‘Opportunity of a lifetime’: Mazique to compete on national stage

Published 10:39 am Saturday, June 22, 2024

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NATCHEZ – Shyrie Mazique knows the value of speaking up and speaking out, and her talent to do so has earned her a trip to a national competition.

Mazique, a 2024 graduate of Natchez High School, will represent Mississippi at the national level of the ACT-SO competitions, sponsored by the NAACP Youth Council which seeks to nurture the generation of advocates.

“The youth compete using their talents in various areas,” said Angela Brooks, sponsor for the Natchez NAACP Branch youth group and mentor to Mazique. “This is the first time we’ve had somebody from Natchez to win at the state level. Shyrie qualified to represent Mississippi July 15-17 in Las Vegas, Nevada.”

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Mazique will be competing in the oratory and dance categories, and she is looking forward to both the competition and the experience. “This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said. “It’s been shocking to be able to show my talents and be rewarded for what I love to do … I’m looking forward to going to Las Vegas and seeing other people’s talents and seeing what the youth can do.”

For the oratory competition, Mazique will present a speech on the topic of climate change.

“I’ll be talking about climate change and its effect on youth, as well as what the youth can do to make their communities better,” Mazique said. “The youth have more influence than other people realize … and we need to try and influence others in our community.”

For the dance competition, Mazique will perform a liturgical praise dance to “Nobody’s Greater,” one of her favorite gospel songs. “I’ve been doing praise dance all my life,” she said. “And this song just sort of expresses how I feel about the Lord.”

Mazique is one of about 50 junior and high school age students in the NAACP junior and youth councils, Brooks said. The organization aims to help educate and engage the youngsters, exposing them to issues affecting voting rights, economic stability, education and social and political status of African-Americans and others. “We’re training the next generation of leaders,” she said, adding that Mazique is an outstanding example of how participating in the NAACP youth programs can help young people develop and grow.

Mazique, the daughter of Ruth Royall, plans to attend Tugaloo University in Jackson and major in sociology. After earning her degree, she plans to join the U.S. Air Force.

She will be traveling to the national competition with her mother and Brooks. Anyone interested in helping offset the expenses of the trip through a Go Fund Me campaign.