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Community leader reflects on being at MLK’s speech, in shadow of confederate statue

Posted: 10:28 PM, Aug 28, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-28 23:33:54-04

Tuesday, August 28, 2018, marks the 55th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

To commemorate Dr. King’s legacy, people in Lafayette gathered at the General Alfred Mouton statue to call on the city to remove it.

In 1922, The United Daughters of the Confederacy installed the statue.

A judge signed an injunction in 1980 after the group filed a lawsuit to block the city from moving the monument to the new city hall on University Avenue.

Now, community members are pushing for its removal.

“We still have a dream, the dream lives on,” said a pastor at the rally.

55 years ago, Dr. King’s in speech Washington DC became a symbol of the civil right’s movement.

The current chairman of Move the Mindset, Fred Prejean was standing in the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial when Dr. King delivered the now famous speech.

“At 17, it was difficult for me to understand quite just what was happening, what was bringing all these different people together. He really had a way of touching people’s hearts. People who were perfect strangers, it turned out to be a family reunion and that was a good feeling,” said Prejean.

At the time, Dr. King’s ideas were not popular with everyone, something Prejean says is similar to the issue of Confederate monuments today.

“If Dr. King were alive, he would be on the front lines of calling for the removal of all Jim Crow monuments. They are monuments saluting white supremacy and that is something Dr. King fought against all of his life,” he said.

Now, Move the Mindset and other Lafayette community members are hoping their message will be heard by city leaders, to take down the statue that they say honors a figure who fought to enslave people of color.

“We have been going to parish council meetings since the first of the year. We’re trying to convince the parish council to challenge the injunction that prevents the council from being moved because we know one of these days we’re going to be before a judge to remove the statue,” he said.