* What: Criminal justice seminar
* When: Registration begins at 8:30 today. Seminar starts at 9. Free lunch provided at noon.
* Where: Chattanooga Choo-Choo Imperial Ballroom
* Admission: Free
Dreaming is hard when people are surrounded by poverty and crime.
NAACP officials want to encourage disadvantaged people to dream anyway. The civil rights organization is hosting a criminal justice seminar to address issues of black-on-black crime, the high population of blacks in prison and the need for jobs.
"We see so much despair ... people have lost faith," said Eric Atkins, seminar coordinator. "We have to start dreaming big, bold dreams."
The NAACP's sixth annual criminal justice seminar is scheduled at 9 a.m. today at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Imperial Ballroom. The theme of the event is "Let the Dreams Live!"
"Trust in the law, faith in the legal process and hope for a better tomorrow are all key elements of allowing the dreams to live throughout our community," Atkins wrote in an NAACP news release.
St. Paul AME Church pastor the Rev. Kenneth Love will lead attendants in a pledge to "Stop the Funerals, Stop the Violence." The Rev. Paul A. McDaniel will be honored with the Thurgood Marshall and Justice Advocate of the Year Award.
Nearly 100 people are expected to attend, said former NAACP president Valoria Armstrong. The event provides networking opportunities and education about the criminal justice system, she said.
The seminar is intended to inform and encourage the community, said James Mapp, NAACP president.
"We're sharing information from experts in the field. That can't help but benefit the total community," he said.
The seminar will have speakers targeting youths and adults.
Youth speakers include Rosalyn Rice, Southeast regional coordinator for the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, and Camilla Bibbs-Lee, community consultant for the Hamilton County Coalition.
Rice will discuss children's advocacy, juvenile justice and conflict resolution strategies. Lee will lead "Breaking Cycles of Dependency: Intervention, Prevention and Community Collaboration."
Speakers targeting adults include Mark Jones of Legal Shield, who will discuss identify theft, and the Rev. Tim Sykes speaking on the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and gun laws. Chattanooga State Deputy Police Chief Curtis Greene will talk about eliminating black-on-black crime and neighborhood safety, and Tom Castelli of the Tennessee ACLU will discuss inmates' rights.
NAACP chapter Vice President Joe Rowe encouraged youth and adults to come.
"This impacts almost every part of life," he said. "To lead a more productive life you've got to understand the law."
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at email@example.com or 423-757-6431.