Commemorative civil rights rally is March 5 in Frankfort

A major civil rights gathering will take place on March 5 in Frankfort as many people come together to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march in 1964 led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Everyone who is proud of Kentucky’s historic role in helping to end segregation in the nation and for being the first state south of the Mason-Dixon Line to have a state Civil Rights Act is enthusiastically invited to participate,” according to a press release from the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.

MLK 1964The event is being organized by the Allied Organizations for Civil Rights, of which KFTC is one of many members. The commemorative march and accompanying rally will be from 10 a.m. through approximately noon EST on Wednesday, March 5.

“It is our desire to build upon the legacy that 10,000 Kentuckians left in 1964 with efforts that ultimately led to the end of legal discrimination and the Kentucky Human Rights Commission being made the state authority charged with investigating and ruling on discrimination complaints,” said John J. Johnson, executive director of the state human rights commission.

The historic March 5, 1964, Civil Rights March on Frankfort included more than 10,000 people who walked to the capitol to urge a law that would help end segregation by making discrimination illegal in the area of public accommodations such as stores, restaurants, theatres, and hotels.

A host of Kentucky civil rights leaders, citizens of all races, and celebrities participated. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., 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.

The folk group Peter, Paul and Mary led songs about freedom. Gov. Edward (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 also helped build support for the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, and helped result in the Kentucky Civil Rights Act of 1966.

Here are places where people are gathering for buses and carpools to the rally. For more information and additional locations, contact Mary Ann Taylor, Kentucky Commission in Human Rights, at 502-782-9728 .

  • Lexington: Shiloh Baptist Church at 7:30 a.m.
  • Louisville: the Center for African American Heritage and South East Christian Church Lot B at 7:30 a.m.
  • Covington: the Covington Human Rights Commission/City Hall
  • Frankfort: meet at 2nd Street and Capital Avenue at 9:30 a.m.
  • Owensboro: Owensboro Human Rights Commission
  • Bowling Green: Bowling Green Human Rights Commission
  • Paducah, Franklin and Russellville are among the other locations where people will gather. Call for details. Others locations likely will be added.

The Kentucky Civil Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate against people in the areas of employment, financial transactions, housing and public accommodations. Discrimination is prohibited in all these areas based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender and disability. In employment, discrimination is further prohibited on the basis of age (age 40 and over) and on the basis of tobacco-smoking status. In housing, discrimination is further prohibited based on familial status, which protects people with children in the household under the age of 18, and it protects women who are pregnant.

It is also a violation of the law to retaliate against a person who has made a discrimination complaint to the commission.

The Allied Organizations for Civil Rights was formed for the sole purpose of organizing this commemorative event and carries the same name of the group that organized the 1964 march on Frankfort. It is a collaborative network consisting of professional, educational, human rights and activist groups and individuals.

The group includes the Kentucky Legislative Black Caucus, Kentucky Council of Churches, the Kentucky Conference of NAACP Branches, the Kentucky Chapter of the National Association of Human Rights Workers, the Kentucky Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Kentucky Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, the Fairness Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, the Kentucky AFL-CIO, the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, local human rights commissions throughout the state, representatives of Kentucky’s colleges and universities and KFTC.

“The Allied Organizations for Civil Rights hopes that men, women and children from all over the state who believe in continuing the justice movement will participate in the commemorative march and rally on March 5,” said Johnson.

He added that the Allied Organizations for Civil Rights also hopes to place modern-day human rights at the forefront of the commemorative event by urging full voter participation and access.

“We will be encouraging schools and colleges to bring students to participate in the event, just as they did in 1964,” Johnson said. “We hope to see busloads of students and teachers as well as human rights, religious, disability, and other activist and advocate groups,” he said.

For more information, to help with organization or to sign up to participate, contact Mary Ann Taylor of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights at 800-292-5566 or at AOCR@ky.gov. Allied Organizations for Civil Rights asks for as many volunteers as possible to help facilitate and to share the plan for the 50th anniversary march.

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