Narratives are personal stories that help enrich the reader’s understanding of a time period, person, place, or event. These are first-person views of history taken from personal recollections, memoirs, diaries, and oral histories.

Information included in this section is not fact checked by the Encyclopedia staff. The author of the Narrative is entirely responsible for its content.

On May 14, 2012, the federal Character Education Partnership (CEP) recognized Lee County School District from Marianna as a 2012 Promising Practice for its “Our Story” Youth Leadership Conference practice.

“Our Story” Youth Leadership Conference is a unique service learning project that began in Marianna on March 9, 2010. The conference started as a one-day event, but has now grown into an entire weekend, with other events scheduled throughout the year. Each year, we work to bring former graduates back to Marianna to pour into the community’s youth, parents, and educators. Since the inception of “Our Story,” 27 graduates have returned to share their stories of growing up and overcoming the negative events Marianna has been known for since the late 1980s. The school district has about 1,200 students grades PreK–12. Each year in March, we spend at least two hours at each school motivating, encouraging, and inspiring the students, educators, and parents. We always provide the students with trinkets that have the “Our Story” logo on them as a reminder that everyone has a story. The highlight of the conference is awarding at least five students with a $500 scholarship each year. The ultimate vision of “Our Story” is for the recipients of the scholarship to collectively award a scholarship to a deserving senior the following year, following the motto, “If you leave and grow, you can come back and plant.”—Marquis Cooper.

This year’s winning practices include unique anti-bullying programs, successful integration of academics and character, self-motivation and goal-setting strategies, service-learning activities, and community outreach.

Marquis Cooper
Little Rock, AR

For years, the city of Marianna has been overshadowed by negative stories that caused many people to overlook all the great things for which the town is responsible. The story of the Chambers brothers in the late 1980s (leaders of a Marianna to Detroit crack cocaine connection) created a dark shadow that the city has never been able to live down.
Recently, stories of Curtis Vance (convicted of killing KATV anchorwoman Anne Pressly), Maurice Clemmons (killed by police who sought him for the shooting deaths of four police officers in Washington State), and now Operation Delta Blues (a major drug raid that netted 70 indictments) further validated the point that Marianna was only producing thugs, murderers, and drug dealers.
It was stories and events like these that ignited the “Our Story” Youth Leadership Conference. We felt something positive and encouraging needed to be done to show people that a new era of those who are concerned about the community has now arisen.
On March 12, 2010, the alumni of the Lee County School District held our 1st Annual “Our Story” Youth Leadership Conference. We had graduates from the classes of 1990–2001 come back and share in this awesome event.
March 11, 2011, was the 2nd Annual “Our Story” Youth Leadership Conference. We had seventeen former graduates from six states who played a major role in making this event a success. The highlight of the conference was having enough funds to sow $500 scholarships into the lives of five very deserving students.
Our goal this year is to host a three-day event March 9–11, 2012. It is my desire that others will join the “Our Story” movement so we can change the image of the past and move forward into the future.

Marquis Cooper
Little Rock, AR