Cassopolis organization to host talent show

CASSOPOLIS — This weekend at Ross Beatty Jr.-Sr. High Schools, students will sing, they will dance and they will recite socially conscious poetry inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“For Black History Month we are asking the kids to do something that’s inspirational, something that’s positive, so they can’t just sing a song without knowing the meaning behind it,” said Carmen Peake, the CEO of the League for Encouraging Empowerment, which is putting on the talent showcase. “So kids are going to be reading a poem and putting in some quotes from Martin Luther King or something like that.”

LEE is sponsoring the Black History Month event, which will take place at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24. Admission for the event is $3 and free for children 5 years of age and younger. Participants can be ages 8 through 20 and do not have to be students at Ross Beatty Jr.-Sr. High.

“We have over 20 students that are going to be participating as far as singing or doing a dance or reading a poem or song they wrote or something that they want to share,” Peake said. “Also we will have a group do an interpretive dance from Elkhart, so we’ve got some people from the surrounding areas that are going to be doing different things.”

In addition to the talent showcase, artwork from Bettye Lee-Nichols, a native of Cassopolis that now resides in Atlanta, will be on display in honor Black History Month. According to Peake, who is the artist’s sister, Lee-Nichols often paints portraits and different types of art that tells a story and has some history behind it. This includes a lot of “black art,” as well as abstract pictures and landscapes.

A portion of all proceeds will go to the LEE, which is a local nonprofit company.

“The actual mission is to empower people to build strong character and realize their full potential as responsible citizens and leaders,” Peake said. “We’re providing the people in the community with essential life skills in order to ensure the success of future generations. And for the continued care for outreach, tutoring, mentoring preparation and employment training.”

Thus far, the organization has put on several events, such as a day-long celebration on Martin Luther King Day and an apple pie baking workshop.

LEE wants to help empower everyone in the community and to help them break some of the barriers that exist as far as employment opportunities and success in school. The organization also believes that helping students stay connected to the past can help them in the future.

“The kids in the area still need to know about their culture and learning about what happened in the past,” she said. “It can help their future and they can understand what is going on today is nothing.”

Currently, the talent show is still accepting participants who will adhere to the show’s guidelines. It does not cost to participate. Gift cards will be given away as door prizes. Concessions will not be available.

For more information or to participate in the event, call Kim Brown at (269) 228-0058.

If you go:

What: Talent showcase

Where: Ross Beatty Jr.-Sr. High School

When: 5 p.m. Saturday, February 24

Cost: $3 per person; free for children 5 years and younger

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