MLK Freedom March to take over Lexington streets on Monday


Terry Allen, organizer of the march, marches in front of the old Lexington courthouse during the Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative march on Monday, January 15, 2018. In October 2017, two confederate statues were removed from the old courthouse grounds after Lexington’s long debate about their location. Photo by Rick Childress | Staff

Emily Laytham

Next Monday, UK students will be out of class and marchers will be out on the streets to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Day, always observed on the third Monday of January, is celebrated in Lexington with a full day of festivities co-sponsored by UK and The Lexington Fayette-Urban County Government.

The MLK Day Freedom March will start outside Heritage Hall in downtown Lexington at 10 a.m., but the thousands of projected supporters will begin lining up an hour earlier in preparation, said Terry Allen, the march coordinator and UK’s Assistant Vice President for Institutional Equity.

At 11 a.m., actor and writer Daniel Beaty will deliver the keynote address at Heritage Hall. Beaty’s address will be accompanied by drama and poetry, including a musical performance by Zeb Harrison and the Sounds of Praise.

Following the performance, several community organizations will participate in a resource fair in front of Heritage Hall, and at 2:30 p.m., the Kentucky Theater will host a free screening of “Loving” starring Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton. 

The variety of activities reflects the diversity of reasons participants celebrate and march. Allen said this diversity makes the Freedom March unique.

“(The celebration) has a different meaning for each and every individual,” Allen said. “No two individuals that march are there for the same purpose. And that is different. That is tremendously different.”

The program will also have a diversity of organizations in attendance, including educational, religious and social groups.

Allen encouraged interested UK students to attend the march and “embrace the opportunity to self-reflect.”

“The focus has always been to come together to celebrate the principles and values of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.,” Allen said. “I’m referring to human dignity and mutual respect and equally valuing the contribution of each and every individual.”

The current forecasted high for Monday is 24 degrees. As such, Allen also encouraged attendees to “wrap up” when they come out to participate.