Lafayette Council Honors Wilfred Pierre
A trailblazer for Lafayette's black community was honored Tuesday night by the Lafayette City Council. That trailblazer's influence is still felt today.
Wilfred Pierre received the city's Trailblazer Award during Tuesday night's council meeting.
“Tonight, I just want to thank him for his leadership in what he’s not only done for this state, but for the city of Lafayette," said Wilfred's nephew, State Representative Vincent Pierre.
“(I'm) (v)ery grateful," Wilfred Pierre said. "I keep saying that over and over again, but I’m appreciative.”
Wilfred Pierre was the Lafayette’s first black city councilman. He served in that role from 1976 to 1990. After that, he represented Lafayette’s Northside in the state house for 16 years.
"You have to appreciate the opportunity given to me by the people of Lafayette," Wilfred Pierre said. "I’ll always be grateful. I enjoyed serving. It’s a great gesture—a great feeling.”
Wilfred Pierre paved the way for other black men to serve in politics. Among them: His nephew, Vincent.
“He was always able to pave the way for the things that I had to face in the state capitol. Great things," Vincent Pierre said. "He was able to make contacts with people that allowed me to do the great things that we’re able to do in our city. As I kid, I always admired how he handled himself around people and in the public along with being a legislator and a leader, and that inspired me to do the things that we’re trying to do in this city.”
City councilman Pat Lewis grew up around the Pierre family. Lewis says Wilfred Pierre served not only as a role model, but as a father figure.
“He would always make sure I was doing the right thing," Lewis said. "He had a big impact on me. I remember one time he gave me an application to apply for a job when he was a city councilman. He also helped me get my first job on USL’s campus while I was a student at UL—USL at the time.”
Lewis also says Pierre’s work in city hall and at the state capitol had a positive impact on the Northside and the city as a whole.
“When he became the first elected Black city councilman, there was a big impact for the whole community," Lewis said. "Again, the underpass on University (Avenue) under the railroad track was very helpful for the people on the Northside trying to get to the hospitals—like the General Hospital, the Charity Hospital, Lourdes Hospital—or just going to USL. It was a big thing for the citizens of the Northside.”
Vincent Pierre says he hopes this award will spur the city’s current leaders to do right by their constituents.
“I thought this was a very fitting time," he said. "Wilfred has worked hard on the great things that have happened in this city. Hopefully we can move in that same direction. We can have a group of individuals that can work together across party lines that can get things done for this city.”
Wilfred Pierre says for that to happen, more people need to make their voices heard in the political process.
“I think people need to get more involved and participate a little bit more," he said. "I think that’s lacking. I don’t see involvement as much as I would have liked to see it.”
For Pat Lewis, he hopes he can make his mentor proud.
“He has a big shoe to fill, I’d just like to come close to it," Lewis said.