Young to get historic marker

Published 4:57 am Friday, March 9, 2018

On Friday, March 23, beginning at 11:30 a.m. in a dedication ceremony at Second Missionary Baptist Church, at 1412 North Avenue in Bogalusa, Dr. A. Z. Young will finally get the recognition he earned. The Bogalusa native son and civil rights icon will have a State of Louisiana Historic marker at his historic home.

The special guest speaker will be Flozell Daniels Jr., CEO of the Foundation for Louisiana, who will discuss Tulane University’s “Investing in Justice: Truth Telling, Racial Healing and Transformation.” Daniels is an alumnus of Tulane, where he once served as assistant vice president and Executive Director of State and Local Affairs for nine years, before working for the Foundation for Louisiana.

Invited guests include former Bogalusa mayor Toye Taylor, and former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards. The general public is also invited.

Recently, the local paper mill and plant celebrated its 100th anniversary. As an economic engine in Bogalusa, the mill is known by many names — the Great Southern Lumber Company of Bogalusa, Gaylord Container, Crown Zellerbach, Temple Inland and, currently, International Paper — and has employed a large number of African-Americans, including Young.

“My father was employed by the mill for 25 years before his retirement and my uncle was employed at the mill for 40 years until his retirement,” said Emma Dixon, president of the Bogalusa chapter of the AARP. “My brother and other local youth were employed by the mill during the summer while in college to earn funds for college expenses and assist in supporting their family households.”

Young, a World War II veteran who served under Gen. George S. Patton, became the president of the Black Workers Union at the paper mill, at the age of 42. In addition, he served as president of the Local 189A of the United Papermakers and Paperworkers Union.

Under his leadership, the union strove for equality, and he worked to end segregation in hiring, promotions and access to facilities at the paper mill. Young also served as president of the historic Bogalusa Civic and Voters League and led the League through a tumultuous decade of resistance and violence against black citizens’ struggle to end racial segregation.

Young also led the historic 1967 march from Bogalusa to Baton Rouge. “Into the Fire,” a film by Bogalusa native Sailor Jackson Jr., chronicles and highlights the courage and dynamic leadership of Young, and all the other supporters of this dynamic time in American history. The Bogalusa chapter of the AARP screened the movie at its Black History Month program in February of 2017.

Young is just one of the examples of how the mill has played a role in Bogalusa’s African-American community.

Yusef Komunyakaa, an African-American Pulitzer Prize for Poetry winner and Bogalusa native, acknowledged his beloved hometown in his book of poetry titled “Magic City.” In the book, Komunyakaa outlines the impact and function of the mill’s whistle in a poem suitably named “The Whistle.” Komunyakaa describes the whistle’s critical role in regulating the daily cycle of work in the small rural town and its influence on the lives of its residents.