A hundred or so from the Zachary community marched together Jan. 19 singing “We Shall Overcome” while paying tribute to civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Zachary Committee, a nonprofit organization, hosts the annual King march, as well as a back-to-school event for area children and scholarship ball for teens from the Baker and Zachary communities.
The march departed Zachary City Hall on Main Street and proceeded to New Pilgrim Baptist Church on Old Weis Road where the program “When Will There Be Peace?” followed.
King, the slain civil rights activist who worked to end racial segregation, was an advocate of nonviolent protest.
Zachary native Craig King, 22, a pre-law student at Nicholls State University and member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the same fraternity as Martin Luther King Jr., said he participated in the march because he felt it was representative of how far blacks and whites have come together as a nation.
“Mr. King began fighting the good fight, but there is still more work to be done by all races working together,” Craig King said.
The program was dedicated to the children in the community.
“This program tonight is centered around our youth,” said Sharon McKnight, MLK committee co-chairwoman. “This is their night.”
The community event featured children from several choirs and pastors from area churches.
Scripture passages were read by Le’Asya Dunn and Quinn Rubbins; the Pledge of Allegiance led by A.J. Ferguson; the national anthem sung by Janell McNabb; the welcome given by Kayla Pierre; a solo sung by Debra McKee; and essays read by MLK scholarship recipients.
Mayor David Amrhein commended the MLK Committee on their efforts involving children and teens.
“You do a lot for the community, and we’d be proud to partner with you,” Amrhein said.
Members of the MLK Committee include co-chairs McKnight and Fred West, Brenda Barber, Michael Brown, Tina Clark, Johnnie Evans, Carolyn Hall, Sylvester Perkins, Loretta Robinson, Linda Rubbins, JoAnn Sanders, Kerrney Singleton, Gwen Stills and Lillie Young.
Zachary native Lyel Montgomery, a graduate of Zachary High School and Southern University and a Navy veteran who fought in the Gulf War, delivered the message for the evening: “Where There’s Peace.”
“I thank y’all who sowed good seeds in me to prevent me from becoming a knucklehead,” Montgomery said. “Now, we have to do the same for the children in this community.”
Montgomery, who mentors youth and works with an organization that helps teens finish school and get jobs, said it was the Zachary community’s responsibility to ensure efforts are being made to mentor children, look out for children and work together as a community.
“Our youth need you. If you reach out to them, mentor them and sow the seeds of knowledge, you’re creating a beautiful community,” said Montgomery. “It’s about getting kids to become responsible but in a loving way. Love breeds love, it doesn’t breed hatred. Love naturally reciprocates, you don’t have to force it.”
On the topic of peace, Montgomery said, “Everybody has to work together, treat each other equally, respect one another and look out for one another. Without it, we’ll not achieve peace.”
Montgomery said the two elements of peace are love and forgiveness, and the Zachary community should practice both.