Boris Kodjoe gets personal at historic La. NAACP banquet

Parish president names first Black police chief during event

HOUMA—Actor Boris Kodjoe was the keynote speaker at the Terrebonne Parish NAACP’s 33rd Annual Freedom Fund Banquet on June 20, where he addressed a crowd of more than 1,000 people about topics such as racism, success and life lessons.

Kodjoe opened his speech by touching on the recent events in Charleston, South Carolina, in which a White suspected terrorist shot and killed nine Black people in a historic church after participating in their Bible study. Law enforcement called the shooting, which took place on June 17, a hate crime. The massacre has renewed the national debates about race in America and the Confederate flag.
Kodjoe, a member of the NAACP, said that people are not living in a post-racial society, and “we must arm ourselves, not with guns, but with knowledge and faith.” He referred to racism as a “cancer” and reflected on growing up as a biracial child–German and African- and having rocks thrown at him due to the color of his skin.
He asked the students in attendance to define success and allowed one of them to assist him by answering questions about the subject. He shared with students not only the importance of appearance and personal hygiene but also first impressions and how social media can be effective and detrimental.

“Whenever you post something, it will be there forever and ever,” he said.
He also talked about how his mentor always told him to keep his sneakers tied. He said that meant to always be prepared.
“You have to leave your house every single day knowing that you can meet the person who can change your life,” Kodjoe said.
Kodjoe talked about his daughter’s spina bifida diagnosis and the toll it took on his family. He said after climbing out of a “deep, dark hole of despair,” he and his wife eventually created Sophie’s Voice Foundation, which, according to the foundation’s website, aims to prevent spina bifida by supporting global health and wellness initiatives in multicultural communities.

He said life has taught him that love, children and family are the most important things.
The Terrebone Parish NAACP awarded 30 recent high school graduates $1,000 scholarships for college and gave book scholarships to an additional 16 college students.

Event goers also experienced a historic announcement when Terrebone Parish President Michel Claudet named Lt. Dana Coleman as Houma’s first Black police chief. The announcement, a surprise to Coleman and all who attended, drew cheers and a standing ovation from many.

The Terrbonne Parish Freedom Fund Banquet draws the largest attendance than any other NAACP banquet in the state. Kodjoe said he accepted the invitation to speak at the banquet not only to support the chapter but more importantly to also support the journey of the students recognized.
“Any time I can support children, it’s a priority for me, because children are absolutely our most important asset, especially minority children,” he said.

Kodjoe is best known for acting in major films such as “Love & Basketball,” “Brown Sugar” and “Madea’s Family Reunion.” He also played a major role in TV show “Soul Food” and stars alongside comedian Kevin Hart in “Real Husbands of Hollywood.”
He is married to actress Nicole Ari Parker and they have two children, Sophie and Nicolas. The couple has a new show, “The Boris and Nicole Show,” that will debut on FOX on July 6.
By Anastasia L. Semien

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