By Nathaniel Cline
Actress and performer Kitra Williams is most notably known for her roles in productions director and actor Tyler Perry, bishop T.D. Jakes and Oprah Winfrey. But in the weeks leading to October of this year, Williams, along with several other organizers, will raise awareness of youth violence. She’s invited the public to a fundraiser this Saturday.
“You have people that say ‘we love the youth, oh we’re trying to do this for the youth…but they don’t want to roll their sleeves up and dive in. There is a lot of work to do and it takes a village to do it,” said Williams. “I would say … Make room for the children.”
The message “make room for the children” is the title of a song Williams wrote that she expects a 500-piece choir to sing on Oct. 4 in Washington D.C. at her third annual Million Youth Peace March International starting at the nation’s capital and moving forward to the monument.
A total of 250 Westmoreland children and parents will be sought out as well as youth ambassadors of local schools to represent world peace.
Since the first march in 2011, Williams said the event has attracted individuals from as far as the British Virgin Islands.
In the past two events, Williams says, “We just walked out to the streets proclaiming ‘stop the violence, increase the peace,’” Williams said. “It was just very igniting. We just try to influence [people] to do the right thing and encourage them to act out their differences in a nonviolent way.”
Williams added that one way she is promoting nonviolence is by giving children an opportunity to write and perform on-stage.
Williams found her way to Westmoreland County when she entered a store in Colonial Beach and met Carey Clayton, a 1987 Washington & Lee High graduate, who immediately recognized her from film appearances.
“I said ‘I know you’ and I was just shocked,” said Clayton.
Clayton soon became motivated to encourage his hometown and others to join in the movement.
“I’m excited and I can’t wait to get things underway,” said Carey. “It’s a great opportunity to do something big and I said I would love to be a part of that…it’s just exciting.”
Clayton has introduced Williams to the Westmoreland County School Board and local NAACP chapter. Williams plans to attend the county back-to-school rally in August.
Counselor Derrick Terry, of Structures Youth Home and a behavior specialist at a private school, was approached about the idea by Clayton.
“He told me it’s about helping the youth see what they are doing to themselves and help better ourselves in our future. So, that’s what really made me get on board,” said Terry. “Anything for the youth I’m all ears and I’m trying to be a part of it now.”
For Terry, it was a near fatal crash that motivated him to leave a mark on life and with kids.
“I decided to change my career from being a welder to doing something that can better the children,” Terry said. “Ever since then I’ve been all in.”
Williams said she hopes to attract sponsors, youth members and ambassadors to participate in the march in October.
The march will be followed by a shofar blowing and acting auditions for films beginning at 3 p.m.
A fundraiser and CD signing take place April 27 at 10 a.m. at the Dollar General Store at 505 Euclid Avenue in Colonial Beach. Anyone interested in participating may contact firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.torchofhopeconsulting.org or call 202-455-8871.