“It’s a time of reflection of where we’ve come from, where we’re at and where we need to go,” said the Rev. Clarence Robinson Jr., associate minister of Beacon Light Missionary Baptist Church in Houma. Robinson was the guest speaker at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Patterson.
“It’s like a double take, two for one,” said Regenia Leonard of Patterson, talking about the inauguration and Martin Luther King Jr. Day being on the same day. “When we grew up, it (the community) was segregated.”
The church service and guest speaker were followed by a march from Good Hope Baptist Church to Cherry Street Park.
This year’s celebration marked a couple important anniversaries relating to the civil rights movement, said St. Mary Parish NACCP President Reginald Weary. This year is the 150 year anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and also the 50-year anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech, Weary said.
Several attendees of the breakfast and social held before the church service shared their feelings on what the day means to them.
“We’ve seen great progress,” said Patterson resident Rosa Butler. Butler said, as a child, she went to “a colored school.”
“So much has been accomplished (in the years since King’s assassination),” said Patterson resident Algertha Wilson.
At least 100 people showed up for the church service and march in Patterson, Weary said.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been celebrated nationally for 30 years since President Ronald Reagan signed Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federally recognized holiday in 1983, Robinson said.
“Just like Dr. King had some things accomplished for the community,” President Obama has to carry on what King started “for all people,” Robinson said. “We should not just be praying for our president, but also for our councilmen here,” he said of city councilmen Joe Russo and Larry Mendoza, who were in attendance.
Robinson said people in the community need to continue the changes that King started. “I’m truly grateful for Dr. King and all the trailblazers,” Robinson said. “We must be willing to open this door for change again.”
The St. Mary NAACP held a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. March and Tribute Celebration at 1:30 p.m. today in Morgan City.
Participants lined up for the march at City Hall in Morgan City and traveled to Mt. Zion Baptist Church. A tribute followed at the church with speaker the Rev. Larry Frank.