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UK, Lexington Celebrate MLK Day on Monday, Jan. 18

Pete Comparoni | UKphoto

The University of Kentucky, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and additional community sponsors will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a number of events and activities to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King.


An American federal holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed on the third Monday of January each year. The upcoming MLK Day will be celebrated on Jan. 18, 2021.

Lexington’s MLK Day celebration begins with the Holiday Freedom March at 10 a.m. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the following changes have been made to the traditional Freedom March procedures. 

  • To facilitate the safest marching conditions, the march line-up, with which you are familiar, will be temporarily discarded to ensure the maximum possible opportunities for social distancing. 
  • As you arrive, all participants are encouraged to line up along High Street adjacent to the Central Bank Center (formerly Lexington Convention Center) in an orderly and physically distanced fashion, while wearing a mask or some form of protective face shield covering. 
  • There will not be markers placed to reserve march line-up positions this year, all participants are encouraged to avoid forming in close groups. 
  • The entire event will be conducted outdoors. Complimentary parking will be provided in the large Central Bank Center lot on High Street. 
  • You can proceed from your vehicles directly to the march beginning at 10 a.m. Because of safety for participants, downtown streets will begin closure at 9:45 a.m. through the duration of the march. 
  • The Freedom March route in the heart of downtown Lexington will be primarily the same as in previous years, with the exception of beginning on High Street at Central Bank Center and concluding at Triangle Park. 

While the current plans are to move forward with the march in January, the planning committee, in conjunction with the governor’s office and public health officials, will continue to evaluate the virus and its impact on the community. Should the committee determine that the march should be delayed or canceled this year due to public safety and health concerns, participants will be notified.
In lieu of the traditional commemorative program held in Heritage Hall following the march, the MLK Holiday Planning Committee has partnered with Lexington-born filmmaker Joan Brannon to produce a documentary focusing on the African American quest for social justice from the civil rights era to the contemporary movement. Titled, “Fire and Heart: A Blueprint for Liberation,” the film will go live on the committee's YouTube channel Jan. 18, at noon. Following the debut screening on the committee's YouTube page, the documentary will be screened across several area media platforms throughout January and February 2021.

For questions concerning the annual Freedom March, planned programming or contributions, please feel free to email tallen@uky.edu or call 859-257-8927. Contributions are very much appreciated, but certainly not required for participation. 

For additional information on the MLK Day celebration, visit https://www.facebook.com/LexingtonMLKHoliday.