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The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights along with the other members of the Allied Organizations for Civil Rights announces the upcoming 50th Anniversary Civil Rights March on Frankfort.
The commemorative march and accompanying rally will be from 10:00 a.m. through approximately noon on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Gather at the corner of Second Street and Capital Avenue at 9:30 a.m. to line up in order to proceed to the State Capitol at 700 Capitol Ave.
The public is invited to participate to celebrate Kentucky’s historic role in helping to end segregation by becoming the first state south of the Mason-Dixon Line to have a state Civil Rights Act.
The historic March 5, 1964, Civil Rights March on Frankfort included more than 10,000 people who walked to the capitol to urge a law that would help end segregation by making discrimination illegal in the area of public accommodations such as stores, restaurants, theatres and hotels.
A host of Kentucky civil rights leaders, citizens of all races and celebrities participated including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy and baseball great Jackie Robinson who traveled to Kentucky to help lead the marchers to the capitol and speak to the crowd from the steps.
The folk group Peter, Paul and Mary led songs about freedom. Gov. Edward (Ned) Breathitt met with Frank Stanley Jr., owner of the Louisville Defender newspaper and a key organizer of the event, other state civil rights leaders, and King and Robinson, to talk about the urgent need for a state civil rights law. The march helped build support for the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 and helped result in the Kentucky Civil Rights Act of 1966.
In order to facilitate event participation and logistics, the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights has assisted with forming a coalition of professional, educational, human rights and activist groups and individuals. Included in the Allied Organizations for Civil Rights are: the Kentucky Legislative Black Caucus, Kentucky Council of Churches, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the Kentucky Conference of NAACP Branches, the Kentucky Chapter of the National Association of Human Rights Workers, the Kentucky Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Kentucky Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, the Fairness Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, the Kentucky AFL-CIO, the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, local human rights commissions throughout the state, and representatives of Kentucky’s colleges and universities.
“The Allied Organizations for Civil Rights hopes that men, women and children from all over the state who believe in continuing the justice movement will participate in the commemorative march and rally on March 5, 2014,” said John J. Johnson, executive director of the state human rights commission.
“It is our desire to build upon the legacy that 10,000 Kentuckians left in 1964 with efforts that ultimately led to the end of legal discrimination and the Kentucky Human Rights Commission being made the state authority charged with investigating and ruling on discrimination complaints,” he said.
Johnson said the Allied Organizations for Civil Rights also hopes to place modern-day human rights at the forefront of the commemorative event, highlighting such issues as encouraging full voter participation and others that affect civil rights such as working to end poverty, improve children’s health and restore voting rights to former felons whose prison terms have ended.
The Kentucky General Assembly will be in session in March, and the event could present an opportunity for people to visit their state legislators and present to them concerns of Kentuckians who care about a variety of issues, Johnson said.
“We will be encouraging schools and colleges to bring students to participate in the event, just as they did in 1964,” Johnson said. “We hope to see busloads of students and teachers as well as human rights, religious, disability, and other activist and advocate groups,” he said.
To help with organization or to sign up to participate, contact Mary Ann Taylor of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights at 1-800-292-5566 or AOCR@ky.gov. AOCR is looking for as many volunteers as possible to help facilitate and to share the plan for the upcoming march.
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The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is the state government authority that enforces the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, and, through its affiliation with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, enforces federal civil rights laws.
The Kentucky Civil Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate against people in the areas of employment, financial transactions, housing and public accommodations. Discrimination is prohibited in all these areas based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender and disability.
In employment, discrimination is further prohibited on the basis of age (40 and over) and on the basis of tobacco-smoking status. In housing, discrimination is further prohibited based on familial status, which protects people with children in the household under 18 and pregnant women. It is also a violation of the law to retaliate against a person who has made a discrimination complaint to the commission.
For more information, contact the commission at 1-800-292-5566. For details about civil rights and commission activities, click here.
From Ky. Commission on Human Rights