Wednesday, January 22, 2014
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH – The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was celebrated Monday in St. John with two parish-wide events. Parish President Natalie Robottom, Administrative staff, Council Members Lucien Gauff, Art Smith, Lennix Madere, and Marvin Perrilloux and a host of other community leaders and residents paid tribute to the Civil Rights leader with marches and programs focused on embracing Dr. King's dream. Other officials participating in one or both ceremonies included: District Attorney Tom Daley, Assessor Whitney Joseph Jr., Judge Madeline Jasmine, Judge Sylvia Taylor Dunn, Sheriff Mike Tregre, Laverne Saulny with Senator Landrieu’s Office, Senator Troy Brown, Representative Randal Gaines, and School Board Member Russell Jack.
The day began with a march and rally co-sponsored by Bethlehem Baptist Church and the New Pilgrim Baptist Church pastored by Reverend Forel Bering and St. John Parish Government. Participants, including residents, churches, East St. John High band, and members of Omega Psi Phi, Zeta Phi Beta and Delta Sigma Theta marched from Belle Pointe Blvd. to the Percy Hebert Building for a program dedicated to Dr. King. Parish President Robottom served as the key-note speaker, centering her speech on Dr. King’s dogma of service and leading by example and a call for the community to do the same.
“As we look back at past years and embark upon this New Year in 2014, I call upon everyone within the sound of my voice to look deep inside for an answer to that question –‘What are you doing for others?’” President Robottom said. “What example are you setting? Are your actions in concert with your words? We cannot lose sight of the Dream - Dr. King’s work opened many doors and allowed us to enjoy the privileges and opportunities that might otherwise not be possible.”
Several members of the community were honored for their service and American Idol finalist Jordan Dorsey and Our Lady of Grace Church Choir led the crowd in song during the event. Jerry Phillips, Yasmin Howard and Jordan Brown received awards for the poster contest.
As the rally on the East Bank concluded, the 7th annual Dr. King celebration began in Edgard with a march and program held by the West St. John Civic Association. The program, filled with motivational discourse and song, resonated the theme of the day: service, reflection and living in unison with the standards Dr. King set.
U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond was the guest speaker and opened with the words of another great African American leader, Nelson Mandela. “With freedom comes responsibility,” Richmond told the large crowd at the center. He stressed the importance of guiding younger generations and teaching them about their history. “You don’t have to be a scholar, lawyer or doctor to make a difference,” Richmond said. “All you have to do is care.”
The Association honored Hillary Bossier and Dray Joseph, two Westbank residents, for their outstanding athletic and civic achievements. In closing, Ms. Chermaine Roybiskie, President of the West St. John Civic Association, thanked all for attending and said the Association will continue to honor King for years to come.