Emmanuel Men sponsor life changing youth forum

The Emmanuel Baptist Church Layman’s League and Veteran’s Ministry united to present a forum entitled Youth, Law and Justice on Saturday, June 8.

Emmanuel Men sponsor life changing youth forum
June 27
03:10 2019

The Emmanuel Baptist Church Layman’s League and Veteran’s Ministry united to present a forum entitled Youth, Law and Justice on Saturday, June 8. The event was designed to explore ways to help prevent youth from making decisions that will get them involved the criminal justice system.

The panel of presenters was comprised of professionals in law enforcement, the criminal justice system and re-entry programs. There was a wealth of knowledge, information, insight and advice from some of the most prominent members of our community. Jennifer L. Martin, chief assistant district attorney, opened the dialogue with an impassioned plea for the young attendees to value education and to avoid the pitfalls that lead to criminal records limiting their opportunities as adults. She provided valuable resource information regarding scholarship opportunities and strongly stressed the importance of education. She shared data revealing that most individuals who end up in the criminal justice system are high school dropouts.

Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough shared his inspiring personal story of coming from the projects in Winston-Salem and rising through the ranks to become the first African American sheriff of Forsyth County. His resounding message was that youth should dream big, set high goals, and work hard to reach their full potential.

Spoken word, recording artist and Emmanuel Associate Minister Demi Day delivered powerful rap selections encouraging youth to persevere to achieve their goals. Her positive form of rap was a stark contrast to the negative and degrading rap young people are exposed to in the mass media.

Antonio Stevenson, who lived the street life resulting in being shot and near death, had a powerful talk with the youth about the consequences of their decisions. He emphasized the importance of staying grounded, respecting their parents, and how their style of dress affects how people perceive them. He stressed that too many young people only want to become athletes instead of focusing on their education. He reiterated the importance of having a “back-up” plan because so few young people actually become professional athletes.  He has shared his life experiences in the book, “Lessons Learned.”

Jarred Smith, a youth in attendance and student at Atkins Academic and Technology School, responded to Antonio’s emphasis on the need to have a back-up plan. While he aspires to become a professional athlete, his back-up plan is to major in sports management and business administration in college. Al’Trevion Jackson, a college student in attendance, attested to the positive impact that Antonio has had on his life.

Panelist Rev. Brent Bailey, who had a personal experience with the correctional system, made a moving presentation imploring youth to resist the dream killers who tell them that they can’t achieve their goals. He explained that being an ex-offender impacts people for the rest of their lives. He stressed that ex-offenders deserve a second chance, but when they re-enter society, they are denied certain rights and benefits. He encouraged the youth to avoid the situations that could ultimately make them a statistic in the justice system. Presenter Sandra Hairston, first assistant United States attorney, Middle District of North Carolina, was a perfect example for the youth of what they can achieve with commitment to education, hard work and perseverance. She  told the students that they have the potential to achieve greatness, stressed  the importance of education, and encouraged them to stay focused and work hard to achieve their goals.

Melvin Little, chairperson of the Emmanuel Baptist Church Layman’s League who served as moderator, stated that this was one of a series of events that the men of Emmanuel will sponsor for youth focusing on reducing the violence occurring in our community.

It was gratifying to hear both Antonio Stevenson and Rev. Bailey, who have made such outstanding achievements, attribute their success to several men in the audience who positively impacted their lives, including Darryl Prince, Oscar Brayboy, Emory Jones and Bill McClain.

Deacon Jerry Dodd closed out the program and acknowledged the veterans who were actively involved in coordinating the outstanding program. Many compliments were made to the men who prepared and served a delicious pancake breakfast with all of the trimmings.

Concerned church groups and community residents who are interested in working collaboratively to help solve some of the problems of youth and crime in our community are invited to join the Men of Emmanuel to continue and expand the youth community outreach initiatives.

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