Natchez United invites you to meeting

Published 11:22 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2017

It is certainly no secret that Natchez has a multitude of challenges — declining economy, people and businesses moving away, limited educational success. The truth is that most of these challenges are the result of what those who are from Natchez recognize as the deep wounds that started with unaddressed stress between the races and which now become a struggle between the “haves” and the “have nots” — a struggle in which Natchez is not alone, but one in a million across our country.

The good news is that the story isn’t over! In so many small municipalities across the country, the “haves” have given up, moved on, and left ghost towns where there is little hope for every reviving a “life worth living” for the remaining generations. That is not the case in Natchez!

An inspiring group of the “haves” who remain in Natchez have begun to get involved. They have started meeting to try and craft a plan by which they may begin to provide support for rebuilding education and returning hope to the children and youth of the community. Sadly, because of the powers from the past, their efforts have been questioned by some who have assumed that the involvement is because of some desire to abandon the “have nots” by keeping taxes from rising. This assumption could not be farther from reality!

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The truth is that the concerned “haves” are business owners who are in the habit of monitoring their investments and tracking for “return on investment (ROI).” It is not hard to understand that they believe they are paying high taxes when compared to other districts, and the other districts are performing at higher levels than the Natchez schools. They want to see some level of accountability and ROI in higher levels of student performance and a more educated and prepared workforce — one that will attract and sustain more business in the area.

Unfortunately, other groups have a different opinion. Some people seem to believe that children will learn better in nicer buildings. While there is truth to the claim that the facilities are in need of makeovers or facelifts which may lead to increased motivation, new buildings alone never will teach a child to read.

Equally as unfortunate is the fact that some of the members of the community groups have made comments accusing each other of acting as a result of racial or equally as unattractive motivations. These accusations have added insult to injury! At the end of the day, the bickering and struggling for power has not resulted in improved education, economy, or standard of living for anyone.

But wait — there is actually a silver lining! While there are certainly areas of disagreement in the solutions and strategies, there is agreement in the most critical area: All groups are acting out of an immovable belief in the children of Natchez and in their abilities to achieve at higher levels of proficiency. This common belief may be the best place to begin to find solutions!

A group of young men in the community have come together and call themselves ‘Natchez United.’ They believe the solution is to bring all segments of the community together to rebuild starting with education. Whether one’s motivation is built out of an ethical and moral urgency to support all children in learning, or out of a more selfish desire to see crime decrease and the economy increase, the answer is the same — improve our schools, and educate all children!

Natchez United will be hosting a prayer meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Natchez Grand Hotel. Invitations are being sent to the ministers in town to bring some of their constituents to be part of the unification in prayer asking God to heal the deep tears in the community and to provide insight to all leaders so that they may be able to formulate plans that benefit all members of the community. God promised us when he said, “If my people who are called by my voice will humble themselves and pray, I will heal their land.”

We hope to see you there!
Marvin H. Jeter III is an education consultant, former assistant superintendent, former principal living in Port Gibson.