LEXINGTON, Ky. — For years, people in Lexington and beyond have gathered to honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year, the city highlighted half a century of the tradition. 

What You Need To Know

  • Lexington came together this year for the 50th anniversary of the program and event’s inception

  • Gov. Andy Beshear, Lexington mayor Linda Gorton and other officials led the community in a march through downtown

  • Many individuals attended for the first time
  • The freedom march in Lexington and beyond first started in Dr. King’s honor 5 years after his assassination

The city’s annual freedom march invited families to teach young people about the history and more that took place here and in other cities around the nation.

Marcus Pierce and his granddaughter Addison Black marched for the first time.

Kentucky leaders, including Gov. Andy Beshear and Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton, hold the commemorative sign for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. march. (Spectrum News 1/Sabriel Metcalf)

“This is a tradition that needs to be passed down to every other tradition throughout our culture, to show us how important the things that happened to get us to where we are now,” Pierce said. “I always wanted to come, but my work schedule kind of conflicted with it. But now that we can get it off, I can come to show my support.”

Marching from the Central Bank Center downtown and around city buildings, the crowd happily celebrated 50 years of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.‘s mission that affects lives to this day. 

“While we’re celebrating Dr. King and his teachings and his life and his legacy, I think it inspires us as a community to do more and be more,” Council member-at-large James Brown said. 

First starting on the University of Kentucky’s campus in 1973, the event now includes families, leaders and change makers walking, singing, chanting and standing together in a way that reminds people of the challenges faced during the civil rights movement.

The event ended with a commemorative program featuring special guests like Kentucky native Frank X Walker, Kentucky’s first black Poet Laureate. He earned the title in 2013 from the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights