St. John prepares Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, January 10, 2018

LAPLACE — In celebration of the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a host of festivities are open to St. John the Baptist Parish residents with a reminder to never take hard-fought personal freedoms for granted.

Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church’s Victory Beyond the Walls Ministry and New Pilgrim Baptist Church are holding a youth event and a banquet celebration in advance of the annual East Bank Martin Luther King March & Rally to be held Jan. 15 in LaPlace in honor of the 50th anniversary of King’s passing.

Coordinator Shuntrell Bering said the holiday signifies the long journey toward equal opportunity.

“He [MLK] was a civil rights icon, and we would not have made it here if not for his contributions,” Bering said.

“It’s important for us to remember where we come from so we don’t repeat history. We need to remember the blood, sweat and tears that allow us the right to do these things we take for granted, such as voting.”

The Youth in the Spotlight talent tribute will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, 146 E 20th St. in Reserve.

During the event, young people from St. John the Baptist Parish will present speeches, reports and poems in honor of King, according to Bering.

Also new to this year’s MLK celebration is the 50th anniversary banquet celebration, planned for 7 p.m. Jan. 13 at the church. Open to the public with the purchase of a $20 ticket, the banquet includes dinner and a guest speaker.

On Jan. 15, St. John the Baptist Parish residents are invited to join in a morning march.

Bering said Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church has hosted the event with support from Parish President Natalie Robottom and St. John Parish officials for more than 20 years, often enjoying involvement from Sheriff Mike Tregre and students from local high schools.

Those interested in participating in the MLK March & Rally should line up at 8 a.m. at the intersection of 400 Ory Drive and Belle Pointe Boulevard in LaPlace.

The march commences at 9 a.m. and proceeds up Belle Pointe Boulevard and down Airline Highway to New Wine Christian Fellowship, 1929 W. Airline Highway in LaPlace.

A program featuring Damoine Rutledge as keynote speaker follows at the same location.

For more information about East Bank events, call Bering at 985-789-3214 or Bernadine Sanders at 504-957-3643.

On the West Bank, the West St. John Civic Organization is holding a march and rally at 11 a.m. Jan. 15, starting at the Edgard library and extending down Castle Drive to West St. John Elementary.

West St. John Civic Organization founder and chairperson Russell Jack Jr. said it’s important for residents, especially the younger generation, to take part in the public event.

For the past eight to 10 years, local high schools and elementary school students have taken part in the march. Jack said the 2017 state champion West St. John High football team is expected to participate.

“I think that we need to keep the dream alive and let younger kids know about his effort for equal opportunity so they can carry on the torch,” Jack said. “It’s something that needs to be celebrated.”

Jack said the march is an opportunity to congregate with neighbors united for a positive cause.

Following the march, a rally at West St. John Elementary features guest speakers, acknowledgement of elected officials and readings by students from local schools in honor of King.

For more information on the West Bank event, call Jack at 504-628-2310.