MLK celebration aims to empower and educate MS youth

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - One of the first events of the coast wide Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration was held today at the Biloxi Civic Center. It's called, "It's a Hood Thing".

"It's a youth summit that is playing off of the stand your ground from Trayvon Martin case. It's a hood thing, is "hood" as in hoodie," said event chairman, Jaleasa Walden.

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day just around the corner, the theme of this informative youth summit was chosen based off of a court case many believe Dr. King would have been a strong advocate for.

"It was to play off of the Trayvon Martin stand your ground case. We're educating them in the large forums, but we're also giving away hoodies to kind of encourage the kids to know it's not about the hoodie. It's about the perception and the character that's inside the hoodie."

Hundreds of students were in attendance at the summit which was made up of four breakout sessions entitled, Respect your hood, Expand your hood, Represent your hood and Know your hood. Amongst guest speakers was newly elected state representative, Jeramey Anderson.

"I was just excited that they thought enough of me to invite me to speak at the event and I think this is a start," said Anderson.

At 21, Representative Anderson is the youngest member of the Mississippi State Legislature, and he tells WLOX what insight he shared with the students

"I talked to them about having a plan, having a dream, understanding what success actually is and understanding that your success may be different than mine."

The summit not only gives the youth life skills, but it also offers them college and ACT preparatory information.

Mariana Strawn, has big hopes of becoming an astrophysicist, and she says the summit taught her some important life skills.

"If I'm going to a press conference I would like to be able to have people take me seriously, and I want to be able to look and dress for the occasion," said Strawn.

This is part of a series of events honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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