The LSUA Foundation hosted its annual Black History Luncheon, previously scheduled for February, on Wednesday, May 25. The event featured the inspirational words of the Honorable David Michael Williams, 9th Judicial District Court Judge. The event also honored Anais Callegari, recipient of this year’s Ebony Scholarship Award.
Sheila Hudson, Assistant Registrar at LSUA, welcomed guests and set the tone for the day by announcing the theme of “hope.” She thanked the audience for their support noting, “Your contributions provide hope and support to our young people who are striving for a brighter future.”
The recipient of this year’s Ebony Scholarship Award is rising sophomore Anais Callegari of Bunkie. Callegari is a psychology major maintaining a GPA above 3.75.
Connie Cooper, LSUA’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, introduced the keynote speaker for the celebration, the Honorable David Michael Williams. Before serving on the bench, Williams was the City Attorney for the City of Alexandria and maintained a private law practice. Williams continues to provide pro bono services as a public defender to the indigent of Natchitoches Parish.
Williams opened his speech on the importance of honoring Black history by enumerating a list of faults in his formative years. He noted the frequent trips to the principal’s office in elementary and high school and the mischief many people experience in college. Williams explained that in each case, he was scolded and counseled by black leaders in power who used their position to encourage him to do better. These were truly formative experiences for him.
Williams continued with a story about his grandfather tirelessly tilling the rocky soil at his home in preparation for planting peach trees. And like his grandfather who would not see the literal fruits of his labor but had to trust his descendants would taste it for themselves, Williams connected listeners to the great Black pioneers of law, Louis Berry and Jane Matilda Bolin, who became the first Black lawyer in Alexandria and the first black female judge in America, respectively. Of his own election to the bench, Williams proclaimed, “We all stand on the shoulders of those before us.”
In closing, Williams issued two “orders” from the bench (i.e. the podium). He implored listeners to find a young person in their lives in whom they can invest time, care, and guidance. Additionally, he commanded the crowd to love their neighbor. Williams noted that young people are used to adults popping into their lives; someone gives a speech, someone talks to their class, or someone shows up once at practice. “But,” Williams concluded, “they need people invested in their lives now, even if we do not get to see the fruits of our labor.”
LSUA is committed to celebrating Black excellence throughout the year and join with central Louisiana in committing to nurture and care for our young people striving toward their bright futures.
For more information about the LSUA Foundation, visit www.lsuafoundation.org.
Written by Adam Lord
Photo credit - Nathan Parish and Cameron Mosely