Students gather to make a difference

Leslie D. Rose @DvilleNewsie
A group of students pose at the community clean-up site.

     On a brisk morning in historic Donaldsonville, area high school students wiped fog from their eyes, dressed in warm clothing and headed over to the River Road African American Museum for a day of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired service.

     2016 marks the 15th year that the Museum has focused on presenting a King-based program, but it is the first year that said program has been service orientated.

     Executive director, Kathe Hambrick-Jackson said she chose a day of service this year, as was nationally requested by President Barack Obama, that children take their day off from school as a day on to service the community.

     “[The students] were here early, ready to help,” Hambrick-Jackson said.

     While the building still requires approximately $200,000 to be completed, Hambrick-Jackson said she appreciates the students willingness to invest in the future of the project. She plans to allow the Museum to partially function as a student center.

     “We’re hoping that this building will become a STEM center, for science, technology, engineering and math. Although we hope to incorporate reading and the arts, so I actually call it STREAM,” Hambrick-Jackson said.

     More immediate plans for the Museum is to get its Freedom Garden crop-ready for its seventh consecutive year. Students worked diligently on preparing the grounds for that initiative’s continuation.

     Co-founder of the Museum, Darryl Hambrick, credited Coach Brian Richardson for pulling together a group of students to be a part of the community clean-up. Richardson, who also teaches American history and African American studies at Donaldsonville High School, said he believes that the service project is an extension of the lessons he teaches.

     “This is a pass it on thing,” Richardson said. “It’s a responsibility for us to keep the cycle going – just keep passing the torch over and over again. Hopefully one day, some of their kids will come here. We want to keep this thing going – living the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.”

     Along with students and other area residents, Parish Councilman Oliver Joseph also joined the beautification efforts.

     “Martin Luther King – that’s what he was about – community service, and this is one way where I see the kids and myself can give back to the community,” Joseph said.

     The River Road African American Museum, as Joseph explained, is a historical point in Donaldsonville. It has been in existence in the community for more than a decade.