Martin Luther King Jr.’s nephew visiting Jan. 20 as part of LaPlace service celebration

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, January 9, 2019

LAPLACE — Before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights icon, he was a minister known for his “calm resolve, undeniable courage and steadfast faith,” according to the Rev. Byron Clay of LaPlace.

The community is invited to a Martin Luther King Day service scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at Mount Nebo Baptist Church, located at 198 W. Second Street in LaPlace.

Headed by Clay and the Rev. Augustus Brown Jr., the service includes a presentation by King’s nephew, Isaac Farris, and awards presented to state officials.

Pastors, ministers and community activists from more than 10 surrounding parishes will be in attendance, according to Clay.

“We want to help people recapture the original calling of Martin Luther King Jr.,” Clay said. “He was first and foremost a gospel minister, and somewhere along the way, people have lost that idea. How is it a man could be spit on, wipe it and say ‘I still love you?’ When vicious dogs attacked him, he said ‘We’ll overcome and not back down.’ Only God can operate in a person and have that kind of discipline.”

Isaac Farris

Clay said King taught the world change comes not through division and fury, but through love, prayer and the right to vote.

Farris will reflect on his uncle’s character and contributions while reminding the public to be an active participant in government.

During a fall tour of Southeast Louisiana, Farris told L’OBSERVATEUR voter participation is key to building stronger communities.

School board members, parish council members and state representatives and senators enact locally focused laws each day, often with less gridlock than on the federal level, according to Farris.

“Voting is a civic duty, but it also fosters a sense of belonging,” Farris said in October. “On presidential years, people tend to be more participatory because it’s the highest profile election in our democratic system. The bottom line is, the president will always be a force, but so much that affects our daily lives is happening at the state and local levels.”

During the Jan. 20 proceedings, Governor John Bel Edwards will be honored with the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for his compassion toward the poor and oppressed residents of Louisiana.

Clay said Edwards would be the first governor to receive the award, which has historically gone to ministers and political activists.

Louisiana House of Representatives member Randal L. Gaines is set to receive the Martin Luther King Jr. Public Service award Jan. 20 for his dedication to serving St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parishes since 2012.