Last updated: November 04. 2013 3:51PM - 1354 Views
Emily M. Hobbs Staff Writer

Emily M. Hobbs/Sampson IndependentNC Tarheel ChalleNGe students lead the group of marchers towards the courthouse downtown. The round trip was just under two miles. The Clinton City Police provided escorts.
Emily M. Hobbs/Sampson IndependentNC Tarheel ChalleNGe students lead the group of marchers towards the courthouse downtown. The round trip was just under two miles. The Clinton City Police provided escorts.
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Saturday morning youth in Sampson County were given the chance to unify with the support of the community, urging them to focus on their future, particularly in the areas of religion, faith and education, and those in attendance were encouraged to participate in activities that provide for their betterment. The march, which started at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 2, was sponsored by the Sampson County Chapter of the NAACP and was geared towards moving the community’s youth in a more beneficial direction.

After registering outside the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center the group gathered to prepare for the march from to the courthouse downtown and back. “March on Sampson County for a Better Future for Our Youth” brought out around 400 participants, including approximately 30 volunteers.

“For a first time event it exceeded our expectations,” said NAAC member Dwight Miller, one of the event’s organizers. “I want to say thanks to volunteers, donors, the Tarheel ChalleNGe, and other sponsors.” Miller said that he enjoyed working on this project.

“We tried to unite the community and that what it was all about,” said Miller. “I can’t tell you how dynamic my co-chairs have been.”

Along with Miller, co-chairs were Whitney Boykin, and Shena Hall. They all reiterated that their mission is to promote unity and diversity for the community by engaging youth and giving them a chance to realize and see for themselves all the supporters that were gathered for them. Supporters wore college attire to help put forth the goal of education for the betterment of society and youth.

When the group gathered at the courthouse at the halfway mark, they stopped and prayed. The group joined hands as a sign of solidarity in focusing on a better future for youth, particularly African-American youth, in Sampson County, and the nation.

Whitney Boykin, who graduated from Clinton High School and attended N.C. Central, said in her speech: “We are here to renew our commitment to our brothers and sisters.”

The crowd responded with lots of cheering and clapping as each of the speakers for the event came up to the podium throughout the event. The audience received encouragement from a variety of community leaders including preachers, local officials, musicians, performers, and sponsors. Speech topics varied from religion and faith and the value of education, to focusing on goals, staying in school and staying out of trouble. Youth were encouraged and reminded that they were the ones in charge of their choices and that the wrong choices could possibly lead to drastic consequences, thus giving them the chance to remember that they must think before acting.

“I thought the event was a success, and it was good to see so many young people and adults supporting the cause,” said Boykin. “I felt it great to see the large number of adults, and the students were able to see that the community supported them and cared about their futures.”

McDonald, Lowes, Food Lion, Clinton City Police and Fire Departments, the Highway Patrol, and local schools were among the supporters for the event. Divine Restoration, a church in Garland, provided a puppet show that entertained and charmed the youngest members of the attendees.

Shena Hall, another event co-chair, is a Union High School graduate and is now an Army Staff Sergent.

“It was awesome working with the community for this event,” said Hall. “We want the young people to understand there is more to life than the negative things going on … that there are people out there that want to support the youth. I look forward to being the co-chairman again next year.” Hall said she hopes this event keeps growing.

“We are hoping everyone comes out and supports us next year and sees our vision,” said Hall. “I want to thank the community and local churches and county and city schools for all they have done for this event.”

The superintendent for Bladen County Schools, Dr. Robert P. Taylor, Ed.D., was one of the main speakers for the event. He was previously an assistant superintendent in Clinton City Schools and he told a story about his family and how education benefited him and his siblings.

Between the speeches the audience was provided a variety of entertainment including step teams, music from a deejay, line dancing, musical presentations, and a variety of other performances. The group was provided with a lunch after the march of hot dogs and hamburgers and other tailgate foods.

Rolling Games Video Trailer, Envy Us Steppers from Rocky Mount, and the Clinton High School Troopers Step Team were some of the featured entertainment. The Rolling Games Video Trailer allowed for 16 people to play video games at one time.

Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at ebrown@civitasmedia.com

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