March, rally in Donaldsonville airs grievances

Michael Tortorich
Glenn Price leads a chant as marchers proceed along Marchand Drive en route to the River Road African American Museum in Donaldsonville Saturday evening.

More than 30 people marched from the Ascension Parish Public Works building on Church Street to the River Road African American Museum near Railroad Avenue for a rally on July 11 in Donaldsonville.

A spectator wearing a Black Lives Matter mask listens to a speaker at the Bicentennial Jazz Plaza.

The group, called the Donaldsonville Community Care Committee, chanted “Black Lives Matter” as deputies with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office escorted participants along Marchand Drive, which is Hwy. 3089 within the city limits. Deputies in cars, and on motorcycles and bicycles, buffered the traffic along the heavily traveled highway.

Signs are displayed, including this one, which reads “I Can’t Breathe” and “Black Lives Matter.”

Many of the protestors held signs as they marched on the particularly hot day. The heat index was 109 degrees when the march began at 5:25 p.m.

A group listens to a speaker during the rally.

“No justice, no peace!” could be heard as marchers passed in front of D’ville Motors Title Service and the B&B Plaza.

After turning on Railroad Avenue, the group gathered around the Bicentennial Jazz Plaza and the neighboring museum on Charles Street.

During the rally, several speakers addressed the crowd, airing a variety of grievances. 

The museum’s co-founder, Darryl Hambrick, welcomed attendees by speaking about the history of the area.

“Look at these young people out here. This is their future,” Hambrick said.

State Sen. Ed Price, who represents District 2, spoke about the challenges of coronavirus, as well as the upcoming elections. He also talked about improving policing

Former state representative Roy Quezaire made remarks about racial disparities in poverty and other societal outcomes.

“We’re here to level the playing field,” he said.

Glenn Price said he previously lived in Houston and Atlanta, but was raised in Donaldsonville. After moving back, he had a conversation with his mother about the changes in the area over the years.

“She said, ‘Go do something. What are you waiting on?’ And she pointed to the door. ‘Get out and do something.’ That’s my mom, she’s straight to the point,” Price said.

Some of the speakers said they do not live in Donaldsonville, but they want to see it improve. Speakers frequently expressed the importance of registering to vote and casting ballots.

Eric Jones said he lives in Atlanta, but has familial ties to the city. He recently hosted a podcast where he interviewed CCC members.

“This place has too much historical significance to look like a third-world country in most places,” Jones said. “You go back of town it looks like an African village. Donaldsonville has got to do better.”

Kurt Mitchell asked the crowd: “What do we do next?”

He asked everyone to raise their hand if they went to any of the city meetings or school board meetings. 

“It wasn’t too many hands that went up. We have to start with ourselves,” Mitchell said.

Attendees gathered for a group photo at the conclusion of the rally. Some posed with a raised a fist.

"This is going down in history,” Hambrick said. “Right here today, you guys are making history.”

The organizers requested a permit for the event, which was approved during a special meeting of the City Council held July 10. Council members unanimously approved it with a 5-0 vote over video conference.

Several signs are held during the rally.