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Speaker: Kings dream means taking responsibility

NATCHEZ &8212; Children and teens danced and sang, their voices filling the packed main hall of the Natchez Convention Center.

That&8217;s appropriate, considering participants in this year&8217;s NAPAC &8220;I Have a Dream&8221; luncheon for youth were marking a birthday &8212; that of late civil rights pioneer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

But in the midst of more than two hours of celebration, keynote speaker Ernest &8220;Tony&8221; Fields of Zion Chapel A.M.E. Church issued a call to work for everyone there.

And the &8220;job descriptions&8221; Fields called out during his speech, he said, applied to everyone there.

The &8220;check&8221; King wrote out to subsequent generations &8212; giving them then-unheard-of freedoms, signed in King&8217;s blood &8212; is now overdrawn, Fields said.

That can be seen, Fields said, in the drugs, crime, violence and AIDS that run rampant through the black community, not to mention the vulgarity in popular music and the way children, these days, &8220;don&8217;t take their education seriously.&8221;

He said it can also be seen in the jealousy members of the black community feel towards one another.

&8220;I feel sorry for the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton,&8221; Fields said.

He said that&8217;s because when such black leaders don&8217;t take part in an event, other black people ask where those leaders are. On the other hand, he added, if they do show up, &8220;people say they just want to be seen.&8221;

Stop engaging in such behaviors and take a job, Fields said, naming off several descriptions of jobs that need to be filled, including the positions of:

4Bible scholar: One to teach young people how to follow God&8217;s Word.

4Playstation and Xbox relief chairmen: To get youth away from video games and outside engaging in more active games.

4One especially brave person to teach children to wait until marriage to have sex &8212; or, if they don&8217;t, how to protect themselves.

4And yes, fashion designers and trendsetters to counter the trend of sagging pants.

There&8217;s training to be found as well:

4For teachers, to teach them how to treat every child as their own.

4And for parents, on how to stop complaining to administration and start taking action when their children act up in school.

And at last, Fields said, there&8217;s a call to the draft &8212; for an army to support black leaders so, among other things, &8220;they can bring jobs to this community.&8221;

Finally, Fields issued a call to young people &8220;to aspire, do your best and live the dream.&8221;

There&8217;s nothing wrong with looking up to the next big singer or sports star and wanting to follow in their footsteps, he said.

But he urged them also to look to their local heroes &8212;government and business leaders, judges, ministers and the like &8212; for real-life inspiration.

&8220;Now,&8221; he said, &8220;get out there and accept those job opportunities and replenish (King&8217;s) dream.&8221;