‘The Time is Now’: Lake Area set to honor MLK

Published 6:11 am Thursday, January 11, 2024

Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative events kick off in the Lake Area beginning at 7:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 12, with a prayer breakfast at L’Auberge Casino Resort. Other activities are scheduled for Friday, Saturday, Sunday to honor the spirit of the man whose dream was a day when “children would be judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.”

Darlene Wesley, the 28-year KZWA radio personality and program director, agrees that King and other civil rights leaders, including local civil rights leaders, deserve honor, but change hinges on taking action. This year the MLK Day parade theme is, “The Time is Now.”

“Together we have to continue to build a world that honors the principles of love, equality and justice of Martin Luther King Jr.,” Wesley said. “We have much work to do in many areas as it relates to black and brown people. We welcome the spirit of MLK, but it’s time to take action. If not now, when?”

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One action that presents itself as an opportunity is voting, she pointed out. “Don’t sit idly and do nothing when opportunities present themselves,” she said. “The time is now. We can do better.”

Tammy Tousant remembers the first MLK Day Parade in Lake Charles in January 1984. US 171, from Broad Street north to Lake Charles City Limits, became Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Highway. Events were sponsored by the Coalition for Community Progress headed by Basile Miller and Lawrence H. Conley.

The performance of high school bands were much anticipated in the 1980s, and that’s not changed much, according to Anthony Bartie, one of the MLK Day event organizers,, although there is some concern that some schools will not perform if temps dip too low on Monday.

Other Martin Luther King Jr. Day events planned for Lake Charles include an MLK Prayer Walk beginning at 9 a.m. at the MLK Center, 2009 N. Simmons Street on Thursday, Jan. 12. On Saturday, Jan. 13, the Men’s Symposium will meet at the MLK Center at 8 a.m. The MLK Gospel Extravaganza is at 5 p.m. at Mt. Olive Baptist Church at 3007 Enterprise Boulevard on Sunday, Jan. 14, and the 2024 MLK Parade rolls at 11 a.m. from the Lake Charles Events Center, previously referred to as the Civic Center, on Monday, January 15.Line up begins at 8 a.m.

MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer and improve their communities.