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Pillars of Acadiana: Dana Comeaux

Preserving the Past for Future Generations
Dozier family legacy
Posted at 3:30 AM, Feb 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-20 08:13:15-05
Dana Comeaux

For over 100 years, a white church stands in the center of a neighborhood in Erath.

A place that was once a school for African American children during a time when they were not allowed to get an education. It was something owners Frances and Robert Dozier ignored.

The former slaves wanted their children to have the same opportunities as everyone else, education at the forefront.

"They had the forward thinking to do that and not settle for what was at hand," Dana Comeaux, great-great granddaughter of the Dozier's. "It was rural Erath and African American children weren't considered to have an education. My Great-great grandfather said, I want my kids to have an education. No one else is going to do I'm going to have to do that. He hired an educator to move into his home to teach his children. Others wanted to be part of it and that's how it grew."

Now, 100 years later, the great-great granddaughters of Robert and Frances Dozier work together to preserve their grandparent's legacy.

Dozier family legacy

"This church has always been my center. Always comforting to know that it was here and what went on here, being a little girl and coming to the church. Because my family was Catholic, going to the Catholic church on Sunday and just standing outside just to hear the singing and preaching that would go on here."

Comeaux, an educator herself, works as the St. Mary and Vermilion parishes Head Start Supervisor and Disability Specialist, spends her days making sure kids in both parishes are taken care of; their educational needs met.

"Education has always been prioritized, talked about, get an education and goes as far as you can go," Comeaux said. "It matters, it counts. I have always been surrounded by educators and education."

Her nights are spent trying to get funding to restore the church.

"It's not just a building," Comeaux said. "The dream that I have is that we will restore it and it will be a museum for people to come in and experience the richness and fullness and history that lies within these walls."

Dozier Family Legacy

Comeaux said she got push back from others, but that did not deter her, and she kept moving forward.

"I had people tell me, you're not going to be able to do this, it's not going to be on the National Registry, because there have been different things that have been done to the church because it's over 100 years old," Comeaux said. "If I had listened to those people and not pursued it, this would not have happened."

The plaque that stands just outside of the historic church solidifies its place in the town's history.

However, despite the designation, the building is slowly falling into disrepair.

"Financially, it's hard," Comeaux said. "Secondly it's getting the buy-in from people. They say, Oh, they're having fundraisers and galas trying to restore a building. It's the reasoning behind what we're trying to do. It's the dedication, hard work and passion that goes into this project."

Dozier Family Legacy

Those fundraisers and galas help to replace windows, but not much else. The expense of that along took up almost all of the funds that were raised. It was something that had to be done to protect the rest of the building from outside elements.

"The next step is getting the church rewired," Comeaux said. "It has to be totally wired and we need to fix some loose floorboards."

While the road ahead is a long one, it is a path Comeaux, and her relatives are willing to travel in order to preserve her family history.