The Finding Our Roots African American Museum in Houma celebrated its second Juneteenth Celebration by feting Terrebonne Parish’s first United States Marshal, Kerry Poole, as one of its museum inductees.
Poole, who was not present for the event, said he wished to thank his parents, Samuel Poole and Pacheana Hartman-Poole, for being wonderful parents, “giants whose shoulders of strength have allowed him to reach such a goal.”
“My birth certificate states the place where I was born was Ashland Plantation, Ashland La., in 1951. I’ve been living in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1978, to this present day,” he said. “I was supposed to be delivered by a mid-wife, but by the time they got back with her, I had already been born via a natural birth. I am just so humbled by this terrific honor, “ he said.
Poole attended St. Lucy Elementary School from 1956-1963 and later finished high school at Southdown High (1964-1968).
While attending Southdown, he became junior and senior class president. He helped organize the first inter-parish school council throughout the school district.
He received a four-year scholarship to Dillard University of New Orleans, but in his freshman year, switched to Bellevue Community College and later, Central Washington University.
In 1973, he tried out with the Denver Rockets (presently the Denver Nuggets).
From 1973-1975 he worked for the King Country Sheriff Dept, in Seattle Washington.
In 1978, he was recruited by the U.S. Department of Justice, United States Marshal Service. In 1981 he became witness security inspector; he later became inactive, on workman’s compensation due to a knee injury sustained in the line of duty.
“I thank God I attended Southdown High School. I owe a lot of my success to the foundation that those teachers and my early experiences created there,” Poole said.
Former Terrebonne Parish Housing Authority Director Wayne Thibodaux, also a former long-time Terrebonne Parish Councilman, was the guest speaker.
“This is an important day, but it is a celebration on any day we decide it will be, because
historically, we have been burdened with some really bad stuff,” Thibodaux said. “And it is unfortunate that this day has not ever been recognized as a national holiday in this country.”
Thibodaux said Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. He said dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free; yet, this was two and a half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official on January 1, 1863, freeing all slaves.
“We have to continue the commitment to this holiday, to support this museum and its programs, in our heads and in our pockets. We need to make sure this effort is continued, long past you and I.”
Margie Scoby, the museum’s president, began her presentation with the song, “Black Butterfly,” saying, “its words represent us.”
“Black Butterfly, sailed across the waters, tell your sons and daughters, what the struggle brings-- this is us. This is who we are. And 200 plus years later, here we are standing and remembering our freedom.”
The Finding our Roots African American Museum is the tri-parish’s home to African American History, housed in “The Fifth District Academy”, the 128 year old site of the first high school for African Americans in Terrebonne Parish, located at 918 Roussell Street.
Thibodaux encouraged all to “Stay woke” to the many causes related to African American progression, noting that The Terrebonne Parish Branch of the National Association of Colored People will hold its 37th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet, on Friday, June 21 at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center at 7 p.m.
“This a scholarship fund banquet. We need your support. Join us as we award scholarships to 32 graduating seniors from Terrebonne Parish.”
Tickets are available for $75 and can be purchased at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center by calling 985-772-5279. Guest speaker will be Actor/Rapper Romeo Miller.
Also, The Concerned Clergy and Community Leaders of Terrebonne Parish are holding a “Keeping Dr. King’s Dream Alive” voter registration event, Saturday, June 22 at the New Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church, located at 146 Banks Street in Houma.
Rev. Derek King and Mr. Issac Farris Jr, the nephews of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will also be in attendance. •