Speaking to scores of people in Farmerville’s Willie Davis Jr. Recreation Center, Grambling State University President Frank G. Pogue said “We can’t live in the past, but we must never forget the past.”
“See all Americans, especially our young ones, need to walk through our political, social and economic experiences so they could understand what our race was facing,” said Pogue, the keynote speaker at Union Parish’s first celebration in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he shared personal experiences from his youth and college years at Alabama State University.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the Mall on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Pogue’s struck a chord with the audience of black, white and Latino participants as he used the event’s theme — “Living his Legacy through Me.”
The community event featured Farmerville Mayor ,Stein Baughman, other elected officials, residents, families, retired military officers and the Union Parish Chapter of Grambling State University alumni. The day started Saturday morning in front of the Union Parish Courthouse with a welcome, introductions, prayer and some history before attendees marched to the Davis Center.
Baughman and the Carroll High School ROTC led the mile-long march from the corner of East Water Street and Martin Luther King Blvd.
As the marchers kept up a good pace, there was laughter, jokes, chatting, songs and remembering the times of segregation and how far Farmerville, Union Parish and the nation have come.
Farmerville resident Glenda Glosson brought her two daughters because she felt celebrating Dr. King’s birthday was important for her kids. “When I heard about this special event, I thought this was a excellent experience for my kids,” said Glosson.
At the community center, the crowd enjoyed musical performances by the Union Parish Choir and the Woodlawn Baptist BKS Mimes, among other individuals and groups. Farmerville High School senior Freddie Nute Jr. received a standing ovation as he recited excerpts from King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, lowering his voice and delivering it word for word.
Willie Payne, chairman of Union Parish MLK Committee said though attendance doesn’t define the success of an event, the committee was pleased that more than 125 participants.
“Anytime we can convey the message about unity, love and togetherness, it speaks volume,” said Payne.
As Pogue was leaving the event as people enjoyed jambalaya, he looked around and told an old friend, “This town is behind the defense of Dr. King. I was very impressed by what I’ve seen today. When you see this many people coming out on a Saturday morning to participate then stay so long after, that means Farmerville is committed.”