Fifty years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders marched with a crowd of 10,000 through Frankfort, organizers are working to recreate the milestone day.
A commemorative march and rally are set for 10 a.m. to noon March 5. Participants will gather at the corner of Second Street and Capital Avenue at 9:30 a.m. to start the procession.
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, along with the other members of the Allied Organizations for Civil Rights, announced the event Tuesday.
The historic 1964 march in Frankfort advocated for legislation to help end segregation by making discrimination illegal in the area of public accommodations such as stores, restaurants, theaters and hotels, the Commission on Human Rights said in a press release.
King, the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy and baseball great Jackie Robinson were among those who traveled to Kentucky to help lead the marchers to the Capitol and speak to the crowd from the steps.
Gov. Ned Breathitt met with Frank Stanley Jr., owner of the Louisville Defender newspaper and a key organizer of the event, other state civil rights leaders, and King and Robinson, to talk about the urgent need for a state civil rights law. The march helped build support for the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 and helped result in the Kentucky Civil Rights Act of 1966.
Organizing the event is the Allied Organizations for Civil Rights, a group formed by the Comission on Human Rights made up of partners from across Kentucky.
John J. Johnson, executive director of the state human rights commission, said the group also hopes to place modern-day human rights at the forefront of the commemorative event, highlighting such issues as encouraging full voter participation, working to end poverty, improving children’s health and restoring voting rights to former felons whose prison terms have ended.
The Kentucky General Assembly will be in session in March, and the event could present an opportunity for people to visit their state legislators and present to them concerns of Kentuckians who care about a variety of issues, Johnson said.
“We will be encouraging schools and colleges to bring students to participate in the event, just as they did in 1964,” Johnson said in the press release. “We hope to see busloads of students and teachers as well as human rights, religious, disability and other activist and advocate groups.”
Organizers are looking for “as many volunteers as possible” to make the event happen.
For more information or to participate, contact Mary Ann Taylor of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights at 800-292-5566 or email her at AOCR@ky.gov.