BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – The Bogalusa to Baton Rouge Civil Rights March started 54 years ago on Aug. 10 in 1967, and now in the park that is named after Civil Rights Activist A.Z. Young, a marker honored the first and longest march in the Civil Rights Movement.
“They didn’t make that march in vain, and for other people to recognize that, it does my heart so much good,” said A.Z. Young’s son Rickey Young.
The project began when Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser discovered Louisiana did not have a Civil Rights Trail, so Nungesser, along with the Louisiana Office of Tourism and family members of A.Z. Young, unveiled this new marker.
This marker will honor the 105-mile march, which started in Bogalusa and ended on the steps of the State Capitol on Aug. 20, 1967. Nicknamed “105-mile gauntlet”, the march started with 25 people and was led by civil rights activist A.Z. Young, Robert “Bob” Hicks, and Gayle Jenkins. On the steps of the Capitol, a rally took place where over 600 people listened as Young addressed Governor John McKeithen about employment discrimination and the election of Black people.
It may seem a long way to walk but for civil rights leaders A.Z. Young and Bob Hicks, it was a small price to pay back in 1967 for those who came after.
“Why’d we march? We marched because it took all of the attention. People march because it keeps the people together. When you march, you can’t march by yourself. You have people and giving them something to march for,” said Deacons of Defense President Royan Burris.
Burris said Young determined that they had to do this together, so he knew he had to join.
“What we did is that we had our guns and we went on the side of them so if the clan wanted to start anything they would have to come up with it,” he explained.
The Louisiana Civil Rights Trail reveals inside stories and examines the civil rights era from culture and commerce to desegregation and protests and confrontation. The first marker on the trail is outside the iconic Dooky Chase’s restaurant in New Orleans. The second marker is at the Old State Capitol building in Baton Rouge in honor of the bus boycott. The third marker is in Shreveport at Little Union Baptist Church.
The marker unveiled at the A.Z. Young Park on 800 N. Third Street in Baton Rouge will be the fourth installment.
Aug. 10 marks the official anniversary of this historic event.
To learn more about The Louisiana Civil Rights Trail and the markers, follow this link.