As a young woman committed to social justice and equality, Rita Rogers took part in the “freedom rides” to register African-Americans to vote in the segregated South.
She was on the National Mall the day in 1963 when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, calling the country to remember its founding and ensure equality for all Americans.
As a longtime Perris City Councilmember, Rogers has worked to forge bonds between elected representatives, law enforcement, clergy and residents to bring about greater understanding and harmony to the community.
Rogers will be among the honorees Wednesday, May 13, by the Riverside Chapter of the NAACP during its 64th annual “Freedom Fund Celebration” at the Riverside Convention Center.
Rogers will receive the organization’s Government/Political award, one of 12 that will be handed out.
“I am very proud to receive this honor,” Rogers said. “The NAACP has served as the voice of the people for many years and it is a privilege to accept this award.”
The theme of this year’s Freedom Fund gala is “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants/One Nation, One Dream United.” Several City of Perris elected officials and administrators will join her at the upcoming ceremony.
Rogers said one mission of the NAACP is to educate young people about the need of every generation to continue fighting for civil rights and freedoms. It’s a major reason the upcoming honor means so much to her. Rogers met sports legends Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and Jackie Robinson as a child thanks in part to her mother’s work on behalf of the NAACP in New York City.
“The NAACP has for generations taken the lead in fighting for civil rights and integration,” she said. “It’s very important today to see that tradition continue.”