FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT)- The NAACP Branch 3049 of Fort Wayne hosted its 73rd Annual Marjorie D. Wickliﬀe Freedom Fund Banquet Sunday evening at Purdue Fort Wayne. They used the event to recognize black business owners in Fort Wayne.
Among those business owners was Thomas Morgan. Morgan owns E&M Tires, a business on the city's south side that has been open for 60 years.
"Our motto is, 'We aim to please,' and we really stick to that motto. We just really, truly aim to please," Morgan said.
Morgan said his dad passed the shop to him.
"I am deeply honored that they would recognize the black community, especially the ones that have been in the community for such a long time," he said.
The NAACP recognizes business owners as the anchors of the city. That's why they pulled out all the stops with awards, speakers, and an appearance from Mayor Tom Henry.
Thelma Russell also owns a business just south of downtown. She's been running T-Lou Alterations for 28 years.
"I learned my trades from two tailors, one from Laos and one was from Germany," Russell said.
She said it started with a small thought to work on her own, but she never thought it would get this far.
"I came on my own, and I did not know that it would take off like it did," she said.
Russell said as a black woman, it's even more of an honor that the community keeps coming back to her and supporting her shops.
"I never thought I would be counted, but I am. I'm up there with the big people," Russell said.
The banquet also served as a fundraiser for the organization.