Reginald Tate accepts the 2023 Davis/Williams Award from Iberville Ministers Conference president Rev. Clyde McNell. Tate received the award during a service to commemorate the 94th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A Plaquemine native who turned his life around after he spent much of his adulthood behind bars was recognized last week for the ministry that he formed to help lead young people in the right direction.

Reginald Tate received the 2023 Davis/Williams Award during the annual Martin Luther King Day celebration at the Iberville Ministers Conference held at Greater Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church.

Davis/Williams Award is named in honor of Rev. Jetson William Davis and Professor Wendell Orville Williams who served their community and were leaders in religion, education and civil rights.

Tate, who turns 54 this year, was honored for his outreach programs geared toward former inmates back in the right direction and helping younger people avoid a path that ends in incarceration.

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “But to be honest, I had been out on the street so long that I didn’t know about this award.”

The award is a long way from his adolescent years when drug abuse led to many criminal issues related to a life of using and selling drugs – all before he finished high school.

“It led into a culture and got to a point that I accepted whatever the life gave me,” Tate told Post/South in a 2022 interview. “I lived in it and expected to die in it …fortunately, God stepped in and changed things up.”

He has since devoted his life to ministry work in San Antonio, which he credits for keeping him strong.

Tate said he worries about the situation in Plaquemine. The proliferation of illegal drugs within neighborhoods, along with proximity to Baton Rouge and New Orleans, have made it easy for addicts to keep their habit going.

He plans to host a “Peer to Peer,” forum in which young people can reach out to adults for advice and help to stay on the right path.

The event is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 22.

He hopes it will lead the younger community away from the life of drugs and violence that nearly destroyed his life.

“I’m in San Antonio, so I’m not aware of everyone who has lost a child,” Tate said “For some of these people, it’s been 25 or 30 years, but that hurt doesn’t go away. “We needed this year-round. I’m not bringing these people around because I pity them – I’m bringing them around because of their strength,” he said. “I’m hoping to make this a weekly or monthly meeting of empowerment.”

Also at the service, Rev. Lionel Johnson Jr., who serves as St. Gabriel Mayor, delivered the keynote address.

In addition, Plaquemine Selectman Natasha Smith Johnson distributed voter registration forms after the service.

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