Paris, Texas student makes appeal for reconciliation of town’s racial issues

One of the bright spots of my trips back and forth to Paris, Texas has been meeting Jesse Wallace. Jesse is a Paris High School student who is active in extracurricular activities and in his church -Solid Rock Baptist.

Sometimes when you see people you just know. The first time I saw Jesse, he was giving a speech during Black History Month. His words were well thought, his delivery was spot on, and he exuded a maturity that was far beyond his years.

After the service, I made a note of seeking out Jesse and his parents to let each of them know how great of a job I thought he did. As fate would have it, I followed Jesse giving his speech again the next day when I delivered the keynote address for the Paris High School Black History Program.

Jesse and I have kept touch via email since I left Paris last. We’ve had a dialogue on writing -style and content- and I’ve encouraged him to work on it like a craft. This morning my mom had sent me an email that contained a column from Mr. Wallace that ran in the Paris News. I guess we are now co-columnists.

I wish I could take credit for Jesse’s immense talents, but his parents and his teachers had him far along the way before I had ever made a suggestion. The same teachers who some claim cannot teach black male students.

So I’d like to share portions of Jesse’s column ” Hope and optimism in Paris,” which is published on the Paris News website. Great Job Mr. Wallace.

Paris has long been called the best small town in Texas, but it seems as though all the current and temporary issues have deterred Paris from being what it ought to be.

As a baby growing up in Paris, I was introduced to a warm city that was a strong light beaming all across the state of Texas. As I grew into a young boy, I would always wake up early in the morning and go outside to play with the other kids on my block.

There were days when neighbors would get together and converse with one another over a good ole fashioned afternoon of BBQ and fun. Now, granted, you all may have your own individual memories of this great city, but these were the times that made Paris beautiful to me.

Sadly to say, over the years, violence, drugs, racial tension and our own self-resistance has kept this city from growing and further prospering. If there was ever a time to unify and come together, that time would be now.

There are times when we disagree and there will be times when we argue; but, there must also be a time to settle our differences. That time is now.

I’ve always been open to debate public issues concerning the improvement of our city, but at the end of the day we still are a family. Although I admire Mr. Melton (Charles Melton, Paris columnist) for his perseverance in letting the local community know about his views and opinions on various topics, I do not believe fear mongering the public does our country or community any good. Negativism is a turn off, not a turn on.

We are created in God’s image, which means that there is no quitting or giving up on life. God has blessed this city and this country so greatly. I will always believe that He will make a way. We must continue to trust in Him. If He can re-build our city in spite of the fires in 1916, which wiped out most of Paris, He can re-build us now.

I am confident if we let go and let God, He will restore Paris back to its rightful place and ultimately He will bless us in our own personal lives.

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