OUR OPINION: Vicksburg is full of positive role models

Published 4:00 am Sunday, February 12, 2023

If the pages of The Post’s weekend edition are any indication, Vicksburg is full of positive role models.

Specifically, our city is blessed with many Black men who are making positive contributions to the community. From Dr. Terence James, who works with children in the Vicksburg Warren School District every day and coaches basketball in his spare time, to the city’s first Black fire chief, Charles Atkins, to Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and more, we are blessed to have a bevy of people dedicated to making our city a better place.

If the events of the last week have shown us anything, it’s that the city’s young Black boys need guidance. They need someone to show them their worth — and that they’re worth more than the trouble in which they could find themselves.

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Research indicates that children without father figures are six times more likely to commit crimes than children who have a strong male presence in their lives. That’s a significant amount, especially in a smaller city like Vicksburg, where we have 27.8% of the population living at or below the poverty line, which the America First Policy Institute indicates is directly correlated to juvenile crime rates.

While Vicksburg has a number of positive male role models in both elected and appointed roles, there’s some good news for those who aren’t in positions of perceived power.

You don’t have to be in a leadership role to be a positive role model and make a difference in a child’s life.

All you have to do is be consistent and be there for them. Whether that’s through coaching a little league sport, leading a tutoring group, volunteering at one of the city’s many local charity organizations or even simply chatting it up with a child at the barber shop, even the smallest actions can make a huge difference in a child’s life.

We might not all be the right person to hold public office or lead a congregation or anything else the world deems of note. But what we can do is make our city better, one child at a time.

It’s up to Vicksburg as a whole to save our young people — and in doing so, we might just save ourselves.