SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Asriel McLain recalls the segregated times in Shreveport, Louisiana.
“It was horrible. Of course at the State Fair they had ‘negro day’ and if you missed it, that was it. I recall missing the fair or circus in Shreveport on ‘black day’ and I kind of cried because I couldn’t go because I was black,” says Asriel McLain, a local Civil Rights Historian.
The hatred prompted Dr. King to visit, and inspire change.
“The Civil Rights movement started right here at Galilee Baptist Church. Dr. Martin Luther king, in 1958, did one of his first speeches ‘The Speech of Galilee’. It was one of the first recorded audio speeches that he had done,” says Bonnie Moore, the Director of Community Development for the city of Shreveport.
History was made that day, but unfortunately was not preserved,
“The property was vacated in 1975, almost 43 years ago. Although the city didn’t acquire it until 1993, it was still vacant and abandoned and certainly incurred a lot of deterioration during that period,” says Moore.
Fast forward to today, the City of Shreveport has raised over two million dollars to turn the historic church, into a Civil Rights Museum.
“The Northwest Louisiana Civil Rights Coalition approached Mayor Glover about eight years ago to restore the building. They wanted to preserve the historic significance of this building and what it meant to this community,” says Moore.
It will take three to five million dollars for the entire project to be complete.
“We plan to apply for historic tax credits, capital outlay dollars, and other funding, to ensure we have sufficient funds to make this a viable structure for our community,” says Moore.
“The story will continue. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it,” says McLain.
Right now they are looking for contractors to actually stabilize this building.
That ball will get rolling once that bidding process is complete.