Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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July 30, 2013

Trayvon Martin case sparks forum to address youth concerns

Corsicana — A three-hour teen town hall meeting turned real after a couple of hours, and after most of the adults left the MLK Center Tuesday night.

About 25 teenagers attended the meeting, and they seemed pumped up by the messages they heard.

“It was, like, intense,” said Jakayla Chambers, 15.

On a panel of adults speaking to the teens were youth ministers, Tasha White of the Boys and Girls Club, Officer Elbert Corker from the DART Police Department, Navarro County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Morris Steward, and an assistant principal at Corsicana High School, Elmer Avellaneda, among others.

“It was great,” said Michaela Williams, 15. “I got that you can be anything you want to be.”

One topic that was brought up was the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, where an unarmed young black man was killed by a neighborhood watchman.

Shavonda Washington said her son was terrified following the verdict, and laid baseball bats and a golf club by his bed.

Ashley Dowell, a 2002 graduate of CHS, advised the young people to inspire respect so that if something goes wrong there will be people willing to testify about their characters.

“Who could the prosecution find to speak up as to what his character was?” she asked. “What do you want people to say on your behalf?”

Tasha White had harsh words for kids who don’t respect the people who can help them later.

“Respect will take you further than even your education will,” White said. “Adults will want to bless or be helpful to a child who’s respectful to them.”

“There’s something wrong if you’re the smartest person in your group,” White added later in the evening. She told the teens that if their friends celebrate getting grades of 40s and 50s they aren’t going anywhere, and they will take their friends along.

The police officers on the panel advised kids not to run towards a fight because they can get caught up in the arrests, and if they’re stopped to speak respectfully.

Steward told kids to keep their records clean because he urges young people to go into law enforcement, but he can’t hire people with marks on their records.

“Find something you like, be what you want to be,” Steward said.

Billy Harlan with CISD was not on the panel, but he still offered students some advice regarding their on-line behavior. “Just don’t hit send,” he said.

To the girls, he pointed out that if they text a photo and then break up with a boy, that photo will be shared.

“Something you can majorly control is what you put out there in the world,” Harlan said.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

 

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