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MLK Anniversary March Organizers See Parallels With 1968

Josh James
Marchers cluster at the foot of the Kentucky Capitol on April 4, 2018 for the "March to Move" event marking the 50th anniversary of the death of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kentuckians joined marchers across the country in marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Wednesday.

"Forward together... not one step back" was the call and response ahead of the chilly April 4th March To Move program honoring the legacy of the civil rights icon.

Nearly 40 organizations, from Save Our Schools Kentucky to the Kentucky National Organization for Women, signed on to the event celebrating King's enduring impact on the commonwealth and the nation.

Following a brief procession from the corner of Capital Avenue and Third Street, marchers stood quietly as a recording of the civil rights leader’s final 1968 speech was played back at the base of the Capitol – close to the spot where King joined Kentucky activists in 1964 in calling for an end to legal segregation.

Frankfort Rep. Derrick Graham compared the civil rights era and our own, quoting a section of King's "Mountaintop" speech and explaining that it must be dark before one can see the stars.

"In many ways, the late 1960s are not that much different from today," the Democrat said, preparing to reference Monday's teacher-led demonstrations. "The world seems messed up. It seems like the nation is sick and troubled, but as I look out in this crowd and as I think of the thousands who marched here 48 hours ago and 54 years ago, I see so many stars."

Rev. Clark Williams, the lead organizer of the anniversary march, said the goal was to amplify voices that have not been heard on healthcare, pensions, labor, and a host of issues that have drawn hundreds to the Capitol in recent weeks. Williams said, if he were alive today, King would have pushed back.

"He would be concerned about how policy is being made right up these steps at this building and in the Annex behind it... how it's impacting people, how its hurting people," Williams told WUKY. "Dr. King would be probably be ready to march on Frankfort himself right now."

Gov. Matt Bevin was not in attendance at the march, but tweeted "50 years later, we remember and honor the man whose powerful dream changed the world..."

Two years after the civil rights leader visited Frankfort, the state passed the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.