NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) – After recent shootings in New Iberia, two local community leaders sat down to dissect the problem of gun violence plaguing the communities across Acadiana. 

One of the leaders, Elaine Campbell, founder of The Ebony Journal and retired educator, said, “the violence that these kids are doing now is so upsetting and sad for me because that’s what we were trying to put behind us.” Campbell cares for the New Iberia community. In 1985 she started The Ebony Journal, a Black-owned newspaper in Iberia Parish. She published in newspapers for 20 years.

“When we were those kids’ age, we felt that we were loved. We were hugged; we were cared for. they don’t feel that,” said Campbell. “I feel that something is missing because the kids today still feel that they’re out of touch with reality.” 

Another leader, Donavon D. Davis, a community activist and evangelist, adds, “we do not know or understand how to resolve differences with one another through utilizing the art of diplomacy to save off a lot of foolishness that can come between us.” Davis does many things in the community. He is a proud member of the Iberia African Historical Society. The purpose is to research and retrace forgotten local Black History in Iberia Parish. 

In addition, he thinks it’s essential for the younger generation to remember their history. “There’s a widening gap between our elders’ statesmen and us as young people…” said Davis. “Elders like Elaine who helped taught us so that we could carry out the legacies and assignments and everything that they have given us that we can be law-abiding citizens and responsible people.” 

Although dealing with gun violence is a constant battle in the community, each leader says something needs to be done to stop it. “We got to solve this, and the other way we’re going to solve it, we have to be together, and we have to get together,” said Campbell. “They have to understand us, and we have to understand them.” 

In 1985 Elaine Campbell taught English at New Iberia Senior High. She says as a teacher, she always tried to inspire the youth to do right. “I wanted the kids to know that there’s a life outside of New Iberia, but we are in New Iberia now, and what will we do?” she asked. “We’re going to obey the law because if you don’t, they’re going to arrest you and put you in jail and why do you want to go there?” she said. “It’s not that it isn’t the place where you’re supposed to be, but it’s what you can learn there that’s worse than what you can learn out here.” 

Campbell says she can only hope that the next generation continues the work to make society a better place as she has done in her life. “I’m 89. I’m almost 90, so I’m ready to leave and let the younger people coming take over and push it further; we’ve taken it as far as we could,” she said.