O. Cornell William Brooks. Distinguished Justice service awards will be presented to Robert Wiygul and Louie Miller, Mississippi State Director of the Sierra Club, for their outstanding environmental justice advocacy. The N.A.A.C.P. has strategically engaged environmental and climate justice as one of its core civil rights issue.

Cornell William Brooks is a lawyer, civil rights activist, social justice executive and fourth generation ordained minister. He was chosen to be the president of the N.A.A.C.P. in May 2014.

Brooks was born in El Paso, Texas in 1961, the son of three generations of ministers, but grew up in Georgetown, South Carolina. He is a graduate of Head Start. Brooks attended Jackson State University, where he received a BA in political science with honors. He subsequently earned his Master of Divinity, with a concentration in social ethics and systematic theology, at the Boston University School of Theology. He also received a law degree from Yale University, where he was a Senior Editor of the Yale Law Journal and member of the Yale Law and Policy Review.

Before becoming N.A.A.C.P. President/C.E.O., he served as president of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice in Newark, New Jersey.

He previously worked as a Senior Counsel with the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) Prior to his F.C.C. service, as a U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney, Mr. Brooks secured the then largest government settlement for victims of housing discrimination based on testing and filed the government’s first law suit against a nursing home alleging housing discrimination based on race.

His civil rights experience includes serving as Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington and as trial attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Robert Wiygul graduated cum laude from Millsaps College in 1981, and received his law degree cum laude from the University of Mississippi in 1984. While at law school he was the Editor in Chief of the Mississippi Law Journal. After graduation, he clerked for Judge W. Eugene Davis of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and later practiced with the firm of Gordon, Arata, McCollam, and Duplantis in New Orleans, specializing in natural resources and commercial litigation.

In 1990 he was the Burlington Northern Fellow in Natural Resources Law at the University of Colorado School of Law. From 1990 to 2001 he was employed by the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund (formerly the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund), most recently as the managing attorney of its Rocky Mountain office in Denver, Colorado. He is currently the resident partner in the Mississippi office of Waltzer Wiygul & Garside, which specializes in environmental and trial practice, and counts as part of its mission representing the underserved communities of our region. He is a member of the Louisiana, Mississippi and Colorado bars, and a frequent writer and speaker on environmental law. Mr. Wiygul represents individuals and non-profits nationwide, and for decades. He is currently representing fishermen, landowners, and others in the aftermath of the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Louie Miller has served as the Mississippi State Director of the Sierra Club for the past 22 years. His first, major political victory was against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Shoccoe Dam, a proposed flood control project for Jackson. He successfully defeated the local cost share in the 1986 state legislature. He was instrumental in defeating the decades-old Corps’ Big Sunflower River dredging project and the tandem Yazoo Pumps Project, which resulted in a landmark veto by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act.

Louie organized rural white and African-American communities and successfully thwarted the expansion of Swine Confined Animal Feeding Operations across the state. This became a model for Environmental Justice organizing in the rural South, resulting in national recognition by the Sierra Club in 2000. More recently, he developed and executed a campaign that derailed attempts to drill Gulf Islands National Seashore and Congressionally-designated wilderness for oil and gas.

Miller also led the Sierra Club’s response efforts to Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Disaster. For the past 5 years, he has worked hold Mississippi Power accountable to its ratepayers for its so called state-of-the-art ‘clean coal’ the Kemper IGCC Plant. This advocacy culminated in a landmark settlement agreement requiring the ceasing of burning coal at Plant Watson in Gulfport and Plant Greene in Alabama, garnered $15 million to weatherize low income housing and create solar demonstration projects for educational and non-profit buildings. The agreement also provides a quantum leap forward in bringing a clean energy economy to the State of Mississippi, charting a clear path forward for home owners and businesses to invest in rooftop solar.

He holds a B.S. degree from Mississippi State University in Horticulture. He previously owned and operated a family farm known as Flicks Berry Farm for 20 years.

Tickets are $40 and on sale at Taylor Harris Drugs, 1908 30th Avenue in Gulfport. For more information, call 228-617-0891.

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