Civil Rights marker dedication Saturday

Published 8:39 am Monday, November 17, 2014

Dignitaries from Washington, D.C., to Washington Parish have expressed support for the recognition of Bogalusa’s deceased Civil Rights leader Robert Hicks and the ceremonies that will take place Saturday during the unveiling of the historical land marker to his memory. And several of them plan to be in attendance.

Participants will get to rub shoulders with U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond, Louisiana Sen. Ben Nevers and Rep. Harold Ritchie, Congress of Racial Equality representatives Dave Dennis and Ronnie Moore, the united descendants of the opposing sides in the landmark Plessy versus Ferguson case Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson, integrator of McDonough 19 in New Orleans Leona Tate and local individuals who were involved in the Civil Rights movement.

The project backing goes well beyond those who can make the trip to Bogalusa. U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter and Congressman John Lewis, Washington Parish President Richard Ned Thomas, Bogalusa Mayor Charles Mizell and Franklinton Mayor Wayne Fleming have all sent letters of support. Thomas additionally proclaimed Nov. 22 as a ceremonious day for the sponsoring Robert “Bob” Hicks Foundation for the historic unveiling, and Mizell proclaimed the day March on Washington (Parish) Day” and Hicks Historical Marker Day.

The unveiling celebration will begin at 3 p.m. at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 837 E. Seventh Street, with the March on Washington (Parish). Participants will walk along the street named for a founder and first mayor of Bogalusa, William Sullivan, and take in historic sites including the original Civic and Voters League building, which hosted meetings and rallies during the Civil Rights Era. The march will end outside the former Hicks home, 924 Robert “Bob” Hicks Street, where the first marker for an African American in Washington Parish will then be unveiled.

March participants are invited to carry signs that recognize and honor individuals and organizations that played a part in the local Civil Rights Movement or that express positive messages for today and tomorrow.

The Hicks Foundation has encouraged the learning of local Civil Rights activities by enlisting students from Northshore Charter School and Bogalusa High School to make some signs for marchers prior to the event.

After the unveiling, the gathering will move back to Bethlehem’s Family Life Center for speeches, songs and prayer. The ceremony will end with a meet and greet with the dignitaries and an unnamed special guest.

Foundation Executive Director Barbara Hicks-Collins encourages widespread attendance at what is sure to be an educational and inspiring celebration of what people can accomplish when they take determined action for positive change. The Foundation hopes that by conjuring the vital energy of the 1960s it can spark renewed participation for continuing progress in the community.