Booker T. Washington civil rights marchers honored during Sunday church services

“This is the march, this is history, this is what we did”
Published: Sep. 24, 2023 at 11:25 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — It’s been 60 years since students from Booker T. Washington High School in Shreveport marched to protest the beating of the Rev. Harry Blake.

Survivors of the freedom march were honored during services Sunday at St. Mary’s Baptist Church.

“Memories, good memories, bad memories, but we’re here today to celebrate the final march,” said Betty Goines, a member of the Booker T. Washington Class of 1964. “This is the march, this is history, this is what we did.”

As teenagers, the students remember vividly the anger they felt.

They say it wasn’t a riot but instead students resisting the harsh brutality that was being inflicted on them.

“Shreveport was resistant to change at that particular time, and the fact that we had great leaders back in that day who was trying to get integration and get equal rights,” recalled Lonnie Hamilton Jr., another member of the Booker T. Washington Class of 1964.

“That means we’re still on the battlefields. We have not gotten equity so far. And when we look at what’s happening today, we know that the battle has not been won. We’re still fighting.”

A host of events were held over the past week to commemorate a significant time in history not only in northwestern Louisiana but the Civil Rights Movement. That includes the play “Shreveport Rising: We’ve Come This Far by Faith.”

“I was overcome,” said David Barr, author of “Shreveport Rising.” “We spent 11 and a half years writing it, but they spent almost 6o and a half years living it.”

While students say their march was broken up, their will to fight wasn’t broken.