Community reflects on importance of MLK Day

By By Nichole Osinski / American Press

Martin Luther King Jr. Day has affected

people since 1986, when it was established as a national holiday.

Monday was no different,

as people in Lake Charles observed and celebrated King’s life.

Days before the official holiday festivities were already kicking off with speakers commemorating the civil rights leader,

entertainers performing and plenty of Cajun and Creole food.

Crowds gathered Monday at the Civic

Center and beyond to watch the annual MLK parade, which began at 11 a.m.

There, spectators

watched performers and floats wind their way down the streets.

“Yes, Dr. King Had a Dream; I Too Have a Dream!” — the theme

for this year’s festival — was a reminder to those celebrating to

hold on to King’s vision.

“I think it’s so important that we remember our black heritage, where we’ve come from and the events that have brought us

to this day,” Ethel Mitchell said. “Of course we’re here to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King who had a significant impact

on the black American heritage.”

While many people appreciated the sunny

weather and the chance for a day off, they still found time to reflect

on what the

day was about. Arthur J. Lewis said he was thankful for what King

did and how he inspired others to follow in his footsteps.

“It’s a great celebration for me and definitely I admire what Dr. Martin Luther King did,” Lewis said. “It took a God-sent

preacher to be able to stand through the trials and tribulations that he went through to give the blacks a better place in

life as human beings; he wanted everybody to be treated equal.”

Young and old people celebrated the day. Some spectators said they were continuing to be a part of the tradition they had

been embracing for many years. Others brought their children to partake in their first MLK holiday and to teach them about

the man who inspired thousands.

“It means a day of freedom and we can just enjoy the day to be free and go out and just have a great day,” Mary Jack said.

“People should remember that he had a role in us becoming free and that we now have to learn how to keep the legacy going

and to respect all that he’d done for us.”

Festivities ended with a gumbo cook off

where the winning team, Seafood Palace, earned $1,000 for their prize.

While attendees

enjoyed the food, music and camaraderie, there was an air of

appreciation for the man who ultimately lost his life to create

a better future.

“This is a very memorable occasion;

anytime we can do anything to reflect upon that the life and the legacy

of Dr. King it’s

always very important,” Mark Lewis said. “I know that in my life

I, as well as a lot of people my age, couldn’t be enjoying

the things we have today if it wasn’t for what Dr. King did during

his time when he marched, when he went out of his way to

demand equal rights for African Americans during that time — all

those things that he did are making an impact for us today.”