Johnson urges crowd to work to make dreams come true

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / January 19, 2000

HAHNVILLE – “Sharing the Dream” was the theme of the 12th annual observance of the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in St.Charles Parish.

Nearly 200 gathered Monday, some to walk from the West Bridge Park to the parish courthouse in Hahnville to hear prayer, music and words of inspiration.

Featured speaker at this year’s program was attorney Mark Johnson, a 1987 Hahnville High School graduate and summa cum laude graduate of Xavier University in 1991 who earned a law degree at Stanford University.

Johnson addressed the assembly to remind children to dream their dreams and urged them to work daily toward making those dreams come true.

Johnson said King was called a coward for preaching peace, but now King is recognized as one of the leading figures in human history.

Margaret Marshall, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. CommemorativeOrganization of St. Charles Parish, said children need role models such asJohnson and heroes such as King to inspire them to greatness.

Marshall, a Luling grandmother who can easily remember the days of segregation, when “separate but equal” was the doctrine of the land and African-Americans were forced into second-class citizenship, often tells her grandchildren of those days.

A native of Lucy who has lived in Luling since she was 3 remembers clearly separate schools, rest rooms, water fountains and other humiliations endured by herself and others like her.

These memories have kept her involved in the annual King observances, making 600 sandwiches, lining up speakers and ministers, arranging parades and working to keep the dream alive.

“It allows me to reflect back on the past,” Marshall said.

The day’s observance began with the march from the bridge park, with Grand Marshall Alfred Green, a St. Charles School Board member. More than150 made the 3-mile walk, urged on by the Rev. Dan Washington as theyneared the courthouse, with gospel singing and hand-holding.

Among those making the walk were St. Charles Sheriff Greg Champagne,Councilman Desmond Hilaire and Justice of the Peace L.J. Frickey.Hilaire, later in the program, delivered King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and introduced other public officials in attendance, including Parish President Albert Laque, Rep. Gary Smith, Judge Emile St. Pierre, Judge RobertChaisson, Judge Madeline Jasmine, Councilman Lance Marino, Councilman April Black, Justice of the Peace Alisha Smith and Constable Steven Black.

The heart of the program, though, was the children, and first-place winners of the annual “Share the Dream” essay contest read their essays to the assembly.

In grades K-3, first place was Leona Isaac, a third-grader at Carver Elementary, taught by La’Keisha Smith; second place was Kelly Carlson, a third-grader at New Sarpy Elementary, taught by Patricia Smith; and third place was Jasmine Bryant, a third-grader at Carver Elementary, taught by Rita Joseph.

In grades 4-6, first place was Brandi Smith, a fifth-grader at Schoeffner Elementary, taught by Micque Voges; second place was Kala Keller, a sixth-grader at Schoeffner Elementary, taught by Karen Naquin; and third place was Kristy Mott, a fourth-grader at Carver Elementary, taught by Bridgett Colly.

In grades 7-8, first place was Shatara Ingram, a sixth-grader at Eual Landry Middle School, taught by Mary Guarisco. There were no second andthird place awards made.

In grades 9-12, there was a tie for first place, including Lance Woods, a ninth-grader at Hahnville High School, and Dejalyn Mitchell, a 10th-grader at Destrehan High School. Second place was Jeanne Caire, a ninth-graderat Hahnville High; and third place was Charles Lumar, an 11th-grader at Hahnville High.

The Rev. Frank Johnson, representing Monsanto Co., presented a $1,000donation to the organization for the third consecutive year. The BellBaptist Drill Team, as well as musician Harold Jackson, also performed.

Officers and board members of the organization include secretary Celestine P. Williams, treasurer Lillian K. August and board membersMallory Allen, Oliver Augillard, Barbara Brown, Leslie Carter, Albert Joseph, Pam London, Burnell Moliere and Kamau Odinga.

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