Actor Carl Anthony Payne speaks to Pine Bluff students at summit

Actor Carl Anthony Payne II recites a poem to Pine Bluff High School students during a Nonviolence Youth Summit event Thursday at McFadden Gymnasium. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
Actor Carl Anthony Payne II recites a poem to Pine Bluff High School students during a Nonviolence Youth Summit event Thursday at McFadden Gymnasium. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

Set to dimmed lights, flameless candle lights and an updated instrumental to The Commodores' "Jesus is Love," Carl Anthony Payne II shared a message of love with Pine Bluff High School students and faculty Thursday afternoon.

"I love to love, and lately I've been feeling like love's in need of ... love," Payne said to start his poem. "So much hate I suffocate trying to breathe, but love! So, I keep my hands on the prowl trying to sow seeds of love.

"... Extend your love to someone exclusively. Love can be affectionate. Love can kiss. Love can touch. Find that person that doesn't love themselves enough and love that person too much."

Best known as recurring character Walter "Cockroach" Bradley on "The Cosby Show" in the 1980s and Cole Brown on "Martin" in the 1990s, Payne highlighted the latest Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission Nonviolence Youth Summit inside McFadden Gymnasium.

Payne also encouraged students to forgive those who have hurt them and make the time they have on earth mean something, referring to the dash (-) that often appears between one's date of birth and date of death on a biography or headstone.

"What's your dash?" Payne said. "What did you do with your dash? How do you want to be delivered? What's your legacy? I know what you're willing to die for. What 'you willing to live for?"

Nonviolence Youth Summits engage students during school assemblies with messages of practicing the principles of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Thursday began a three-day event and ranged from an assembly and celebrity basketball game at Pine Bluff Junior High School to the gathering at Pine Bluff High, where community leaders were honored for their work and celebrities including rapper and actor Romeo Miller and gospel singer Melvin Williams made appearances.

Williams sang a rendition of "Jesus is Love" before Payne's address. He was also in town to perform at a gospel extravaganza that evening at St. Luke AME Church.

"Sometimes people from the outside give a positive experience, and to hear them give their life story ... it inspires [students] and encourages them," said DuShun Scarborough, MLK Commission executive director.

State education secretary Jacob Oliva also presented awards to Sa'vhanna Obasade (first place), Lauren Hudson (second place) and Jade Sanders (third place) for their entries in a nonviolence essay contest.

The high school students also broke into small groups to learn about substance abuse and prevention, workforce readiness, financial literacy, mental health, King's six principles of nonviolence, interaction with law enforcement and bullying.

Scarborough started two new programs on campus, an anti-bullying committee to discuss what to look for in bullying and its effects, and a community group that will address mental illness, violence and cyberbullying.

Longtime KLRT (Fox 16) news anchor Kevin Kelly challenged students to make a promise to stop bullying in schools. Kelly started a "Step Up Stop Bullying" campaign 10 years ago.

"As we speak, across the nation, 160,000 students are not at school because they are afraid they are going to be bullied," Kelly said. "That's unacceptable to me, and it breaks my heart."

Though not in attendance, Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington proclaimed Thursday as Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolence Day in the city and presented a key to the city to Scarborough.

The Commission presented lifetime achievement awards to Interested Citizens for Voter Registration Director the Rev. Jesse Turner, retired PBHS teacher Mattie Collins and KATV photojournalist Marcus McDonald. Community service awards from the Commission went to TOPPS Director Annette Dove, First Ward Living Grace Pantry Director Debra Allen, Pine Bluff Ward 3 Councilwoman Lanette Frazier, CPR Chess Clubs founder Georgia Morris, Phi Beta Sigma's Laverne Tyler and Kappa Alpha Psi's Ray Walker.

As part of the Youth Summit, a Stop the Violence Takeover will be held at Watson Chapel High School this afternoon, as well as an arts program on King at 4:30 p.m. today at TOPPS, 1000 Townsend Drive, and a community block party and food giveaway by First Ward Living Grace Pantry and TMP Amici Aeternum at 5 p.m. Saturday at Christ the Redeemer Church, 3820 W. 20th Ave.

Sponsors include Group Violence Intervention, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Clearwater Paper, Pine Bluff School District, Walmart, KIPR-FM (Power 92 Jams), KOKY-FM and the Praise Network.

  photo  Actor and rapper Romeo Miller (left) helps Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission executive director DuShun Scarborough hype up the crowd at Pine Bluff High School. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  KLRT (Fox 16) news anchor Kevin Kelly addresses bullying with students at Pine Bluff High School. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  Gospel vocalist Marvin Williams talks with students before performing "Jesus is Love" amid a background of flameless candle lights. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  Pine Bluff High School band members and spirit squads lead a peace walk from McFadden Gymnasium to Jordan Stadium. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

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