As the theme for Monday’s gathering (“Teamwork makes the dream work”) suggested, “togetherness” and “working together” were the major talking points of the speakers that addressed those in attendance.
During the invocation by Rev. Larry Guidry he said “We are here to celebrate a man who taught us that we can stand together, black and white, rich and poor, educated and uneducated...and that’s what I see when I look out here today.”
Dominick then welcomed Crowley Mayor Greg Jones.
“Dr. King stood for rights for all people, stood for working together and he stood for nonviolence,” said Mayor Jones. “It takes a community working together to make things move forward. And this crowd here today is a good start.”
Crowley City Judge M’elise Trahan spoke next.
“I believe today is a day to urge our children to succeed,” she said. “Just a few hours ago I watched as our President Barack Obama gave his inaugural address and he mentioned one of my favorite quotes from Dr. King,,,”While freedom is a gift from God it must be provided by those on earth.
“Together we can make it happen.”
Frances Barker of P.J.’s Dance Studio Directed by Pamelor Senegal next put on an impressive display with her Liturgical Dance. She drew a standing ovation.
Perhaps the most powerful part of the event was when Alex Johnson of Lafayette, aka “Poetic Soul” and four debutantes from Delta Sigma Theta gave a presentation that, according to Johnson, was created to help the young people of today understand what it truly felt like to be a slave.
Their words will be remembered by those attendance andmany members of the audience shed tears as the group described past history and first person sentences of what it was like to be a slave.
Yolanda Jackson then introduced the day’s keynote speaker Mr. Lawrence Jackson, the director of the Southern University band. Jackson is a Crowley native.
“I am honored to be here today back in Crowley with the public figures, the clergy members and yes, some of my former teachers,” he said to the laughter of those in attendance. “Skin color has never been a detector of whether a man is moral, decent or smart. And you can get bitten by a black snake just as easy as you could a white snake.
“Dr. King once said that ‘teamwork allows common people to achieve the uncommon’,” he continued. “It wasn’t that long ago that our people would be lashed or even lynched if we were caught trying to educate ourselves. These people worked so hard to get to where we are able to get an education. It’s time to stop making excuses for ourselves.
“It’s time for our children to get off Facebook and put your face in a book,” he said as the crowd roared approvingly.
“When I was in school I had a speech impediment....I stuttered and people laughed at me,” he said somewhat emotionally. “But I kept getting good grades. I kept reading books and I kept practicing my instrument.
“I’m here today to tell the youngsters to pull your pants up and hold your heads up high,” he said. “Because if I can do it you can do it.”