After a one-year hiatus due to COVID 19, the annual Martin Luther King Day march in St. Charles Parish returns to celebrate the life and teachings of the legendary activist.
The event, coordinated by the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Organization, will begin at 10:30 Monday at the Westbank Bridge Park in Luling, with a commemorative ceremony to follow at Eual J. Landry Middle School. The ceremony will include guest speakers, local students reading aloud essays they’ve written and a chance for attendees to share in King’s iconic Dream. The march embarks down River Road from the Bridge Park and end at the Landry school gymnasium in Hahnville.
“We’re encouraging folks from all walks of life to attend the event,” said Dwayne LaGrange of the MLK Commemorative Organization. “Last year, we weren’t able to do it, and that was challenging for all of us. I can tell you, this organization has remained intact and driven toward its mission to bring folks together and encourage everyone to share in the Dream of Dr. King.”
One new addition to this year’s event will see young adults who have read their essays at the event in past years speak about what that experience meant to them.
LaGrange said the day never fails to make an impression on him.
“So many people coming together, seeing kids read their essays and really put their hearts into it, that always inspires me,” he said. “This year means that much more because we weren’t able to have it last year. We decided we had to make some decisions to ensure this could go on, make sure we encourage people to mask up, do social distancing as best we can at the ceremony.”
King was and remains an icon, known for advancing civil rights while advocating non-violence. He participated and led marches in a push for African-American voting rights, desegregation and labor rights, inspiring the marches in his honor today. The Nobel Peace Prize winner called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in the summer of 1963. He was assassinated in 1968, but his message has stood the test of time.
The MLK Commemorative Organization was established 37 years ago, and LaGrange said the founders have ensured King’s memory stays at the forefront.
“I tip my cap to them, because they’ve been here since the inception of it, and they’ve kept the fire burning,” LaGrange said. “They’re the heroes, and they make this journey such a pleasure to be a part of.”