Civil Rights educational, commemorative program Aug. 23, 25

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South
Calvin Johnson

PLAQUEMINE – As we commemorate the events of 1963, Plymouth Rock Baptist Church is hosting an educational forum on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 at 7 p.m. with the showing of the Louisiana Diary, which includes the Plaquemine story. 

The film is a master copy loaned by Joseph Basile of WNET and Alex Cherian of San Francisco Bay Area Film Archives. It has been enhanced for our viewing.

Persons on the panel are Ronnie Moore, Dr. Lance Hill, Torris Armstead, Kathe Hambrick-Jackson and will be moderated by retired Judge Calvin Johnson. 

A short march and visit to the old site will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 25 followed by a program featuring Spiver W. Gordon.

Spiver Gordon, is a native of Plaquemine and now resides in Eutaw, Alabama with his wife and family. He was incarcerated in Plaquemine in 1963 and spent time in the Port Allen Jail. Gordan was a field secretary for the Congress of racial equality and has been actively involved in voter registration registering the first blacks in St. Francisville and Bristol, Fla.

Gordon has been involved in every major march for civil rights in the US, including the 1963 March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery march. Since, 1968 he has led the movement for SCLC in Eutaw.

Ronnie Moore is the current program director of Cornerstone Builders, a civic justice initiative of Catholic Charities providing an array of services to formerly incarcerated persons and their families. A civil rights veteran, Moore became involved in the movement in 1961.  He stated, “The Civil Rights movement wasn't something you joined, it was something you got drafted and persuaded.” 

While a student at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Moore led a group of 2,500 students to the state capitol to protest the city's hiring policies and segregated lunch counters. Moore was arrested, jailed, and expelled from Southern University for his involvement in the demonstration.

Calvin Johnson was elected to the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court in 1990. While at the Criminal District Court he served as a Drug Court Judge from 1994 - 2002. In 2002, he established the first Mental Health Treatment Court in the State of Louisiana. 

In 2004, Johnson became the first African American Chief Judge of that court. In 2005, when Katrina struck, he was the Chief Judge of the Court and by November of 2006 the Court was back in full operation.

Dr. Lance Hill is the Executive Director of the Southern Institute for Education and Research, a tolerance education and race relations research center based at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Hill holds a Ph.D. in history from Tulane University, where he has taught US History and Intercultural Communication. His scholarly research field is the history of race relations, the radical right and ethnic group trauma. He is the author of The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and The Civil Rights Movement (University of North Carolina Press, 2004).

Torris Armstead, a local civil rights activist and a native of Plaquemine, participated in the 1963 movement. 

In 1978, he was sworn in as the first African American Selectmen (city council, District II) in the City of Plaquemine. Armstead served in this position for over 15 years and diligently worked to enhance the overall quality of life on the local, regional and state level.

Kathe Hambrick-Jackson is the Founder and Executive Director of the River Road African American Museum in Donaldsonville. She is the past president of the national Association of African American Museums.