Martin Luther King Jr. Day focuses on youth
Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Lee Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church marked an effort to get the youth of the community more involved in the ceremony to be able to appreciate what the holiday means, St. Mary Parish NAACP Chapter President Reginald Weary said.
A group of about 50 people marched from City Hall to Lee Chapel as part of a celebration organized by the St. Mary Chapter of the NAACP.
Students from Morgan City Junior High School, Morgan City High School, Central Catholic High School, and Berwick Junior High School participated in the service with Scripture readings, a reading of Ronald Reagan’s proclamation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and a liturgical dance performance. Students also helped organize the service, Weary said.
Children were involved in most aspects of the service except for the guest speaker role, Weary said.
The Rev. Terry Joseph of New Zora Baptist Church said King was the guest speaker at Monday’s service. Joseph said King was a “great man of God who led us where God wanted to lead us.”
Joseph repeated the phrase “I’m still standing” referencing the many difficult times and tribulations people have been through.
“After all the things that Dr. Martin Luther King went through his word is still standing,” Jones said. King was knocked down during his life but was never knocked out, Joseph said.
King was a man who had been beat and was troubled, but kept his eyes on God, Joseph said. “He inspired a whole lot that when times get rough still keep moving,” Joseph said.
“Whatever your vision is and whatever your dream is, go to it. Don’t let nobody deter you from it, but keep God first,” Joseph said.
Weary and other members of the St. Mary Parish NAACP chapter visited Washington, D.C., in 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Joseph compared the life of Paul from the New Testament and how Paul had been shipwrecked and knocked down by his own people to King’s life. Despite Paul’s troubles, whatever state Paul found himself in, he found a way to be content, Joseph said. However, troubles do not last, he said.
Joseph reflected on what King meant to him and his family. “He was a great man for me and my family because many times I wanted to give up, but then I realized that the speech that he did a mountaintop and he’s seen the promised. He said he’s not fearing no man. And that’s how it is, not fearing no man because I got Jesus,” Joseph said.
For next year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony, Weary plans to have kids “run the show,” Weary said.
“We’ll be here for guidance to make sure they’re doing everything. But I think doing that, it’ll give them an opportunity to learn more about what the holiday is instead of just reading it in the books and how they actually lived it,” Weary said.
Next year, Weary plans for the guest speaker to be a student, he said. Weary envisions eventually forming a youth chapter of the St. Mary Parish NAACP.
“In my mind, I think the youth feel a sense of entitlement to the struggles that Dr. King and many of you afforded them,” Weary said during the service.
Weary emphasized the importance, even today, for all people to come together because “we need each other to survive.”