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2024 MLK/Black History Parade

by Minden Press-Herald

On Saturday the sound of brass filled the streets of downtown Minden as the MLK/Black History Parade took place. After the parade a youth rally was held which featured a battle of the bands, as well as recipients of scholarships and trailblazer awards which recognized individuals for their impact on the local community.

At the youth rally after the parade, four students were presented with the 2024 Endow a Dream Scholarship, with the recipients being Raegan Qualls-Davis, Gabrielle K. Cooper, Aliysha Butler, and Mikiyah Bell.

Another highlight of the event was the recognition of the winners of the Trailblazer Awards. These awards were given out to individuals who have made a positive impact on the local community. 

In the category of community service, Michael Walker was the recipient. “Walker organized an annual Prayer in the Park to pray for the students, faculty /staff, civic leaders, public officials, police, and emergency departments for the past 9 years. Michael and his wife have coordinated fan drives each 4th of July for the past 8 years to help senior citizens. He is one of the coordinators for last year’s and upcoming L’Jarius Sneed Day. Michael also works with several organizations throughout the city including the Dr. Martin Luther King and Juneteenth celebration,” said Gilbert. 

In the category of historian service, Gloria Smith Moody was the recipient. “Starting her teaching career at Webster High School in Minden, Louisiana, she later moved to Sibley High School and then Lakeside, where she fostered a love for history and learning in her students. After 45 years of teaching, she retired but continued her mission of educating others about Black history. Her commitment to preserving African history and culture is evident in her home, which serves as a museum,” said Gilbert. 

In the category of public service, Louisiana State Trooper Jeffery Walker was the recipient. “Jeffery began his career in law enforcement with the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office in 2005. He served there for two years before becoming a member of Cadet Class 88 with the Louisiana State Police. He became a Louisiana State Trooper in June of 2007 stationed at Troop G in Bossier City. Jeffery is currently a member of the 8th National Black State Trooper Coalition and Central States Troopers Coalition of Louisiana,” said Gilbert.

In the category of Entrepreneur Service, Val Clark was the recipient. “In 1984 Val Clark decided to open up his own business as a mechanic at Otto Fast Gas. He diligently served the people in the city and surrounding areas seven days a week, 12 hours a day, holidays, rainy days, and yes, Sundays, before and after church. The business continued to thrive and surpassed any of his expectations,” said Gilbert.

In the category of Education Service, Jerri Musgrow Lee was the recipient. “Without a doubt, Mrs. Lee understood the importance of getting an education.  She made a point to encourage thousands of students throughout her 36 years of teaching and serving children. Her first teaching assignment was at her dear alma mater, Webster High. In 1968 Mrs. Lee accepted the assignment at Dubberly where she became the first African-American teacher to teach a core curriculum class at a predominately white school. Her next assignment was Minden High School where she was blessed to spend 30 years as a foreign language and English teacher.  Mrs. Lee retired from Minden High in June of 2000, but returned to teaching two years later. Her last teaching assignment was at the Webster Parish alternative school where she served as teacher and administrative assistant. Lee served three terms as Police Juror for District 9 and currently serves as Webster Parish School Board member, District 10,” said Gilbert. 

Gilbert stated that this is the best parade Minden has ever seen, stating, “It’s historic in the fact that we had five dynamic bands. We had over 35 entries. We had people here to witness it and enjoy fellowship as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate our history, which is Black history.”

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