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Play brings to light gang, gun violence

Jada Simone Dean plays Olivia, older sister to a slain younger brother, in the stage play Samson’s Way.

Jada Simone Dean plays Olivia, older sister to a slain younger brother, in the stage play Samson’s Way.

McDONOUGH — The stage play “Samson’s Way,” directed by Chris Scott, was a hit among Henry County residents over the weekend.

The play touched on a sensitive subject, guns and gang violence.

“We wanted this play to deter youth from getting involved in gangs and messing around with guns,” said Scott.

In light of the recent Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, in Newtown, Conn. — and the more recent incident at Price Middle School in Atlanta — Scott said there was no better time to present the play.

“Samson’s Way” is about Sasha, the mother of 14-year-old Samson Willis, and her family who are on a quest to find who killed Samson exactly one year ago. Samson was an innocent bystander in what was to be a gang-related shooting.

In this play, the neighborhood folks have become very bitter because it doesn’t seem like the police are doing enough to get the drugs and gangs out of their neighborhood, nor have they found Samson’s murderer. The play begins by fast forwarding to the first anniversary of Samson’s death. Some neighbors are trying to hold a prayer vigil for him at the local community center run by Carl Spencer, otherwise known as “Mister.” But they seem to be coming up with resistance from other neighbors who don’t want to get involved for fear of retaliation from the gangs in the area. Since the gang violence is out of control, many neighbors do not want to risk the well being of their loved ones or themselves.

“Samson’s Way is a must-see for parents, grandparents, young adults and teenagers,” Scott said. “It truly examines a social trend that is affecting countless individuals and ravaging our generation.”

The stage play was written 10 years ago by New York native Fulton Hodges. He said he was inspired to write after seeing so many children senselessly losing their lives to gun violence and gang activity in communities all over the world.

“Gun violence has always been an issue in our neighborhoods,” said Hodges. “I knew this 10 years ago, when I wrote the play and I knew it would only get worse if we ignored the situation.”

Scott said, “In today’s society, where our youth seem to be out of control, with disrespect and opportunities alike we need to examine how we communicate with our children and each other. We have to teach the youth to use their minds when it comes down to making conscious decisions and knowing the difference between right and wrong.”

The project was co-produced by Pastor Montez Head of New Harvest Ministries, an advocate of developing and re-establishing programs in Henry County that positively affect the lives of youth.

“We have a gang rivalry going on right now in Henry with our young people,” Head said. “It’s a very serious situation and something has to be done about it.”

Head has worked extensively with Henry County youth through his mentor group called, “NO CHANGE” which is an initiative to try to keep “at-risk” youth from entering the juvenile court system. He was also instrumental in the development of The Youth Leadership of Henry County, a countywide program for high school students designed to develop leadership skills, while addressing community needs, problems and resources through interaction with local leaders.

“Pastor Head’s involvement’s lead to many participants gaining insight into the complex decision-making process that is essential in addressing personal and community issues,” Scott said.

“We need to stand together as a community and pray for our youth,” Hodges told the audience members. “We know what we need to do, so let’s start doing.”