‘You have to grind’ – Plenty of road remains on path to honor Dr. King

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, January 20, 2016

LAPLACE — Kevin George can still remember growing up in Crowley and hearing the national news debate asking if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deserved a federal holiday in his honor.

St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools Superintendent Kevin George, above, addresses the crowd in LaPlace during the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

St. John the Baptist
Parish Public Schools Superintendent Kevin George, above, addresses the crowd in LaPlace during the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

Everyone in his family and many people in his community already hung framed photos of King in their homes.

“I knew what he meant to our family and to our people,” George said. “I remember asking my mom, ‘Why would somebody fight that?’ This is one of the few times, still to this day, that I have seen my mom cry. It’s one of the few times I heard my mom utter these words: ‘I don’t know.’ As a little kid, that touched my heart, because I knew things weren’t where they needed to be in this country.”

George, the superintendent of St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools, said the memory stuck with him as early as 1979 and resonated nearly a decade later when in 1986 Martin Luther King Jr. Day finally became part of the national calendar.

George shared the story during his featured speaker appearances in LaPlace and Edgard as community members on the East and West Banks marched and rallied Monday in King’s honor.

Using a mix of Biblical verses, quotes from King and some mottoes for professional success, George spoke of the opportunity all people have in 2016 to continue King’s legacy.

He offered plenty of thanks to those who came before him, yet focused his words largely on the “grind” that lies ahead for those in St. John the Baptist Parish and beyond.

“God will direct your paths; he will give you a roadmap, but you have to walk,” George said. “You can’t just pray, pop open a Coke and sit back and wait for it to happen. You have to grind. You have to work. You have to get it.”

George said when children see things on television or see people with lots of things, they want it now, all too often skipping  the process of what someone had to go through to get where they are today.

“When you make something, it is a process,” he said. “Dreamers don’t complain about everything you have to go through to make the dream come true. On this day, we’re keeping the dream alive. Dr. King wanted us to live our lives to the fullest and not take the opportunities given to us for granted.

“I appreciate Dr. King. We cannot appreciate him enough because without him we would not be here. We would exist in some semblance of a weakened America. We would not be where we are today.”

George said he asks his children and the students of St. John Parish, “What are you going to do with the opportunity you have? Are you going to waste it away or are you going to be a productive member of this society?”

George was introduced in LaPlace by East St. John High tenth grader Tyjuan Bovie.

The 15-year-old said church leaders at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church taught him a lot about the history of his community and King, which made it an honor to participate Monday.

“I’m one of the young people who has learned from my church,” he said. “I want people to look at me as a leader in our community. I’m young, so it’s a blessing for me to be able to do things like this. We have been through a lot and have come far, but look at us now. We’re strong and smart. We’ve become leaders in the community. We have come a long way.”