Look to the children, Melton tells MLK group

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 21, 2002

Thelma Watson accepts the Community Service Award at the 13th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast at the Vicksburg Convention Center this morning. Looking on are Omicron Rho Lambda Chapter President James Giles of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, standing, and Project Alpha Leadership Club member Darrin Gibbs..(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[01/21/2002]TV executive Frank Melton today challenged a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship audience in Vicksburg to get more black children on the path to citizenship.

Melton, chief executive officer of TV-3 Inc. and frequent speaker, addressed the annual breakfast sponsored by the Omicron Rho Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity this morning.

Members of the fraternity also honored Thelma Juanita Watson with a community service award at the breakfast. Watson, a native of Vicksburg, received degrees at Campbell College and Alcorn State University before studying at Southern University. She taught in the local school system for 40 years.

Melton has spoken to the assembly in Vicksburg before, but said today was special for him.

“Today is one of the days when I see a group of very young African-American men giving something back to their community,” he said.

Alphi Phi Alpha members presented scholarships to six young people. They also provide support, mentoring and leadership by example, Melton said.

He said the black culture in Mississippi has done many things right, filling the traditionally black colleges and universities in the state to capacity and sending its young people to prestigious institutions of higher learning across the nation.

“There are some things in that dream we need to clean up,” Melton said. “There is something terribly wrong in this country when more of our sons are in prison than in the college classroom. There is something terribly wrong when our value system for our young people has been turned upside down.”

Melton said too many young people have materialistic values only.

“We went to school to get an education,” he said, “Many of our children today are going to school to look good.”

Adults must do better, he said.

“The problem is us,” Melton said. “We’ve spent too much time trying to be something we weren’t designed to be. We were designed to be men and women of character, we were designed to be a culture with a great heart. And we’re drifting, ladies and gentlemen.”

Resources of the black community should be used to help other black people, he said.

“The easiest thing in the world to do is to hurt a human being … but the hardest thing to do is to help a human being,” Melton said.