The city will once again honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this year, the 50th year Lexington has hosted a march and a Commemorative Program.
Scheduled events on Jan. 16 include the annual Freedom March, starting at 1 p.m., and the Commemorative Program, starting at 2 p.m., at Central Bank Center, 430 West Vine St. There is also a Unity Breakfast beginning at 6:30 a.m. at Central Bank Center.
“We continue to work to bring Dr. King’s vision of peace and equality to our city,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “I am so thankful to everyone who organizes the program to honor Dr. King, and to the community members who come out and participate every year.”
Beginning in 1973, five years after the assassination of Dr. King, the annual event in Lexington has brought together thousands to commemorate his life, and to learn about the challenge of his legacy. The program is one of the longest-running events in the nation. It started as a candle-lit march through the University of Kentucky campus, followed by a small program at Memorial Hall. It has since grown to city-wide community event, involving thousands of people.
“We are looking forward to our 50th Anniversary March & Commemorative Program with great anticipation,” said Chester Grundy, co-chair of the events along with Urban County Councilmember-at-Large James Brown. Grundy has served as program coordinator and co-chair since 1974, after being hired in the University of Kentucky’s Office of Minority Student Affairs. “Our annual MLK Holiday program has earned the praise of media commentators and several of our speakers for being “one of the best in the country for its consistent record of presenting thoughtful, timely and creatively uplifting programs”. The programming for this 50-year milestone of Lexington’s MLK Holiday promises to live up to this stellar reputation in every way!”
The Freedom March brings the community together to walk along Vine and Main streets in solidarity with the civil rights work of Dr. King.
The theme of this year’s Commemorative Program is “MLK Holiday 50th Anniversary: A Half Century of Lighting Candles of Hope Against the Threat of Darkness.”
This year’s keynote speaker will be David Hall, President of the University of the Virgin Islands, known for his work on legal aspects of social justice and race. The Uniting Voices Chicago will perform.
The celebration schedule includes:
- 6:30 – 9 a.m.: Unity Breakfast, a ticketed event hosted by the Alpha Beta Lambda chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Central Bank Center, Exhibit Hall A
- 1 p.m.: Freedom March, beginning and ending at Central Bank Center lobby
- 2 p.m.: Commemorative Program. Central Bank Center, Exhibit Hall A
The march and program are free and open to the public and made possible through the partnership of the University of Kentucky, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Spectrum, Blue Grass Community Foundation, Cornett, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, and Smiley Pete Publishing.