Thousands volunteer by picking up trash, painting murals for MLK Walls Project

Volunteers work to beautify area of north Baton Rouge as park of MLK Day Walls Project

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The sixth annual MLK Fest with the Walls Project was a true success, with over 2,500 volunteers out Monday picking up trash, debris, and painting an old building, all in an effort to revitalize parts of north Baton Rouge.

Southern University’s entire baseball team started their day at 8:30 a.m. picking up trash in various neighborhoods.

“It’s just something we do every MLK Day. We help with the city’s beautification. It’s really giving back to the community and helping the whole community and helping the whole city just look a little bit better,” said Southern senior, Markaylon Boyd.

At St. Vincent de Paul, a mural is halfway finished. It’s entitled “Love Thy Neighbor” and is part of a series called “9 Drivers of Poverty.”

This mural is being painted on the side of the St. Vincent de Paul building. It’s called “Love Thy Neighbor” and it's part of a series called “9 Drivers of Poverty.”
This mural is being painted on the side of the St. Vincent de Paul building. It’s called “Love Thy Neighbor” and it's part of a series called “9 Drivers of Poverty.” (Source: WAFB)

“We are looking at nine reasons or barriers why it is difficult to rise out of poverty, especially in Baton Rouge and ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ is about concentrated areas of poverty,” MLK Fest coordinator Helena Williams said.

Williams is referring to the Plank Road area specifically. Williams said in their painting, the volunteers are celebrating Dr. King.

“It’s really just about unifying the area so that these buildings can either be put back into the economy so they can be used for future businesses or for example, at St. Vincent, bring a little pride in what they are doing,” Williams said.

Then there’s the kids’ zone, where knowing how to paint isn’t a requirement. The only requirement is a desire to paint. One thing that’s obvious in the kids’ zone is how black, brown, and white all come together.

“My teammates, we are all from different backgrounds and that’s kind of what MLK wanted us to be. He wanted us to be with each other even if we are different colors, different skin, different backgrounds, different religions, and we are all just that by coming here,” said Southern University student, Naomi Cooper.

The kids’ zone was open not only to all races but to all ages as well.

“This is a drawing I drew,” volunteer Coen Richard, 10, said. “It has a lot of eyes and it sees everything.”

Caleb Futrell is 4 years old and his dad, Quincy Futrell, brought him to the Walls Project to teach his an important lesson.

Volunteers spent their MLK Day painting an older building to bring it to life.
Volunteers spent their MLK Day painting an older building to bring it to life. (Source: WAFB)

"What I want my son to learn is that serving others is one of the greatest things that he can always do in his life," said Futrell.

All their painting will not go to waste. Instead, every piece of plywood will be used.

“It’s going to go around the neighborhood and go to abandoned buildings or houses. We are going to use it to board up any broken windows, to give houses some color, and make it a little safer for them,” said MLK Fest volunteer, Ann Riche.

In the end, the purpose of the project is to unite the community while living out Dr. King’s dream.

“That was his dream that we would come together and recognize that in one another and that we would make sure we’re fighting for one another and never let hatred take root in our heart, even though he said it was too big of a burden to bear and so he just made the decision, conscious decision, to love people and that’s a great message today,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.

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Annual Walls Project helping to improve areas in north Baton Rouge for MLK Day

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