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Activities scheduled around Lexington as city celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday

By Kathy Johnson
Special to KyForward

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday will be celebrated by thousands in Lexington Monday with a march and a special program among a number of activities planned for the day.

Lexington’s annual celebration and commemoration of King’s life will begin with the Freedom March through downtown at 10 a.m. (line up begins 9 a.m. at Lexington Center’s Heritage Hall), and a special program inside Heritage Hall will follow the march at 11 a.m.

2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration Freedom March

This year’s keynote speaker for the program is prominent anti-racism author, educator and activist Tim Wise, and the theme of the program is “Dr. King’s Vision in an Age of Betrayal.” The program will also include the music of Charles Little and Sandra “Cissy” Williams.

Retired UK administrator Chester Grundy, co-chair of the Martin Luther King Holiday Celebration Planning Committee, says Wise’s life and work are consistent with the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

“His work has always been around the issue of race and helping us better understand the central role that race plays in American life,” Grundy said.

Over the past 25 years, Wise has spoken to audiences in all 50 states, appearing on more than 1,000 college and high school campuses. He is the author of seven books, including his highly acclaimed memoir, “White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son.” His forthcoming book, “White LIES Matter: Race, Crime and the Politics of Fear in America,” will be released in 2018. Wise has been featured in several documentaries and launched a podcast this fall featuring interviews with activists, scholars and artists about movement building and strategies for social change.

Members of UK’s Black Student Union participated in the 2016 Martin Luther King Day Freedom March

The march and program are free. Other free holiday events Jan. 15 in Lexington are the One World Films presentation of the movie, “Hidden Figures,” and the play, “The Meeting.”

“Hidden Figures” will be shown at 2 p.m., at Kentucky Theatre. The movie depicts the story of the heroic efforts of black female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the space race.

“The Meeting” is a one-act drama by Jeff Stetson depicting an imaginary meeting between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X during the height of the civil rights movement. The play, which is being presented by special arrangement with Dramatists PlayService, will begin 5 p.m., at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center; doors will open 4 p.m. It will feature Patrick Mitchell as Malcolm X, UK vocal performance and arts administration alumnus Whit Whitaker as King and Steve Bates as Rashad, Malcolm X’s bodyguard.

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration has been sponsored by the University of Kentucky and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government for many years and is coordinated by the King Holiday Celebration Planning Committee. It’s grown immensely from the fewer than 100 who attended the first event held on UK’s campus in 1973 — a march across campus followed by a program in UK’s Memorial Hall.

Committee Co-Chair Lisa Higgins-Hord, assistant vice president for community engagement at UK, says the event has always held Martin Luther King’s philosophy at its core.

“It’s a day for teaching our community about Dr. King’s philosophy in methods of nonviolent social change and conflict-reconciliation,” Higgins-Hord said. “He fought for equality and knew what the world could become if we chose to recognize the value of a human life. He showed we could challenge injustice and hatred by creating a foundation of nonviolence and unconditional love to diffuse it. That’s powerful beyond measure.”

To learn more about Monday’s events, visit www.uky.edu.

Kathy Johnson writes from UK Now

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