Lexington holds 50th MLK Day observance

Lexington holds 50th MLK Day observance
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 11:35 AM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Monday marks the 50th anniversary of Lexington’s celebration of Martin Luther King jr.’s legacy. The tradition has changed hands over the years but has always been a pointed tribute to a civil rights icon.

The event began 50 years ago. It was the brainchild of two men at the University of Kentucky, Jerry Stevens and Edgar Mack.

Five decades after its inception, the Lexington MLK Day observance is one of the longest-running celebrations in the country, bringing thousands of people across the state together to honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

One Lexington asked participants to wear orange to show solidarity for victims of gun violence.

By day, John Moore is a teacher, but for the last decade, he’s been the voice that leads Lexington’s annual Martin Luther King jr. march—lifting the crowd up in song and spirit.

“I think that we can also take for granted the fact that Martin Luther King was a major person in American history, but we can’t forget his significance to pass that on to younger generations,” said Moore.

As thousands paraded from Central Bank Center downtown, the lyrics and tunes changed, but the message remained the same.

“My city cares enough to do this is so meaningful to African Americans in particular and the community at large,” said event participant Jennifer Jones. “This is a wonderful thing to see and participate in.”

Event participants like Jones, who helped organize the African American Sports Hall of Fame, say these important conversations must continue, even after the footsteps stop.

“I grew up in an era where African American history wasn’t really taught in the schools,” said Jones. “As a retired educator, I always made the effort to make sure my kids were very much aware of the contributions and history, not just in the country but Lexington as well.

This year’s guest speaker is Dr. David Hall, president of the University of Virgin Islands.

The internationally renowned youth choral ensemble Uniting Voices Chicago was the featured artists at the commemorative program.