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'He will live on': Lexington mourners remember Rep. Lamin Swann as a kindhearted voice for the unheard

LRC Public Information

More than 100 supporters gathered Thursday in Lexington to honor the life of 93rd District Rep. Lamin Swann, whose life was cut short Sunday. Family, friends, and community members remembered a man known for his kindness, dedication, and unwavering commitment to service.

"As he fought for others and cared for others, we ask you to open up our hearts to care for others the way he did," Rabbi Shlomo Litvin prayed.

Swann served just one session in the legislature, but the celebration of his life at Greyline Station was a testament to just how far his influence stretched. The remembrance drew lawmakers and officials from both sides of the aisle, including Louisville Rep. Al Gentry and Secretary of State Michael Adams.

Speakers stood up one-by-one to recall Swann’s unique combination of passion and humility. The most frequent word of the night might have been “giving.” Swann’s uncle, Tony, noted the 45-year-old’s final act, donating his organs.

"So think about this, he is still living through other people. That is so dynamic and so Lamin," he said. "He just keeps giving."

One other theme of the memorial was the community activist’s beaming smile.

"I'm not sure if I ever saw him not smiling," said Marilyn Dishman, a long-time family friend. She says, had he lived, Swann could have become "larger than life." Dishman noted the similarities with his grandfather, whom he accompanied to the Kentucky Capitol at 8 years old to advocate for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

"I could see him doing great things. I saw him already walking in the footsteps of his grandfather, making a difference in so many ways... his love for family, the underserved, and the unheard, " she said.

Many spoke to the importance of seeing a person of color, who used a wheelchair, refusing to be held back in the causes he championed. One of those causes – simply being a friend. The night ended with a rendition of Andrew Gold's "Thank You for being a Friend."

Lamin grew up in Lexington and graduated from the University of Kentucky and Tates Creek High School. In addition to his term in General Assembly, he worked as a multidisciplinary creative, speaker, and consultant, advocating for progressive causes and political organizations.

He passed away days after being hospitalized for a medical emergency.

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.