DECATUR—The balloons are ready and the cake has been ordered. On Jan. 25, 7 p.m., politicians, personalities, families and friends will come together at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center to honor civil rights leader John Evans.
The head of the DeKalb branch of the NAACP turns 80 on Jan. 29. The community is bringing out the bells and whistles for a pre-birthday bash that they’ve tried for weeks to keep a surprise. Evans apparently knows something is up.
“They’re going to have something for me on Jan. 25,” Evans told someone recently. “Are you going to be able to make it?”
He said he wasn’t planning on dancing, just socializing, having fun likely in a business suit. The only other outfit possible would be his overhauls and yellow NAACP shirt—his civil rights clothes.
DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson, who is chairing the event, has organized teams to plan the celebration—and the surprise presentation. He says it means a lot to him to honor a person who has dedicated so much time to helping others.
“We’ll have some of his old friends from back in the day, as well as leaders in our community like Sen. Vincent Fort and radio talk show host Derrick Boazman to come in, dance, have a good time and honor the works of a great man,” said Johnson. “I wasn’t born here, but hearing from other people the stories about John makes me both proud and excited to be a part of this event. Everyday, John fights for the little person’s voice to be heard.”
Evans has headed the DeKalb NAACP for more than 12 years. He also serves as president of his own civil rights organization, Operation Lead. He has received many awards for his community involvement including the DeKalb County Community Development Service Award; the DeKalb NAACP’s Lifetime Achievement Award; Liberty Bell Award from Decatur-DeKalb Bar Association; the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Civil Rights Living Legend Award; and the Masked Award from the United Negro College Fund.
Evans is a former member of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners and former member of the Marta Board of Directors.
Evans also has made noted athletic achievements. He was a former player in the Negro Baseball League and a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame at Mississippi Valley State University.
A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Evans earned his B.S. degree in business administration from Mississippi Valley State University and Tennessee State University. He completed his master’s degree in business administration from Atlanta University.
Evans moved to Atlanta to serve as business manager for the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), a position he held for 13 years. Evans is a member of Ousley United Methodist Church and Omega Psi Phi fraternity.
Evans also served as an instructor at Morris Brown College and DeKalb Community College. He is the father of three grown children: Harvey, Darla and Malia.
“We’re asking for the community to come out and help make this a grand celebration for a grand man of civil rights,” Johnson said.
For more information on how you can contribute or help with the celebration, call Theresa Agee at 404-271-8006 or Malia Evans at 404-626-4214.