Celebrations around Kentucky honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Published: Jan. 15, 2018 at 6:19 AM EST
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Celebrations took place in Lexington on Monday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The events began Monday morning with the annual Unity Breakfast at Heritage Hall. The event was hosted by the Education Foundation of the Alpha Beta Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha. This year's theme was UNITY: Peace through Non-Violence.

Following the breakfast, the Freedom March took place down Main Street. Hundreds of people took part in the tribute to Dr. King.

"He gave us freedom and I think we should celebrate him for that," said marcher Kya Rodriguez.

"He made us get no segregation and we’re all free today and we’re not separated," said Adora Doodnauth.

"This day has always been important to me but especially with the political animosity," said another marcher.

Many marchers WKYT talked to also said the march took on special meaning this year because, when they went past Cheapside Park, there were no Confederate statues to pass. Mayor Jim Gray had the statues of John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckinridge removed last fall. The city is working with Lexington Cemetery to have the statues moved there.

Shortly after the march, a commemorative holiday program was screened at Heritage Hall. American anti-racism activist and writer, Tim Wise, presented "Dr. King's Vision in An Age of Betrayal."

Dozens more people braved the cold to honor Dr. King in Somerset. The group marched half a mile from First Church of God to High Street Baptist. Organizers say it was a bigger crowd than usual and that Dr. King's message is still relevant in today's time and culture.

“We need to look forward and change things. We need to learn to love one another and work together. We all have a common goal and that is to do better," said Paula Stigall.

James Coffey, who participated in Somerset's march said it reminds him of a time when he marched in Massachusetts 50 years ago.

“I had to do a civil rights movement march up there, 1968, This means something to me. I don't have to go against my own people," said Coffey.

Back in Lexington, between the hours of 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. families participated in the Carnegie Center of Literacy and Learning's community celebration. It included lunch and an inspirational speech, along with various activities including poetry by local artists and writers will be held.

The films "Hidden Figures" and "The Meeting" were screened in Lexington as part of the celebration as well.