'Les Cenelles' makes its way to Lake Charles

'Les Cenelles' makes its way to Lake Charles
Published: Sep. 16, 2015 at 3:03 AM CDT|Updated: Nov. 15, 2015 at 4:03 AM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - "A book that has lasted over the years..." that's how many described "Les Cenelles" – considered one of the most important publications of both Franco-Louisiana and Afro-American history. A collection of Creole poetry published in New Orleans in 1845.

Only five original publications of "Les Cenelles" remain.

Janice Patton a French Immersion Teacher at Barbe High School wants her students to know the value of speaking French.

"French is so important and these types of cultural events get the community out, gets the kids out, it makes them proud to speak French," Patton said.

French immersion students from S.J. Welsh Middle School and Barbe High School were accompanied by a special guest this evening at the Calcasieu Parish Central Library.

Award-winning Louisiana musician and poet laureate, Zachary Richard joined the students for the evening.

"This was the first volume of poetry written by African-Americans in the history of the United States," Richard said.

Richard said that the historical book will be showcased throughout the state and is excited to start in Lake Charles.

"Lake Charles was the first French immersion program, started in 1968 started in Lake Charles so there is a lot of symbolism for me to be here tonight to begin the Louisiana statewide tour of "Les Cenelles," Richard said.

Richard and the students want to make sure Louisianans don't forget about their culture.

"Having all these years of experience has really helped me because I'll be ahead of other people," said Sarah Edwards a French Immersion Student at Barbe High School who recited some of the poetry from "Les Cenelles" tonight.

Mayor Randy Roach was also in attendance and was looking forward to hearing the students recite the poetry.

"It's a speaking, it's a living part of history because those words, though written 170 years ago, they still speak to us as human beings today," Mayor Roach said.

A culture that has lasted over time and will continue to do so.

"Les Cenelles" will be on display at the Calcasieu Parish Central Library in Lake Charles until November 12.