Voters’ League sponsors Bogalusa event

Published 10:12 am Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Most marched to the church on foot. Others arrived by horseback. Still others reached the destination in automobiles and bicycles.

Whatever the mode of transportation was along the three-mile route to Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church on Monday for the celebration of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, marchers were filled with joy and gratitude.

Approximately 200 started out on the march that began at the corner of North Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. Many stayed afterward for a stirring program. The keynote address was delivered by Minister Rejas Hart, associate minister at Praise Deliverance Church in Franklinton. In a fiery presentation, Hart told the audience that God knows all, even if man doesn’t think so.

The march and program were sponsored by the Bogalusa Voters’ League. Voters’ League President Marvin Austin Sr. said it was the 29th year for the march.

“I think it went marvelous,” Austin said. “I was very impressed with the young people and speaker. It was the largest crowd inside the facility that stayed after the march. It was a very good program. I was very pleased at the outcome.”

Hart talked about his own demons, including his addiction to heroin many years ago. He and Master of Ceremonies and Bethlehem Baptist Church Associate Pastor Marvin Austin Jr. attended seminary and college together.

“Drugs will take you only so far,” Hart said. “The devil had me on his leash. I thought God didn’t see me, but God knows. God knew what he had planned for me.”

Hart said once when he was arrested in St. Tammany Parish for possession of drugs, he said arresting officers didn’t test the drugs he said was heroin, which meant a life sentence. He was charged with cocaine possession, for which the penalties are not quite as stiff. He said he turned his life around shortly afterward.

“God was already working,” Hart said. “I could turn my life around by doing it His way or my way, which was death. I made the decision then and told God that I was going to ‘give you my life.’”

Hart said man must look for salvation.

“God kept telling me ‘stop trying to do it yourself,’” Hart said. “Let God do it.”

The program included prayers, singing, reading of poems and lyrical dancing.

Central Elementary School students sang selections for the audience. A dance number was performed by Kiera Hall, Jasmine Purvis and Janeisha Patterson. Poems were recited by Darnesha Chapman, Tiyozuz Myers and Darriouna Williams.

Attorney Kelvin May introduced dignitaries in the audience, including Greater Ebenezer Pastor Dr. Raymond Mims, Dr. Atwood Luter of Mount Zion Baptist Church, the Rev. Laverne Cook of Mount Zion M.B. Church in Varnado, minister Keith Merrill of Metropolitan Baptist Church, Celeste Young and the Rev. Michael O’Ree of Christway Ministries. Before the march began, O’Ree led the group in prayer.