Lake Providence, Louisiana Finds New Hope from a ‘Good Samaritan’

Professional artists from Colorado begin painting scenes in a mural that's giving renewed confidence to Lake Providence, La.
Professional artists from Colorado begin painting scenes in a mural that’s giving renewed confidence to Lake Providence, La.

Like Israel’s king David who slew the Philistine giant Goliath with a sling and a stone, spiritual and civic forces in Lake Providence, Louisiana, are counting on words as weapons in the city’s battle with foes who’ve hurled verbal abuse for too long and too many times.

The words love, hope, believe, respect and others are uniquely uniting black and white citizens of the northeast Louisiana city against outsiders who’ve labeled their community the poorest and most unequal place in the United States with a national news magazine article and a cable television network documentary.

Lake Providence and its allies are fighting back with a medium of their own: A larger-than-life crossword puzzle and professionally painted scenes and symbols of life in the picturesque southern city surrounding a six-mile oxbow lake in East Carroll Parish.

Not only are the words rallying cries for blacks and whites who are upper-, middle- and lower-income wage earners, but there are signs that the destiny of Lake Providence is brighter than the bad press its citizens have battled since 1994 when Time magazine infamously called the city America’s poorest.

One of Lake Providence’s allies is a Colorado businessman and church deacon whose army of missions-minded youth took a pre-emptive strike against the power of negative words in July 2013 when it completed the first phase of a giant mural consisting of 13 words in large block letters.

Four months later, a CNN report called East Carroll Parish America’s most unequal county, disappointing some Lake Providence citizens who say that the documentary ignored the city’s black and white middle-class families working in governments, schools, and healthcare.

The words vision, change, worth, respect, courage, forgive, unity, serve and impact form a giant word mural on a 90- by 20-foot wall. The large letters and words are inescapable to anybody walking or driving through downtown Lake Providence.

In between the words, professional artists began painting scenes from around the city, integrating them with the name Lake Providence in April 2014.

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Source: | Steve Rees/Assist News

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