Historic MLK Hearse part of DeRidder commemoration - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Historic MLK Hearse part of DeRidder commemoration

(Source: Theresa Schmidt/KPLC) (Source: Theresa Schmidt/KPLC)
(Source: Theresa Schmidt/KPLC) (Source: Theresa Schmidt/KPLC)
(Source: Theresa Schmidt/KPLC) (Source: Theresa Schmidt/KPLC)

The hearse that brought the body of Martin Luther King Junior from the morgue at the hospital to the funeral home in Tennessee was transported to DeRidder to commemorate MLK's birthday.  Organizers Billy Spikes and Carlos Archield hope seeing the 1966 Cadillac Hearse will spur interest in young people move all who see it:

"I hope it will inspire everyone to remember the dream that Dr. Martin Luther King fought for, to inspire them to do much better in life to love one another and just to appreciate the sacrifice he has done for our country," Archield said.

"When I seen the vehicle, something about it just gave me chill bumps knowing that Dr. Martin Luther King's body was in this hearse.  Dr. Martin Luther King, he was for equal rights for everyone and that's the way our organization is.  We are equal to everyone, we don't see color," Spikes said.

In addition to the hearse, Spikes says the exhibit from a pawn shop in Alexandria also includes the handcuffs put on Rosa Parks when she was escorted from the bus to jail.

Earlier community members processed to the fairgrounds, carrying pictures and signs in honor of the slain civil rights leader. The program they turned out for included inspirational speakers aimed at challenging all to become better people.

Keynote speaker, DeRidder native Dr. Cheryl Mango, of Grambling State University, says King's message goes beyond urging members of different races to love one another.

"I am concerned about the way that black people treat other black people.  I am concerned about the messages in the music.  I am concerned about 800 people being killed in Chicago, usually by their other brothers or sisters. I am concerned," she said.

"The root, the foundation of Dr. King's dream is the assumption that black people first love black people. So we should love black people as we love ourselves," Mango said.

Mango said part of the challenge is to dream big dreams like Dr. King and, rather than succumb to criticizing others and discord seek to elevate and uplift others. 

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