State representative and Arcadia native Patrick O'Neal Jefferson has a heart and passion for humanity, making him a natural choice to speak at the MLK Commemorative Service at 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Rest Baptist Church.
Jefferson served as Sen. Russell B. Long's last senate page in the United States Senate while in high school.
"After returning from Washington, my drive and thirst to serve crystallized," Jefferson said. Later that year, he graduated as class Valedictorian of Arcadia High School.
Jefferson attended Dillard University of New Orleans and graduated Summa Cum Laude and Class Valedictorian with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English.
Jefferson's first professional appointment was to serve his alma mater as Administrative Assistant to the President and Director of the University's Honors Program. He later served as Dean of Students and departed in 2000 to venture into private practice.
After the devastating winds of Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, he returned to his roots and relocated to north Louisiana where he serves on numerous boards and committees.
He was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in October 2011.
The local MLK celebration will continue with the Minister's Ecumenical March at 8 a.m., Monday, on MLK Drive, with the main parade scheduled for 10 a.m., downtown.
Ahmad Adams, a 10-year-old student at E.S. Richardson Elementary School, will serve as the Grand Marshal.
Adams was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) at the age of eight in 2011. After his cancer was in remission it reappeared in both lungs in February 2013.
He is the son of Toni Thornton and Avery Adams, II and brother of LaJayla.
Monday's parade will end at the Minden Civic Center and the celebration picks up with the MLK Youth Rally which boasts "Big Al" Cherry as speaker.
Big Al is described as a family man, gospel/hip-hop artist, youth pastor, motivational speaker, high school mathematics teacher and humble servant of Jesus Christ.
"As a child, music was an escape route into a limitless realm of comfort and joy to me," Cherry said. "This medium was the tool that God used to draw me into a relationship with the Lord."
During his college career at Grambling State University, Cherry served as praise and worship leader for a campus ministry and a local church. After accepting the call of God to youth ministry, he became youth pastor at Christian Fellowship Assembly of God in Monroe and has been serving in this capacity for the past 10 years and as praise and worship leader for the last five years.
During the youth rally, winners of the parade contest and essay and poster contest will be announced while area youth will showcase their talent.
In conjunction with the MLK Youth Rally, social and civic organizations will be conducting public service projects.