For more than three decades, Lafayette has led the Acadiana region in paying tribute to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with a three-day celebration that kicks off Saturday evening with a host of activities focusing on youth.
This year is no different, say organizers who cite community support as the reason the Hub City festivities remain strong while the number of programs elsewhere have diminished over the years.
“And that’s what keeps us rolling,” said state Sen. Gerald Boudreaux, who has served as chairman of the Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday Committee for years.
This year’s theme is “Living the Dream: Embracing Peace and Hope through Self-Love.”
“It has to happen from within, and if we can have that resonate within our community, how blessed we would be,” Boudreaux said.
He said too many communities have been plagued by turmoil, violence and other negative factors when the focus should be on instilling family values.
“Living the dream would fit so perfect with this scenario,” Boudreaux said. “Hopefully, we can have the community embrace the same thing.”
At 10 a.m. Saturday, a youth concert at the MLK Recreation Center features Front Line Inc. Festivities continue at the center with a musical extravaganza at 1 p.m., followed by the Martin Luther King Pageant at 5 p.m.
On Sunday, Lafayette Parish Sheriff Michael Neustrom will serve as marshal of the 3 p.m. holiday parade, which rolls down MLK Boulevard, beginning at the Clifton Chenier Center and ending at the MLK Recreation Center.
Boudreaux said Neustrom was selected as parade marshal because of the numerous programs he has pioneered for inmates, which help them to become productive citizens.
“When we look at our theme, he brings hope to those who are hopeless,” Boudreaux said.
On Monday, festivities kick off at 8:30 a.m. with a flag-raising ceremony at the MLK Recreation Center. The ceremony is followed by a prayer breakfast at 8:45 a.m. From 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., there will be educational and cultural activities for youth, as well as health screenings, booths and exhibitions .
The Sponsors Recognition/Community Luncheon is Monday from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Evening Commemorative Program, which kicks off at 6 p.m. Monday at the MLK Recreation Center, will feature Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, president of Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.
The fourth annual MLK Prayer Breakfast, scheduled Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Southeast Neighborhood Center, kicks off the tri-parish city’s two-day celebration.
Ardessie Francois, who helps organize the event, said lineup for the 30th annual MLK Celebration will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday. Festivities will culminate at the Dr. Joshua Frank Center, located at New Zion Baptist Church. Serving as guest speaker will be attorney Josie Frank. Francois said the program will also feature an MLK Award honoree, which will be presented by Edward Francois, the 2015 recipient.
“Still I Will Trust Him” is the theme when Loreauville celebrates its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. annual march at 10 a.m. Monday. Founder Joyce Sorrell said the march will begin at Loreauville Park and end at Our Lady of Victory Church with a program following.
MLK festivities include a prayer breakfast Monday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the St. Edward’s School cafeteria. The event’s theme is “Sustaining the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.” Festivities are cosponsored by the St. Edward/St. Jude Catholic Church and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s New Iberia chapter, said church parishioner Deidre Ledbetter.
“Drawing Courage and Strength through a Unified Community Promoting Peace and Justice” is the theme of Rayne’s MLK festivities, which begin Monday with an 8:30 a.m. parade lineup at the Depot Square, followed by a march to Rayne Civic Center. The welcome will be by the Knights of Peter Claver Supreme Lady Hilda Wiltz.
The program, following at the center at 9:30 a.m., will feature a health fair that includes screenings. Festivities include musical selections, an essay and an award presentation. The event’s guest speaker will be attorney Carlos D. Prudhomme.
The event is sponsored by the National Association of University Women’s Rayne Branch.