A Baton Rouge state senator wants a statue in honor of the late civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. T.J. Jemison Sr. to be placed in the Capitol Complex.
Private funds will be raised to pay for the statue which would be placed in A.Z. Young Park in the shadows of the State Capitol. The park, next-door to the Pentagon Barracks, is named after another Louisiana civil rights leader.
State Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb’s Senate Bill 57 seeking to honor Jemison easily cleared its first legislative hurdle Tuesday.
“He was a pillar in Baton Rouge, in the state of Louisiana, in the nation and in the world,” said Dorsey-Colomb.
“In times of racial dissent in Baton Rouge, the Rev. Jemison was the voice of calm,” said Dorsey-Colomb of her former pastor.
Dorsey-Colomb said the Baton Rouge Area Foundation will be the conduit through which donations will be made.
Jemison is a former long-time president of the National Baptist Convention USA – the largest black Baptist organization in the U.S. He was known as the architect of the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott, which served as a nonviolent protest model of one two years later in Montgomery, Ala., led by the Rev. Martin Luther King.
Jemison died at age 95 in 2013.
Jemison’s son, Theodore Judson Jemison Jr. told the panel that back in the turbulent 1960s, a few people decided to stand together to get this state moving forward together and make race relations better” and his father was one of them.
“My Dad and (then) Gov. John McKeithen became great friends through the years,” Jemison said.
Upon McKeithen’s death in 1999, it was the Rev. Jemison who the McKeithen family called upon “to speak over him” because they were “true friends,” his son said.
Dorsey-Colomb said she looked up the meaning of Jemison’s first name, Theodore. “It means God’s gift,” she said. “He was God’s gift to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the nation and the world.”
The bill gained unanimous approval from the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee and now advances to the Senate floor for a vote.