The Donaldsonville Walmart employee break room was transformed into a space for poetry, song, discussion, dance and prayer Monday, February 27.
Walmart associate employee Sheryl Lewis spoke in front of the packed crowd. She read the poem "Hey, Black Child." The writer of the poem is said to be Maya Angelou. However, some say it was originally written by Countee Cullen or Useni Eugene Perkins.
Next, Demetrius White sang "We've Come this Far by Faith."
Shannon Comery Sr., known for his recent campaign for Donaldsonville Mayor spoke about the importance of Black History Month in the community. Comery started a community outreach program called Product of Donaldsonville.
"We set it up to aide the Mayor of Donaldsonville because we know that he can't do everything on his own," Comery said. "We work within the community to try to get people involved and registered to vote. When they have important elections coming up we want to get them involved as it relates to local government."
Comery's organization gives scholarships to students who have a rough year but "finish strong." They have been working on it for two years. Comer'y graduated from Donaldsonville High School in '99.
Since he lost the mayoral election in a close margin, he explained he is planning to finish his business degree next. Currently, he works as the truancy officer with the Ascension School Board.
"Whatever God has for me I'm going to take advantage of it," Comery said.
But the event had little to do with politics, it was about coming together as a community and honoring black culture. Next, a dance treo from The Virginia Baptist Church in Klotzville performed a lyrical routine. The treo was comprised of sisters Kenya and Mya Riney, and Reona Octave.
"Black history shouldn't be just about February," Mayor Sullivan said. "There's so much history, but we have to educate our young people so they know the history of their ancestors. There's so much. No matter what field you talk about, African American history is a part of it."
Sullivan is part of that history. He was the first black supervisor at CFIndustries. He shared that someone once wrote KKK on his locker. An explosion at the plant burned much of his skin. He lectured on the importance of work ethic, which his father instilled in him.
Assistant Store Manager Freda Sykes organized the event on a whim and pulled it off. Manager Zina Anderson said it was with the intent to get more involved with the associates and reach out to the community.
Renard Southall initially gave the call to The Chief. He wore a Barack Obama T-shirt. He spoke about a group he sponsors called Young Men of Character. He explained that the program starts reaching out to children in the fifth grade. His group of mentors visit schools to give children added support to achieve.
"We feel that it's having a real positive effect on them," Southall said.