The first Youth Empowerment 2005 took place on Friday, April 22nd and Saturday April 23rd, 2005 at Rocky Mount High School. The nearly 1,200 people who came out were treated to music, area step teams, comedy and most of all — hope.
"We put out the call for youth to come together to celebrate each other and to celebrate the fact that they are our future, and that we as a community are concerned about those things that concern them," said Rev. Thomas Walker.
One of the featured acts at the event was gospel hip-hop artist Canton Jones. He said he tours the country attending functions similar to this one, preaching his message in song.
"It's really a message of hope for the youth and for people all over the world," Jones said. "It's a message of giving back to the community, it's a message of bringing the family together, keeping your temper."
Alexia Williams, 13, said she thinks Jones is cute.
"He really ministers to the youth, and it really speaks to me," said Alexia, a seventh-grader at Parker Middle School.
Lamar Battle, 16, said he decided to attend the event so he could learn something new.
"I enjoy how the people who came, they spoke to us and gave us encouragement," said Lamar, a ninth-grader at Nash Central High School.
Quintin Jones, 17, said Rocky Mount doesn't have too many positive activities for young people.
"Them coming here has given us a better opportunity to do something positive in our community," said Quintin, a senior at Rocky Mount High School.
Brittany Cofield, 11, said the event has an important religious message.
"It's teaching me how to know Christ, and it's teaching other people how to know Christ, too," said Brittany, a fifth-grader at Benvenue Elementary School.