Photo by FREDDIE HERPIN, Photographer
— Corrected Version —
A plaque awarded to former St. Landry Parish District Attorney Charles Cravins rested near the base of a Confederate monument on the Courthouse Square Sunday night, shortly after the conclusion of an annual Black History program.
Cravins who along with Vanessa Harris, Alonzo Harris and Chasity Davis, was recognized with plaque presentations during the 11th annual event held at the Delta Grand, questioned during his acceptance speech why the monument has continued to remain at one entrance to the Courthouse and called for it to be removed.
Collis Temple, the first black scholarship athlete to play at LSU, was the guest speaker.
The annual ceremony held during the conclusion of Black History month, has been sponsored by Parish Council member Jerry Red, Jr. and St. Landry Parish government.
Prior to the start of the event, Cravins said he walked to the northeast corner of the Courthouse grounds and read an inscription on the monument which commemorates as heroes, the soldiers who fought for the Confederacy.
Cravins, who ran unsuccessfully for District Attorney in 2020, added that he can’t understand why Opelousas’ elected city officials have allowed without discussion, to allow the monument to remain on public property.
Harris, a 1981 graduate of Washington High, was elected in 2008 as the first African American and woman city judge in Opelousas.
Last year Harris was appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court as pro tempore Lafayette city judge.
During her acceptance speech, Harris and her brother, Alonzo Harris, credited her parents Aaron and Rosa Harris, for teaching her and her siblings and brother Alonzo about the importance of education and hard work.
When he was first elected in 1993, Alonzo Harris was the youngest state district judge statewide.
Harris, who also graduated from Washington High, described additionally how their parents, “paved the way for us and told us that if you work hard and make the sacrifices then the sky will be the limit for you,” Alonzo Harris said.
Some of his courthouse colleagues Harris said, made it difficult for him at first to assist him with potential legal questions, especially when it came to presiding over capital cases that were being tried in District C, said Alonzo Harris.
“When I had a question or a difficult case, I couldn’t depend on the local judges to call for advice,” said Harris.
Legal questions that he had Harris said, were answered by judges from other judicial districts statewide.
Since his retirement, Harris said that he has occasionally been summoned to act as an ad hoc judge. In two weeks Harris said he will serve as an ad hoc judge in an Evangeline Parish case.
Cravins graduated from Lawtell High in 1973 and in 1997 he was appointed by District Attorney Earl Taylor as the Chief Administrative Officer for the DA’s Office.
Later Cravins became the parish’s first black District Attorney when Taylor announced his resignation.
While he was CAO, Cravins attended and graduated with honors from Southern University Law School and later became an assistant DA.
As a prosecutor, Cravins was placed in charge of cases presented before the St. Landry Parish grand jury and in 2015 he served as a transition team member for Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Davis, serving a first term as a member of the Opelousas Board of Aldermen received the Trailblazer Award.
In addition to representing the city’s District E, Davis after receiving a degree in child care, has operated a successful day care center.
Also Davis has purchased property inside the district she represents to create buildings that provide places where children can do homework and receive extra educational assistance.