Communities throughout Acadiana and South Louisiana will celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with an array of activities, culminating with the national observance Monday that coincides this year with the presidential inauguration.
In Lafayette, the area’s flagship event in a three-day celebration begins with a Martin Luther King Youth Pageant at 4 p.m. Saturday at the MLK Recreation Center.
“Living the Dream: Let’s Keep Moving Forward” is this year’s theme of the celebration, which includes the annual King Holiday Parade at 3 p.m. Sunday, followed by a musical extravaganza at the MLK Recreation Center at 4 p.m.
Attorneys Clyde Simien and Rickey Miniex are serving as parade marshals.
Gerald Boudreaux, chairperson of the MLK Jr. Holiday Committee, said the celebration recognizes “the historical period of time,” as a black president is inaugurated to serve a second term.
The local theme emulates the president’s theme of moving forward, he said.
“We still want to acknowledge we have work to do, and we’ll continue to move forward,” Boudreaux said.
“It takes the collaboration of everybody moving forward in the same direction, not only on a local level but a national level, to make it better.”
On Monday, the Lafayette celebration begins with an 8:30 a.m. flag-raising ceremony Monday at the MLK Recreation Center, to be followed by opening activities and a prayer breakfast at 8:45 a.m.
Educational and cultural activities for youths will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Also scheduled are health screenings, booths and exhibitions.
A community luncheon will be held from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Lafayette festivities will conclude with an Evening Commemorative Program, which will begin at 6 p.m. at the center, and will feature Dr. Calvin Mackie, a managing partner of Channel ZerO Group, LLC, as the guest speaker.
Crowley will host a two-day King observance, which begins at 3 p.m. Sunday with the MLK Celebration Youth Musical at the Greater Love Family Worship Center.
Bishop Louis Dugar will serve as host pastor.
“We need to carry on Dr. King’s wisdom, not only by celebrating his birthday, but in striving upon our hearts,” said Ezora Proctor, chapter president of the Crowley branch of the National Association of Women.
Proctor said a MLK Jr. award will be given Sunday to “an unsung hero who touched lives and makes a difference, and does it in a quiet, unassuming way.”
At 2 p.m. Monday, the celebration continues at the MLK Center. Crowley native Lawrence Jackson, who serves as band director of Southern University, will be the guest speaker.
Also on tap are church youth choirs, singing, liturgical dance and chorale readings.
Festivities culminate with a special MLK tribute during a square-off of the Harlem Ambassadors and the Crowley Bayou Stars at 7 p.m. Monday at Crowley High School, Proctor said.
The basketball game is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Crowley, of which Proctor is a member.
“Renewing Our Mutual Promises” is the theme again this year when Eunice hosts a two-day celebration, which begins with the 2nd Annual MLK Prayer Breakfast at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Southeast Neighborhood Center.
Ministers will pray for world peace, those less fortunate, equality and reconciliation. According to organizer Carlton Frank, Jr., the struggle continues.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, the 27th annual MLK parade will kick off at Eunice City Hall. Lineup is set for 1 p.m.
The parade will end at the Southeast Neighborhood Center, where a program includes the Rev. Caleb Semien, pastor of Word Ministries of Eunice, as guest speaker. An MLK recipient will also be named.
Speakers, a soloist, choirs and dancers are on tap when Loreauville observes the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at 10 a.m. Monday with its 25th Annual March at Loreauville Park.
“I Need You to Survive” is this year’s theme.
The parade will be followed by a program at Our Lady of Victory Church in Loreauville, according to organizer Joyce Sorrell.
Getting healthy is the focus of the MLK observance in New Iberia, which will be held 12 noon to 3 p.m. Monday at West End Park.
The celebration, which theme is “The Dream is Alive,” kicks off with a walk around the park. Healthy living, song, dance and poetry activities follow at the park’s center.
Mercede Boutte, one of the organizers, said the event is part of the West End Health and Wellness Project, which targets diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity in the community.
Due to Inauguration Day, Opelousas will celebrate its 31st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and Memoriam on Sunday instead of Monday.
Festivities kick off with a 1 p.m. parade at South City Park, which will proceed to the Holy Ghost Catholic Church.
The parade marshal is Alfred Dupree, Jr.
A 2 p.m. program follows with the theme of “Forward in Unity.”
“We’re going in the same vein as Dr. King – to inspire people who come to the program to be uplifted, and to encourage them to go out into their communities and make it better than they found it,” organizer Rebecca D. Henry said.
The event’s keynote speaker will be retired educator Charles Ross.
The program also includes orations, gospel choirs, liturgical dance and youth participation.
“The Power of the Dream: A Community Moving Forward with Purpose and Pride” is the theme for the Rayne celebration, kicking off with a 9:30 a.m. march from the Depot Square to the Rayne Civic Center.
Scott Mayor Purvis Morrison is the guest speaker at the program, which follows at 10:30 a.m. Sponsored by the National Association of University’s Rayne Branch, the event includes a health fair, which includes health screenings. Lunch will be served.
“Our goal is for our community to come together and honor our great American hero,” said local NAUW president Dianne Granger. “The program is to educate our children.”
According to Granger, the event also on focuses on recognizing the dreams of the community, including those of the youth and leaders.