Despite a past of violence and drug distribution as a member of the street gang known as Crips, Cartersville-native Marcus Moore now lives without his colors, having left the gang that led him to more than 10 years in prison.
"Being in a gang is constantly wondering, 'Am I going to die today?'" Moore told the group during one of New Frontier's yearly offerings held at the John H. Morgan gym on Aubrey Street. "You all don't want to go to all those funerals. If it don't change, [gang members] are going to get killed. You all are going to die."
Moore, who said he sustained gunshot wounds, and assaulted and robbed others while in the gang, told the teens that even a family member being associated with a gang puts you at risk. In fact, he said, gang activity puts the whole community at risk.
During Teen Summit, youths also heard from men who overcame other obstacles. Chattahoochee Technical College basketball players spoke about how not having a high school diploma did not deter them from seeking higher education.
The event's keynote speaker, Rev. Carlos Calhoun, youth minister for Greater New Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, said Teen Summit was aimed at encouraging teens who could face a number of pitfalls, including criminal activity, teen pregnancy, sexual transmitted diseases and increased high-school drop-out rates.
"I spoke to them about some of the pitfalls that typically befall young men and some of things they can do to overcome those pitfalls and despite the circumstances still be successful in life," Calhoun said. "Through hard work and diligence and faithfulness they can overcome those obstacles."
For 15-year-old Woodland High School student Jamar Posey, one of the most important lessons offered by Teen Summit was just be yourself.
"Doing the right things in life, you'll be able to achieve some great things," Posey said. "You get messages from all [the speakers]. They all send a message to you, it's just great. I just wish more people came. ... It's good to learn new information about everything."
Organizers said about 80 teens took part in last year's Teen Summit, and attributed the decrease this year to other events taking place in the community Saturday.
"The theme for this year is 'All I do is win: Keys to success,'" Teen Summit Chairman Dwayne Washington said in July. "We're trying to teach these young men that no matter what obstacles they face in life, if you keep a positive attitude and maintain positive relationships with mentors and people within the community then no matter what happens they can win."
-- Features Editor Marie Nesmith contributed to this report.