By Riley Manning/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – At the Temple of Compassion and Deliverance in Tupelo, a few members gather for a Bible study each Wednesday before the main service.
Led by Bishop Clarence Parks, the group is diverse in age, nationality and profession.
With an election approaching, many members of the study group are taking a closer look at the political system.
“There is so much bitterness between two parties trying to do the same job,” Parks said.
“A government should not be based on the exclusion of a group of people, when its purpose is to care for all people,” he said.
The group as a whole agreed that this exclusive nature also applied to breaking into the job market, of achieving the “American Dream.” They worry that the playing field is not level.
“The idea is that if you graduate high school and get a college degree, you will find employment and life will just work out for you,” said group member Jayme McIntosh.
“I remember my last day of college when my professor turned and said, ‘Oh by the way, 90 percent of getting a job isn’t what you know, it’s who you know.’ Let’s face it, my 90 percent doesn’t look very good.”
Demetrius Blanchard is living evidence of this. He attends the Bible study with his wife Dondreia. They have a 14-year-old son.
“It took me nine years after graduating Mississippi State to find a career at Toyota,” he said.
“Until I did, I worked odd jobs as a security guard, a truck driver, all sorts of things. But you have to have the will, the want-to, to make it.”
Demetrius said there is a huge need for more corporations like Toyota, who hire for some positions as young as age 17. An abundance of jobs strengthens the middle class and allows community members to prosper and become role models. Dondreia said this is especially crucial for the black community, where male role models in business are scarce.