NATCHITOCHES- When Barry LaCaze bid a whopping $1,000 for a Spike Lee book at the Boys & Girls Clubs of El Camino Reál’s 16th Annual Steak & Burger Dinner, he didn’t flinch or show hesitation.
“I just really wanted the book and knew it was for a good cause,” said LaCaze, 28, a sound technician at a local church. “It’s worth it.”
More than 900 people gathered at the Natchi- toches Event Center for the local club’s fundraiser. In a pleasant twist, club members were served steak and baked potatoes while adult supporters ate hamburgers and potato chips. Natchitoches singer DeShawn Washington, who also competed on the hit television show “The Voice,” provided entertainment.
Spike Lee addressed the crowd after hearing sta- tistics such about how most of this club’s members read below grade level and qualify for free or reduced lunch. He called the statis- tics “very sobering.”
“The gap between the haves and the have nots is wider than it’s ever been, and unfortunately Louisiana is at the top of that,” he said.
He urged parents to step up to the plate and be more active in their children’s lives.
“We have to go over their homework,” Lee said. “We have to take the time to be grown ups. Children are children. They don’t know what to do.”
He also told parents to be more supportive of their children’s dreams, some- thing he said was a struggle for some.
“Parents kill more dreams than anybody,” said Lee, who added that many young adults suc- cumb to vicious parental pressure and choose safe majors in school and ultimately careers instead of their dream ones.
“I say my prayers night because I’m blessed and love what I do,” he said.
He talked about how he’s able to get up every morning without an alarm clock because he’s going to do work that he loves. Lee said that too many young black men want to be rappers or play sports.
“We have enough of that. We need more scien- tists,” he added.
Lee stressed the importance of education. A professor at NYU, his mother and grandmother were also college-educated teachers. Lee attend Morehouse College and NYU.
“Our ancestors knew that education would lead us out of bondage,” he said.
Nationally the BCBA serve almost four million youth annually in almost 4,000 club facilities, ac- cording to their website. Their mission is “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, respon- sible citizens.”
All of the proceeds raised from the dinner go back into the local club.
By Anastasia Semien