DHS honors Donaldsonville pioneers

Leslie D. Rose @DvilleNewsie

     Five Donaldsonville black history makers were honored at the annual black history program held at Donaldsonville High School on Feb. 26.

     Among those honored was Dr. John Harvey Lowery, who is remembered for using his wealth to improve the conditions of his community, and is said to have believed that education was key for a people to bring themselves out of poverty and into prosperity.   

     Lowery became the first African American doctor in Ascension Parish, graduating with his M.D. in 1894 from New Orleans University (now Dillard University).    However known for his work as a medical doctor, the Lowery Schools got their name from him, thanks to one major move he made in donating land towards the establishment of schools in Donaldsonville and Modeste. When the schools fell on hard times, he paid all the teachers' salaries for an entire year, so the schools which were founded in part with his contributions were then justly named after him.

     Accepting the honor on his behalf was his granddaughter, Yolanda Lowery, who stressed her grandfather’s message about education.

     “Take pride in yourself – take pride in your community,” Lowery said. “Hold your head up, and when you talk to someone, look them in their eyes – don’t look down as if you are inferior – you are inferior to no one. These people paved the way for us – they had to suffer for us, so make them proud. If our forefathers were here, would they be proud of us today?”

     Other recipients included Catherine C. Davis – an educator known for her work in Donaldsonville as an instructor, assistant principal and school board member. Former Ascension Parish Schools superintendent Ralph Ricardo was posthumously honored for his 37 years of educational work in the parish. Kathe Hambrick-Jackson, co-founder of the River Road African American Museum was honored for her community work in Donaldsonville; Tamiko Stroud, Miss Donaldsonville Teen accepted the award on her behalf. Business man and politician, Roy Quezaire accepted an award for his lengthy career and community involvement in various areas, including his hometown of Donaldsonville.

     “It’s so important today that you understand who you are and where you are,” Quezaire said. “Right here in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, you have that power instilled in you to succeed at anything that you want to do. 

     I am so fortunate and blessed, and proud to be a product of Donaldsonville, Louisiana.”

     The program continued with a performance by the school’s senior step team and closing remarks by Principal Marvin Evans which also found a special tribute to the girls basketball team for making it to the second round of girls basketball playoffs.

     Other performances in the program were the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by Tamiko Stroud and Erica Johnson, and a poem by Zahria Victor.