GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Fathers, sons and other men from the community gathered at the Progressive Baptist Church in Gulfport Saturday for a lesson on how to be men.
The Man Power 2016 conference featured various conversations with local pastors, college recruiters and other figures from the community.
Rodney Pascley was inspired to organize the event when he saw a need for African American men to step up and become leaders in their communities.
Pascley's idea is that strong father figures can help lead their kids away from a path of incarceration, but he also believes in the redemption of those who stumbled down that path.
"This conference is deterring you from being an inmate at Harrison County," Pascley said, as several pairs of scared eyes looked upon him.
The audience consisted of mostly fathers and their teenage sons, all nodding in agreement with his proclamations.
"It started from a vision, and that vision has trickled down today to what you see as man power," said Pascley. "We're helping those who are just now getting out of prison to come out and be productive citizens within their community.
"Pascley, a corrections officer, says his goal was to produce a real life "Scared Straight" effect, referring to the program that allows juvenile offenders to tour jails and meet with adult inmates.
"It seems like every other day I've seen an inmate go to the hospital. I've seen one get hit, stabbed 72 times," said Pascley. "I'm not going to paint you a facade that prison life is all just sitting and being quiet."
Pascley's hope was to emphasize that this unfortunately common future can be avoided.
"Our fathers need to be the head of the household and to reach back and show their sons how to be that man," he said. "We all need a second chance, and just because we first messed up, we can learn from our mistakes."