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MLK Day event set for Monday

After several years without a community-wide celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a local group has planned an event.

Carolyn Dupont, a member of the local CARE Council and chair of the MLK Day committee, said there will be a MLK Day celebration beginning at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20, at First Baptist Church on York Street.

There will be a breakfast followed by a program and a then a march to the Jessamine County Courthouse, where the program will conclude. The group is asking for a $5 contribution for breakfast.

The keynote speaker will be Colmon Elridge, government relations director for the Kentucky Education Association. Elridge, 38, served eight years as the executive assistant and senior advisor to Gov. Steve Beshear.

Dupont said this is the first MLK Day celebration in the city in more than 20 years.

She and the other CARE Council members were passionate about reinitiating the event so the community could celebrate and honor those who were active in the Civil Rights Movement.

“It’s a great opportunity to remember where we’ve been and to think about where we’re going and where we still need to go,” she said. “We have made progress, but no one can deny that we still have work to do. I think that it’s a good time to think about those issues.”

CARE Council member Moses Radford said many of those individuals were Jessamine residents and some still live here.

He said while King was certainly the face of the movement, MLK Day is about celebrating all those who fought for the freedoms of the oppressed in the U.S. during the Civil Rights Movement.

“There were a lot of issues in Jessamine County,” Radford said. “And for this county not to remember someone of such stature as Dr. King, for any city not to celebrate, I think is an injustice.”

Dupont also said the point of the celebration extends beyond its namesake.

“MLK Day is about more than remembering just Dr. King,” she said. “It’s a reminder that we’re a much different country than we were in the 1950s and 1960s. Thank God we changed our values. MLK was not a popular man during those times. I think reflection on that and reflection on how much resistance there was to the work that he did, and that it was about a lot more than just him. I think that’s the most important thing.”

Radford said he hopes the celebration reminds people of the importance of unity.

“If we’re going to make accomplishments, we must make them together,” he said.

Dupont said she hopes the community will show up, support the event and help it grow in the future.

“I think they can be moved to reflect and to be inspired,” she said.v

About Whitney Leggett

Whitney Leggett is managing editor of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. To contact her, email whitney.leggett@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0049.

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