Downtown Lexington is usually an active place on Martin Luther King Day. And so it was this 20th day of 2014. But, some participants in this year's annual march say more work is needed to further the efforts of the slain civil rights leader. While special Martin Luther King festivities occur at places like the children’s museum and historic Kentucky Theater, the march through downtown remains the city's highest profile event.
Nina Reed was among the large crowd, singing and marching, and pushing a baby in a stroller. She says progress in achieving full equality is all about a can-do and can’t-quit attitude. “When we get our education and we move forward, we have to reach back and help our people move forward. We got to constantly keep moving, keep trying, and keep doing it. We just never give up,” said Reed.
Lexington native Andre Wilson says a turnaround in his life helps to spur him on. “I’ve come from prison. I’ve had a drug problem, lived on the streets and I was able to overcome and now I’ve been able to through my business give back,” said Wilson. In 18 years of business, running his own lawn and house-washing service, Wilson says he’s hired refugees, whites, Hispanics, and recovering drug addicts.
Sandy Canon has been active in human relations dialogue for years. She says, while demonstrating unity, the city’s annual march is not enough. “It’s one hour out of a year. No, it’s not enough. I really think we need to be much more proactive in addressing the inequities in our community,” said Canon.
Richard Mitchell, with the 30-year-old Central Kentucky Council on Peace and Justice says his organization used to give out buttons that read ‘wearing buttons isn’t enough.’
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray agrees, it’s the day-to-day attitudes that make the biggest difference. “Clearly it’s what we do day in and day out to demonstrate through community that we are inclusive that we are welcoming,” added Gray.
The mayor says the march does demonstrate and illustrate history and legacy and inspiration. He found inspiration in the comments of young people who attended the annual unity breakfast, held at Heritage Hall in the Lexington Center.