FigTree Header 10.14


Search The Fig Tree's stories of people who make a difference:

2017 Freedom Fund Banquet Leadership Award Recipients

Retired nurse promotes social justice through NAACP and other groups

Fay Baptiste

At its 2017 Freedom Fund Banquet, Spokane’s NAACP Chapter presented Leadership Awards to four members, Fay Baptiste, Fran Hammond, Jeanne Baynes and the Rev. C. W. Andrews.

The stories of Fay and Fran are shared in this issue. 

Fay Baptiste’s commitment to social justice has expression in her involvement with Greater Spokane Progress, the new Spokane Coalition of Color and the Spokane NAACP Branch, which recently recognized her with one of their annual leadership awards.

It’s important to be involved in social justice issues, especially those affecting the local African-American community, she said.

As a child living outside Philadelphia, Pa., in the 1960s, she encountered racial discrimination.  In school, she gained a strong sense of civic duty and awareness of how government works.  

“Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I have seen all my life the struggle of African Americans for social justice,” she said.  “We still have to struggle.  It’s a constant battle, sometimes subtle and now more open.”

Her father had an influence on her when he attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.  When she and her sister were older, he took them to the 1968 Poor People’s March on Washington, which further sparked her interest in civil rights and social activism.

Fay graduated in 1973 from the former Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital School of Nursing and worked two years there as a registered nurse. 

During a conference with a large non-denominational church she attended, Fay learned about and soon began to work with the Nicky Cruz Outreach Girls Home in Raleigh, N.C., a program that helped young women transition from incarceration and deal with substance abuse.  When the home relocated to Colorado Springs in 1978, she moved with them.

After five years with the outreach program, she returned to her nursing career. 

In Colorado, she met and married David, who was in the U.S. Air Force.  Moving with him, she practiced nursing in several hospitals in Virginia and Germany.  They moved to Spokane in the early 1990s.  He retired in 1995. 

Fay worked at Deaconess Medical Center for 23 years in various areas, including critical care, medical, surgical, pediatrics and mother-baby units.

Since retiring in 2013 after 35 years in nursing, she became more involved with Spokane NAACP.

“From nursing, I know that under our skin, we are all the same.  People discriminate against our ‘packaging’ but our contents are the same,” she said.  “We are all living beings.  Why can’t we just respect each other!”

Currently, she serves on the Executive Committee, Political Action Committee, Freedom Fund Banquet Committee and as assistant secretary. 

She has helped plan candidate forums, assisted with voter registrations and supported many local justice forums and marches.

In August, the NAACP Spokane, Asian Pacific Islanders and Hispanic Business/Professional Association formed the Spokane Coalition of Color. They have held candidate forums for the Spokane and Spokane Valley city councils, school board and judges.

Previously, Fay served on the board of Community Frameworks, which creates affordable housing, and she was a founder and treasurer of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Spokane Chapter, until it closed. 

With Greater Spokane Progress, a collaborative network united to build political strength and equity in the community, she has another outlet for promoting social justice. 

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” she quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” she quoted from South African Bishop Desmond Tutu.

The NAACP was founded by different faiths from their calling to social justice, she said. For Fay, social issues include a range of issues—criminal justice, women’s issues, housing—anywhere people face discrimination.

“As a Christian, I believe social justice is the work of the church and my avenue for ministry,” she said.

For information, call 209-2425.

Copyright © November 2017 - The Fig Tree