Ceremony will honor the late civil rights leader A. Z. Young

Published 6:59 am Friday, July 15, 2016

On Friday, friends, family and the community will gather at the home of A. Z. Young for a dedication ceremony.

The ceremony, which will kick off at 2 p.m., will include the unveiling of a sign and a celebration featuring a cookout and a bounce house for the kids. Young was a veteran of World War II and he returned home to help lead the local civil rights campaign. He later he served the state as executive assistant to Gov. Edwin Edwards for minority affairs and in other positions.

The event is organized by Emma Dixon, president of the neighborhood homeowners association that includes Young’s home.

“The whole goal is to educate our youth and give them more pride in the community,” she said.

Dixon explained she wanted the sign to inspire young people that they could do great things with their life. Specifically, she said she wants to “motivate them to achieve academic and economic success to escape generational and prevalent poverty.”

Dixon said the house isn’t going to be a museum — Young’s son, Rickey, still lives at the Young Brothers Road residence — but a sign will help residents remember early civic leaders. The sign is sponsored by the Washington Parish Men’s Club, and it recommends visitors stop by the African-American Heritage Museum in Hammond for more information.

Dixon is also the head of the local AARP, and in that capacity she writes grants to help improve homes for elderly people. Dixon said that by keeping up neighborhoods and by recognizing houses of historic value, she can show funders that elderly residents care for and keep up their community and this can aid in getting grants.

Among other accomplishments, Dixon said Young helped desegregate the paper mill and he led a march to Baton Rouge.

“When you think of Bogalusa, you think of A. Z. Young,” Dixon said. She said the city was known across the nation for the civil rights struggle and its leadership.

“Bogalusa was the hotbed,” she said. “Recognized throughout the country because of our Deacons of Defense and the Voters League.”

Young died in 1993. However, Dixon believes that he, and the other early residents of the Pvt. George Bailey Subdivision, would be happy to see how the city and the neighborhood has improved.

“The people who started this neighborhood, they’re all dead, but I think they’d be very proud,” Dixon said.

Rickey Young agrees.

“My father would be proud,” he said. “We want people to be aware of the history of Bogalusa. We started setting trends in Bogalusa, and we could be setting trends today.”

Even though the founders of the subdivision are gone, Dixon said she hopes their families will take pride in where they came from.

“We want to build the community back up and let it be a place where former residents and grandchildren of former residents will want to stay,” Dixon said.