LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission held its nonviolence youth summit on Monday at the Statehouse Convention Center.

One of the event’s goals is to promote the principles of nonviolence and equality among all citizens. Little Rock is just 94 days into 2022, and the capitol city already has 17 homicides. That number is on pace to surpass 64 homicides reported in 2021, so the message of nonviolence could not come at a better time.

Over 3,000 Arkansas kids ages five and up gathered at the Arkansas State Convention Center to learn how to make a difference in their communities.

“The youth are helping realize the dream,” Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission Executive Director Dushun Scarbrough said. “So, we’re doing all we can to help them become agents of change by promoting peace.”

The event held sessions and workshops about anti-bullying and conflict resolution to promote peace and curb violence.

“It really showed how violence leads from ignorance and arrogance and it really doesn’t help anyone,” Catholic High School senior Josh Ramsay said.

“We’ve had countless conventions come through the school because our little area is the right and wrong place to be at the same time,” Arkansas Baptist freshman Bradley Brown said. “We’ve had plenty of them. We’re trying to get things together around the school and area.”

The summit included keynote speakers like hip hop mogul and entrepreneur Percy “Master P” Miller.

“He’s using his platform and partnering with the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission to use the brand of ‘No Limit’ to help change the lives of young people,” Scarbrough explained.

Actor, rapper and model Marion “Pooch” Hall also came to central Arkansas to share his past experiences of overcoming violence.

“A lot of the time these kids are being raised by social media,” Hall said. “I’m a dad of four. It’s important that we come together to make sure we’re giving those principles of respect, manners, class, and love.”

Scarbrough added that violence comes from all walks of life, and that it’s not a black or white issue, but they want to help people change how they think before potentially making a violent decision.