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The NAACP should draw strength from the struggles of the past as it faces troubles in the present, the head of a mental health agency said Saturday.

"The power and passion of the NAACP are not confined to the pages of history," Christal Carmichael said. "They live on today."

Carmichael is chief executive officer, founder and acting clinical director of Better Communities, which serves the north-central part of the state. She was the speaker at the Life Membership Banquet for the Fayetteville branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

At the banquet, the chapter honored its life members and remembered those who have died. About 225 people attended the event at the John D. Fuller Recreational Athletic Complex.

Carmichael urged those attending to reflect on the past.

"The endurance of our ancestors ultimately makes us stronger," she said.

NAACP members must remember that tough times in the past turned into opportunities, Carmichael said. Similarly, today's difficulties can become a chance to move forward, she said.

"There is no question there is more we can do," she said. "There is more we must do."

Carmichael said the accomplishments of the past bring hope for accomplishments in the future.

"We must be prepared to make great sacrifices," she said. "Sacrifices of time, treasure and talent to continue this great legacy."

Seven members of the branch received plaques at the banquet. They became life members by agreeing to contribute $750 to the organization over 10 years.

Recognized were Patricia B. Benson, Queen E. Degraphenreid, Wanda R. Lawrence, Thomas Manigo, Yvette McAllister-Stokes, Mary L. McCallum, and Willie Randolph.

Also honored was John Troy, the branch's chaplain, who passed away recently.

"Anytime you need him, he's always there," said Jimmy Buxton, president of the branch. "We miss him."

Degraphenreid said she has been a member of the NAACP for 30 years.

"I decided it was time to make a stronger commitment, given the social injustices and civil rights issues in our state and in our country," she said.

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