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Bismarck MLK event to honor King’s legacy; Bismarck soccer coach to detail story

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Ricardo Pierre-Louis, technical director for the Magic Soccer Academy in Bismarck and a coach for the 11-years-and-under boys team, will be one of the speakers at this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day event Monday in Bismarck. 

Ricardo Pierre-Louis has gone from playing soccer for food in Haiti to making a difference in other people's lives in Bismarck.

He'll discuss his personal journey and how it continues Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy at a celebration honoring the civil rights leader on Monday.

The Martin Luther King Holiday Commission is hosting the event at Trinity Lutheran Church in Bismarck at 7 p.m. State Rep. Ruth Buffalo, D-Fargo, also will speak. The celebration will feature a choir composed of African refugees and an art display of works by local elementary school students expressing what King means to them. The event will be catered by African Nomad Catering.

Pierre-Louis’ story begins in Leogane, Haiti, where hunger was common and education was not guaranteed. He said like other Haitians, his future was left to chances. At 5 years old, he passed a test that allowed him to attend a good school, something only a small fraction of the city’s 90,000 people could attain.

When he started playing soccer for food, it was a mix of hard work and luck that brought him to the United States on a scholarship. He eventually began a professional soccer career with the Columbus Crew.

“Sometimes people look at someone of a different country and they judge them for being from somewhere else and they don't judge them by their character,” Pierre-Louis said. “Sometimes people look at an immigrant coming here as someone who is going to take someone else's job. But they don't look at our resiliency, where we come from, the things we have dealt with and all the things we could do in America."

Coming from parents who can't read or write, Pierre-Louis said his dream was to be educated and to provide the same opportunity for his children. He achieved his dream by getting a master's degree in business education from the University of Mary, becoming a teacher and coaching youth soccer. He hopes his story can make a positive legacy similar to King’s.

“What Dr. King has done still makes an impact today. I feel like my story can impact other people where they can look at their own story and can go out and make a difference in other people's lives, which can change the community and can change the world,” he said.

The Martin Luther King Holiday Commission was formed by then-Gov. George Sinner following the Legislature's adoption of the holiday in 1985. The commission is run by volunteer directors.

Monday's event is free. There will be a freewill offering to help sustain the commission. Masks are recommended but not required. For more information contact Commission Board President Bill Patrie at 701-391-3799 or billpatrie7@gmail.com.

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