Posted: Jan 21, 2013 3:52 PM by AP
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Parades, speeches, prayer and community service marked the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday around Louisiana.
Many marchers held pictures of King as a procession honoring him weaved through a neighborhood in downtown Covington on Monday
In Monroe, employees of a bank planted trees at the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Ouachita, a United Way agency that educates and seeks employment for the disadvantaged.
OIC executive director Juanita Rambo said Monday's project was not the first in which JP Morgan Chase has helped the program.
"They have helped us with a grant program to help train our clients on completing job applications and job interviewing skills," she said. "Chase employees would actually interview clients, then help them with dressing for success. When our clients were job ready, Chase hired those that met their needs."
Another example of King day service projects: The Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination Project partnered with Mayor-President Kip Holden's office and members of the Baton Rouge alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority to clean up seven schools. Southern University students also participated.
Similarly, in Shreveport, Centenary College student volunteers busied themselves cleaning up a dozen sites throughout the city, including local schools and non-profit organizations. The students' beautification efforts included painting, cleaning and making repairs.
Organizations held a variety of service projects in and around New Orleans, where the city's annual Martin Luther King day memorial march stepped off from City Hall on Monday morning.
Despite the celebration of King's message of non-violent social change, the day in New Orleans was marred by violence. Five teenagers were wounded when someone fired shots near an intersection where the parade had passed less than an hour earlier. None of the injuries was believed life-threatening.
"So many young men in America are angry and bitter and here in New Orleans is no exception," police chief Ronal Serpas told reporters at the scene. "And they use violence as a way to settle disputes as opposed to peace. So, anytime we have an act of violence like this on Martin Luther King day it's really a bit more sad."