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BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Honoring Central Louisiana changemakers

Black History Month
Black History Month(Gray Television)
Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 10:52 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2021 at 9:36 AM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - This Black History Month, Your Local Station is shining a spotlight on African-American glass ceiling breakers in our community.

FEB. 24: BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Chief Darren Coutee

Chief Coutee is the first African-American Police Chief for the City of Alexandria. He became chief in 2004 and served for 6 years before retiring with nearly 40-years of law enforcement experience. In 2010, the City of Alexandria and the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office declared February 24th, Darren Coutee Day.

FEB 23: Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr.

Mayor Williams was inaugurated as the first African-American mayor of Natchitoches in 20-20. He is the senior pastor of Rockford Baptist Church and worked as an educator. He is a graduate of Northwestern State University.

FEB 22: John Christophe

John Christophe was the first African-American to served on the police jury. He’s also the first African-American to become president of the police jury. He served on the jury for 19 years. Before that, he was a leader in local education. He was among the first African-Americans to become a principal of an elementary school. He worked in education for more than 30 years.

FEB 21: Mayor Jeff Hall

Alexandria Mayor Jeff Hall is the first African-American mayor for the city of Alexandria. He won the mayoral election in 2018. Hall worked for Cleco and served in the state legislature before becoming mayor. He’s a graduate of Grambling State University.

FEB 20th: Johnie Varnado

Johnie Varnado was the first African-American president of the Chamber of Commerce. She was the owner of Kazatte Enterprises, a computer repair company that later turned into a business consulting service. She passed in 2019.

FEB 19th: Mayor Clarence Fields

Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields is the first African-American mayor of the city. He was appointed to position in 1999 and officially won a race for the job in 2000. Mayor Fields was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in 2020.

FEB 18th: Daisy E. Franklin

Franklin was among the first African-American kindergarten teachers in Rapides Parish. She retired in 1998 after more than 30 years.

FEB 17th: Lt. Col. Peter Oliver

Lieutenant Col. Peter Oliver of Avoyelles parish started his career in 19-91 with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. He was the only African-American in his class of 26. Oliver was the first black sergeant, captain, major before becoming the first black lieutenant. He retired in 2019.

If you would like to recognize someone, email Javonti Thomas at jthomas@kalb.com

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