Leesville volunteers spent MLK Day beautifying local cemeteries

Published 6:35 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Volunteers with the Leesville City Wide Singing Convention honored Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday by cleaning and beautifying local cemeteries.

Ne’Andrea Hawkins, the organization’s secretary, said the group’s members chose to focus their efforts on cleaning in the Leesville Memorial Cemetery and the Garden of Memories Cemetery to ensure that local African American cemeteries are looked after and cared for.

“As an organization, we are responsible for the perpetual care and record keeping of these two cemeteries,” Hawkins said.

She said the cemeteries also allowed the organization to meet while continuing safe practices amid the pandemic.

“We wanted to ensure that our community volunteers could gather and participate in our activities while being at safe distances,” she said.

Observed each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service. Hawkins said the global COVID-19 pandemic and the events of the last two years have highlighted to the organization’s members that struggles of inequity continue to exist.

“The Commemoration of the MLK Day of Service is a call to act on his legacy of social justice and equity and recommit ourselves as citizens by volunteering in service to others. Through those efforts, we can strengthen ties to our communities and one another while we address critical issues that divide us,” Hawkins said.

Created in 1945, the Leesville City Wide Singing Convention is one of the oldest civic organizations in the Leesville area. Members represent local traditionally African American churches from the community and, prior to the pandemic, would gather each month that includes a fifth Sunday for an evening of songs and hymns. Those gatherings would not only promote fellowship, but Hawkins said also helped to raise the funds for the organization’s ongoing efforts to care for local African American cemeteries.