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Youth star in NAPAC luncheon

NATCHEZ — Young boys and girls sang for a crowd of approximately 1,000 guests at Monday’s “I Have a Dream” youth luncheon at the Natchez Convention Center.

Wearing orange T-shirts and jeans, children from the Prince Street Community choir got the crowd clapping in unison in a unified celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.

The program, which the Natchez Association for the Preservation of Afro-American Culture has hosted since 1993, gave young people a chance to shine and be bold, much like King did, NAPAC co-founder and board member Flora Terrell said.

Seventh grader E’keria Williams, the program guide, eloquently introduced each act, which included several speakers and choir performances.

Williams also read sections of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, throughout the program.

The guest speaker, New Orleans attorney Plezetta West, spoke about the four Ps that helped her achieve her dream.

Passion, purpose, patience and prayer can help steer one toward a dream, West said.

The 2001 Natchez High graduate used a quote from Marshall Thurmond to discuss the importance of passion.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs — ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do it,” West said.

She said to achieve a dream one must also live and work with a purpose.

“Choose to be motivated by hope and courage,” West said of living with purpose.

Working toward goals with patience is what separates the successful from the unsuccessful, West said.

She said King worked for change to unify a racially splintered America from 1954 until his death in 1969, which required patience of surmounting countless of roadblocks.

No dream is too big, but one must be patient enough to allow it to materialize to its fullest, West said, citing Oprah Winfrey’s success as an example.

Prayer is the final ingredient to success, West said.

“The soul must be rooted in prayer,” she said.

West said those who create a master plan for their lives should be sure the blueprint also follows the Master’s plan.

Mayor Jake Middleton spoke after West. Middleton also emphasized the importance of prayer.

He told young people to pray every day — not just right before a test — to become successful and grateful.

Raven Stancel, a 16-year-old Natchez High School student, attended the lunch with other members of the Rosette Club.

Stancel said West’s talk was encouraging. Of the four Ps, she said the message of the importance of patience hit her most.

Since Stancel’s dream is to attend Louisiana State University and become a family nurse practitioner, she knows she will need lots of patience.

“I don’t want to have to depend on my mother, I want to do my own thing and provide for myself,” Stancel said.

She said celebrating King’s legacy helps remind her to dream big and work hard to fulfill live her dream.

People of all ages attended the lunch, but the program focused on children in order to instill inspiration in them, Terrell said.

“The (event) is for (children) to show them that they can do things,” Terrell said.

She said the performances are often the first time many of the children have an opportunity to be in front of such as large crowd.

“People realize (on MLK day) the importance of having a dream, and it inspires (the youth) to be successful,” Terrell said.

Other performances also includes individual or groups from Pilgrim Baptist Church, Jerusalem Baptist Church of Kingston, Greater New Bethel Baptist Church, Harvest Baptist Church of Ferriday, The Call to Worship Ministry, Girl Scouts of Woodville and the 4-H Adams County Mod Squad also performed at the program.

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