A movement is only as strong as its youth, and that’s something the local NAACP has got a lot of.
The McComb branch of the NAACP’s youth group held its annual youth prayer breakfast Monday at Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center and heard from a former member of the organization over a spread of eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, muffins and more.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the McComb branch of the NAACP and the 63rd year of operation for the youth branch of the McComb NAACP.
Dr. Tylere Nunnery of Ruth is a dentist and said he worked hard to get as far as he has in life. He said the message of the occasion is to work hard to determine your own future.
“Young people — I just want you to know that I pray for y’all,” he said. “I pray for your strength and your focus because I know the world will be pulling against you.”
Nunnery attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where he majored in biology. He wanted to become a dentist but scored poor marks on his first two attempts at the dental school entrance exam and received rejection notices from all seven of the dental schools he applied to. Even that didn’t stop him.
Nunnery said students are only able to take the exam three times at maximum, so he buckled down and studied hard for his third and final attempt. He spent early mornings preparing for the exam before working 10- to 12-hour shifts in a management position.
His dedication paid off, and Nunnery received high marks on his third attempt. Not only did he receive acceptance letters from all seven of the programs which previously rejected him, but he was at the top of their respective lists.
Nunnery ended up attending the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry on a full scholarship and is now a working dentist.
“I’ve had enough, I am enough,” he instructed students to repeat aloud. “We are African Americans. We are achievers. We know the meaning of perseverance. On a scale of one to100, we are 100.”
Nunnery, the son of Pike County Tax Collector Gwendolyn Nunnery, said becoming a dentist was difficult and he often wondered whether he was smart enough or had enough innate talent to complete his coursework.
He had a change of heart before taking the entrance exam for the third time, and said he decided to work to improve on his deficits in order to accomplish his goal of working in dentistry.
“Success is dependent on what you feel about yourself. Desire and success comes from here,” he said, pointing to his heart. “What if I fall? Get back up again.”
McComb NAACP president Mamie Kettle said the importance of maintaining strong youth engagement cannot be understated.
“We must continue the legacy of C.C. Bryant and all the others that’s passed one,” she said, referring to the late McComb Civil Rights leader. “The way you stay strong is youth groups. If we can encourage our youth to continue to grow, we’ll continue to move.”