ACOA pays tribute to Black History Month

Brandie Richardson

     Dozens of senior citizens gathered at the Ascension Council on Aging Gonzales Senior Center on Feb. 23 for the annual Black History Month presentation, led by Gladys Brown.

Numerous speakers touched on different topics relating to the important people and events in African American history, especially those in Louisiana's deep rooted history. Sister Hazel Fowler reenacted apart of Ruby Bridges' history. Bridges is an American activists known for being the first African American child to desegregate into the all white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in the 60's.

Among the many speakers was Gonzales Police Department Chief Sherman Jackson and Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office Lt. Colonel Bobby Webre.

"It takes a collection of everyone, black and white," the Police Chief said. "Let's focus on doing the right thing instead of doing the black thing or the white thing. If we stay focused on making our community better, on both sides, we would be stronger and more united. That way we can conquer the challenges we face today. As long as I am chief I will remain vigilant and I will use my authority to break through to the younger generation."

"This is a time in law enforcement that there is such a divide in our country and it could be easy for us to circle the wagon," Webre said. "It's time for us to be in the community like we never were before."

This year's program was dedicated to the late Richard "Coach" Brown who passed away late last year. Brown was a retired Ascension Parish administrator and was heavily active in the community. His passion was helping children, in not only Ascension Parish, but in surrounding areas as well. He was the co-founder of the Young Men and Young Women of Character mentoring group, among many other things.

"Richard Brown planted seeds all over, wherever he went he planted these seeds and he touched lives,' said Gladys Brown. "His life shall not be in vain. He helped people as he went and as he passed we will never forget him."

Ascension Parish Deputy Michael Brooks sang a song in memory of Brown, who he said touched and helped him in many ways.

The presentation also included a skit titled "Why am I black?" and numerous poems and songs. Dolores Kepp read the history of notable African Americans in Louisiana such as Madam C.J. Walker who was one of the first wealthiest African American women in history, P.B.S. Pinchback, the first African American governor of a U.S state and of Louisiana, and Louis Armstrong, one of the most influential jazz figures to date.