Young marker to be unveiled Friday

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Emma Dixon, program director and coordinator for the A.Z. Young Historic Home Louisiana State Historic Marker event, said that the late Dr. A.Z. Young will be honored on Friday, March 23, at 11:30 a.m. at Second Missionary Baptist Church, his former home church, located at 1412 North Ave. in Bogalusa.

The event will include a dedication ceremony of the Louisiana State Historic Marker for Young’s Bogalusa home. Flozell Daniels Jr., president and CEO of the Foundation for Louisiana, is the scheduled keynote speaker for the event. Daniels will speak on the topic “Investing in Justice: Truth-telling, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT),” a project in collaboration with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and part of the Tulane University Health, Racism and Communication series. Daniels has close family ties to Bogalusa.

The ceremony will be followed by a ribbon cutting at the home site, located at 1119 Young Brothers Road. After the ribbon cutting, a neighborhood block party will be held from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.

When the State Department of Social Services building in Baton Rouge was renamed after Young, the late civil rights pioneer and Bogalusa native, Gov. Edwin Edwards said he recalled how Young worked to bring blacks and whites together peacefully in Louisiana in the 1960s.

“The march was peaceful and it was in the proper context,” Edwards said. “It was an example of what one man can do when he has general concern for the needs of those less fortunate than he.”

The building has since been removed, and the A. Z. Young Park is now in the location.

Young led a march from Bogalusa to the State Capitol in 1967 to protest the treatment of black citizens. Passersby threw rocks and beer cans at the marchers and several were injured. The march was known as “the Gauntlet” by the Louisiana State Police.

After the march, Young continued working for the betterment of the less fortunate. He also was an advocate and promoted voting rights and eventually went to work with the Commissioner of Elections to continue his efforts. He also held other high positions in previous Edwards administrations.

“He set a tone,” Edwards said. “He helped make peaceful relations between the races a reality in Louisiana. It is said that we take nothing out of this world except what we give away while we’re in it. If so, and I believe it to be so, A. Z. Young must have with him a storehouse of treasures, because of the lifetime of his work while he walked among us doing good for people.”

Edwards said it is because of this that it was appropriate that the building — which serves the needs of the unfortunate, the poor, the sick, the disabled and those who have no one to care for them — should be named after Young. Dixon noted that the event honoring Young in Baton Rogue was several years ago, but now, he is finally receiving the honor he deserves in his hometown of Bogalusa.

“In his lifetime he received many honors, but very few in his hometown of Bogalusa,” Dixon said. “I am so humbled and proud to be a part of this effort.”

Young died on Dec. 1, 1993, and he was 73 years old. He is buried in the Bogalusa Cemetery. The seventh annual Bogalusa Wreaths Across America program at the Bogalusa Cemetery was held in December of 2017, and an American flag was flown at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. by the request of U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy. The flag was commemorated in Young’s honor, for his military service under Gen. George Patton.

“The response and excitement from local, parish and state residents has been outstanding,” Dixon said. “We anticipate an exceptional event to honor civil rights icon and luminary Dr. A. Z. Young under the title ‘Illuminating Quantum Leadership’ — his life truly exemplified the wonderful qualities of true servant leadership.”

Friday’s block party will include a live performance by Atlanta music artist Julian Bell “Bobazie Dawson,” and Kenneth Faure, with free admission courtesy of Bogalusa Music Group, LLC and Bogue Magic City Records. Also included will be a Southern fish fry and water slide for the children.