Commission Chair Mason to receive
local NAACP’s Lifetime Freedom Award
SARASOTA COUNTY – Commission Chair Carolyn J. Mason has been selected to receive the 2015 Lifetime Freedom Award from the NAACP’s Sarasota County Branch, it was announced this week.
The award is presented annually to “an individual with a verifiable history of community service and civic activism focused on the preservation and protection of civil and human rights,” according to the organization.
Mason is a Sarasota native who grew up in the Rosemary District, historically an African-American community. She said she has seen tremendous progress in racial issues and civil rights in the county in her lifetime, and she has played a large role by serving on both the Sarasota City Commission and Sarasota County Commission.
“I’m happy I’ve been able to play a part, to give back to a community that’s given me a whole lot,” Mason said.
Her first involvement in civic activism came in the 1980s as a columnist for the minority-focused Tempo News, where she tried to introduce Sarasota’s arts and cultural scene to black residents who until then had been largely excluded.
“I like to think I provided a bridge to connect people,” Mason said. “Once you build that bridge, it doesn’t end. We still have some work to do. But we know better how to deal with issues today. Continual dialogue is key.”
“That’s an honor from the community where I’ve grown up and lived most of my life,” Mason said. “I’m just humbled.”
Mason is scheduled to receive the honor at the 30th Annual Freedom Awards Banquet on Oct. 8 in Sarasota.