The highlight of Shreveport's Civil Rights Golden Anniversary was Sunday, when the Shreveport Fire Department honored Dr. C. O. Simpkins and Dr. Harry Blake for their efforts in the Civil Rights Movement.
Simpkins was given an ax for his ability to break down barriers. He’s a national civil rights icon known as the father of the Civil Rights Movement in North Louisiana. He’s a founding member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, serving as Vice President under Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Locally, his house was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan for his attempts to get blacks to register to vote. He’s also the first black man
to run for a seat on the Caddo Parish School Board.
Pastor Blake was given a firefighter's bugle so that he won’t let anyone forget how Shreveport police beat him in the Little Union Baptist Church and left him for dead on
Sept. 22, 1963. Blake had organized a prayer service for the four little girls that were killed in the Birmingham Church bombing.
The 50th anniversary celebration also included the “Finnish what we started parade” Saturday.
It was a chance to honor the hundreds of Booker T. Washington students who prayed and marched t to protest Dr. Blake's beating. Police disrupted the march back on
Sept. 23, 1963, and 18 of the students were thrown in jail.
On Thursday, local activists talked to current Booker T. Washington students about their struggle for equality. Together, they watched the documentary “Beyond Galilee,”
so the students could be briefed on their local untold history.
The celebration featured tons of prayer. On Wednesday, more than two thousand people came to the citywide prayer service at Galilee Baptist Church. The original Galilee church is where the fight
began in 1958, when Dr. Martin Luther King gave a speech similar to the “I Have a Dream Speech.”
Overall, Blake said this week is a dream come true.
It’s really exhilarating and exciting to see how the city and the nation has commemorated the last 50 years,” said Blake,
pastor of Mt. Canaan Baptist Church.