Telecommunications professor Wes Gehring was awarded the President’s Award from the Muncie NAACP on September 16, 2016, at the NAACP Freedom Fighter’s Banquet.
Gehring heard his name called and questioned whether he had heard correctly because he had no idea that he was going to win any award.
“I’ve been active in trying to help out in every way I could and I guess it was appreciated,” Gehring said. “Anytime I’ve gotten an award before, they kind of forewarn you so they make sure you’re there … I was very appreciative and very surprised.”
A few years ago, Gehring had a close friend who was a victim of racial prejudice. He always wanted to reach out to the NAACP and did so after hearing about his friend’s situation.
“[The NAACP] are there for everybody, just anybody that’s had anything done poorly against them … anybody who’s had a prejudice against them or any kind of issue,” Gehring said. “It’s almost like I would connect it to something like Planned Parenthood in terms of reaching out and trying to help anybody that needs help in any kind of direction.”
Once Gehring connected with the NAACP, he wanted to be more involved, so he began attending meetings and contributing money. He used to frequently march for different causes, and when he joined the NAACP, he felt that he hadn’t been as active or involved as he should have been.
“Even though I’m a professor with a doctorate in film, I have that undergraduate [degree] in social work … my family’s always been real activist-oriented … so it was just a no-brainer, I just don’t know why it took me so long to get active with them,” he said. “I basically see myself as a secular humanist- I want to do for people without rewards or anything like that, just to do it because it’s the right thing to do.”
This award is special to Gehring because he wasn’t working towards it to get it; he was just doing the work for the community. For him, it was like no other award he has ever gotten.
“When you’re a writer at a university … sometimes you kinda have blinders on. You’ve gotta focus on teaching and correcting. I write a lot of books [and] I felt that for too long of a time I maybe had the blinders on. I had to be so focused to do this, that and the other thing so to kind of find an organization locally that I could really embrace and that was doing so much good work … I just wanted to be a part of that,” Gehring said.
Joseph Anderson, president of the Muncie NAACP, said Gehring received the award in recognition of his giving spirit, eagerness to serve and going the extra mile to contribute to NAACP initiatives and special projects.
“He is always putting the need of others before his own,” Anderson said. “Whenever the Branch is in need, he is there providing his wisdom to assist the branch.”