Today, September 9, the French Academic Palms (l’Ordre des Palmes académiques) will promote singer-songwriter and activist Zachary Richard to the rank of Officer within the organization. During a ceremony at 1 p.m., Vincent Sciama, the Consul General of France in LA, will grant Richard this prestigious honor.
With a distinct mixture of Cajun and Zydeco influences, Richard has released 20 albums to great success. The latest, 2018’s Gombo, explored notions of heritage and universal emotion. In 1996, Richard founded the non-profit organization Action Cadienne, promoting the continued preservation of Acadian culture and French language within LA. A year later, in 1997, Richard became an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres of the Republic of France, and the government of Québec initiated Richard into the Ordre des Francophones d’Amérique. Recently, with his advancement to the rank of Officer in the French Academic Palms, Richard has announced a new campaign to raise funding and materials for various French immersion programs throughout LA.
The French Academic Palms organization, created in 1808 by Napoleon I to recognize members of the University, is the oldest non-military French decoration. In 1866, Napoleon III the stipulations for the award were broadened to include non-teaching persons who served French education. Président René Coty, in 1955, further ingrained the institution by situating the Academic Palms as the first ministerial order recognized by the French Republic.
Richard’s campaign will work with CODOFIL, Action Cadienne, the Louisiana Consortium of Immersion Schools and Louisiane-Acadie. Crowdfunding will begin today, Sept. 9, and will end at Festivals Acadiens et Créoles in Oct. 2019.
The ceremony for Richard is being held at Myrtle Place Elementary School (1100 Myrtle Place) in Lafayette, LA.