Legacy Luncheon Five honored for work with black children

Published 12:04 am Sunday, November 28, 2010

Five Vicksburg men were recognized Saturday for their work with black children in churches, volunteer programs and agencies founded to combat delinquency, teen pregnancy, drug abuse and other social problems.

“I hope we as a people get back to being a proud people,” said the Rev. Casey D. Fisher, one of the five honored at the Legacy Luncheon at City Auditorium. “It’s not going to happen by talk, but by action.”

Fisher has been pastor of the Greater Grove Street Baptist Church for nearly 12 years, and during his tenure has overseen the congregation growing from 65 members to more than 600.

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The educational opportunities and programs he administers are aimed not just at the children in his own church but throughout the city and county, Vicksburg Warren School District trustee president Zelmarine Murphy said in presenting Fisher’s award.

Fisher and the other honorees — Walter Beamon, a case manager with Central Mississippi Prevention Services; Joseph Johnson, executive director and founder of Central Mississippi Prevention Services; the Rev. Dexter P. Jones, senior pastor of Triumphant Baptist Church and executive director of Triumphant Ministries; and Nathaniel Williams, founder and director of The Mighty Train of Gospel Choir — are Vicksburg’s “unsung heroes,” Murphy said.

“I can count on any of these gentlemen to make a difference in the lives of our 10,000 (school) children, especially the inner-city children,” Murphy said in her introductory remarks.

The Legacy Luncheon was sponsored by the Museum and Marketplace and organized by project coordinator Thelma Rush. Alcorn State University and the Vicksburg chapter of the Links, Inc. were co-sponsors.

“The youth problem in the community is so profound right now,” Rush said before the program. “The board decided to honor this group who are working with the young men, helping them develop life skills and find a sense of purpose. It’s supposed to come out of the home, but it doesn’t always.”

State Rep. George Flaggs, Democrat from Vicksburg, said those honored are men any parent would want their child to grow up to be like.

“These five represent a community — this community — in a way that molds and shapes the lives of so many people,” Flaggs said. “They are men who see what’s lacking and want to make a difference.”

Jones, whose work includes outreach, food and clothing and prison ministries, has also initiated youth programs at Kings Empowerment Center. He’s been a soccer coach and president of the Vicksburg Soccer Organization as well.

He said he was “humbled” by the award and thanked families for giving him the opportunity to serve them. “If you do what God has called you to do, the doors will open,” Jones said.

Williams, in addition to his gospel group comprised of young people, has been a mentor for Vicksburg Family Development Service and devotes time to a number of different churches. He’s the recipient of such honors as Vicksburg’s Volunteer of the Year and the Governor’s Initiative for Volunteer Excellence.

“It makes no difference what kind of house I live in or what kind of car I drive,” Williams said. “If I can save one child’s life as a volunteer, that’s all I need.”

Beamon, who is also a former law enforcement officer, accepted his award without speaking. Johnson was unable to attend.

About 80 people, including Richard George, president of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, and Sheriff Martin Pace, attended the luncheon, emceed by the Rev. Charles Chiplin. At the piano, Chiplin also accompanied Williams, Jimmie Lewis and Ruby Nichols Regan in rousing hymns and gospel selections.

The Museum and Marketplace is a proposed center for preserving, presenting and interpreting African-American history in order to provide black youths with links to the past, instill pride and self-esteem and inspire them to work to achieve their dreams, Rush said.