Individuals urged to work for peace

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Brenden Neville / The Advocate
Dancer Dorothy Nunez, 17, of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, performs Sunday at the opening of the ‘Century of Women’ exhibit during the Louisiana World Peace Day festivities at the State Capitol.

The sound of Japanese Taiko drums filled the State Capitol’s Senate Chamber as Sunday’s Louisiana World Peace Day festivities began.

One percussionist began drumming, followed by another, then another. Soon, all of the drummers were in sync as the sound of the Taiko drums became louder and louder.

Then, after a few minutes of drumming, the musicians stopped, clicked their sticks together three times and shouted, “Victory!” before beginning again.

The percussion performance kicked off two hours of music, dance, poetry and prayer Sunday for the second day of the 14th annual Louisiana World Peace Day celebration.

The festivities began Saturday, which was officially Louisiana World Peace Day, when people gathered on the Capitol’s steps for prayer.

The event was first held in 1998 when then-Gov. Mike Foster signed a resolution declaring Oct. 1 as World Peace Day.

“Each individual that works toward world peace will make a difference,” Louisiana World Peace Day Committee Co-Chairman Nancy Bourg said after the service. “I’m just so happy that people took time out of their busy schedule to come today.”

Choir performances were scattered throughout the day’s lineup of speeches and prayers, all of which included messages of peace and understanding.

“Hush my native land, don’t you cry — hush and listen to your lullaby,” a group called the HeartVoice Trio sang as they performed an original composition called “Louisiana Lullaby.”

Members of six religions — Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Baha’i — offered prayers and lit candles during an interfaith prayer ceremony.

“May the light of these candles inspire us to work toward peace,” the Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade said after the candles were lit.

Senate President Pro Tempore Sharon Weston Broome served as the keynote speaker, delivering an address about pursuing peace.

Broome spoke of bringing about world peace with people working within their “sphere of influence” to make changes in their communities.

“If you think you cannot make a difference in your world or your sphere of influence, you should revisit that thought,” Broome said. “In fact, don’t just revisit that thought, but dismiss that thought.”

Broome said her pursuit for world peace will begin with trying to end poverty in Louisiana.

“Poverty impacts the daily lives of individuals in our community,” Broome said. “Poverty impacts crime in our community.”

Broome also touted the importance of women’s ideas “in every aspect of our society.”

“I believe that we must use all of our thoughts and ideas to make an impact on many of the negative statistics that we hear not only in our state and in our nation, but in the world as well,” she said.

The Sunday ceremony served as an introduction for the “Century of Women” art exhibit at the Capitol, which is on display through Oct. 16.

Banners for the exhibit stood tall in the Capitol rotunda, highlighting the accomplishments of famous women, including Mother Teresa and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Art created by Louisiana students lined the rotunda walls. The pictures, paintings and drawings all portrayed some image of world peace.

After the program in the Senate Chamber, the audience gathered in the rotunda for dance performances from groups that included student dancers from the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and Native American performers from the Coushatta tribe.