The year 2020 has been one in which we have seen the world taken to its knees. The United States, itself, has been ravaged by COVID-19 and by continued police brutality against Black bodies. Even in the midst of widespread death and economic disaster, courage and the undeniable force of the human spirit have revealed themselves in the voices of activists and community members across this nation and the world. The year 2020 reminded us that conditions in the United States are not so different than the very conditions that created the need for a voice like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights activists in the sixties. The year 2020 also reminds us that the journey toward freedom and justice for Black people and other marginalized groups is long and the terrain relentless; and yet, we must keep moving. It is in the spirit of such resilience that the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration in Lexington, KY will take place as anticipated on January 18, 2021.

In order to carry out its commitment to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, the Lexington MLK Holiday Committee has done its best to face and adapt to the challenges presented in 2020. Below is information about the necessary changes for the 2021 annual celebration.


The March

The Lexington MLK Holiday Committee plans to move forward with the Holiday Freedom March at 10 a.m. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, changes have been made and the planning committee, in conjunction with the Governor’s office and public health officials, will continue to evaluate the virus and its impact on the community. Should the committee determine that the march should be delayed or canceled this year due to public safety and health concerns, participants will be notified. Here are the changes as they stand:

  • To facilitate the safest marching conditions, the march line-up, with which you are familiar, will be temporarily discarded to ensure the maximum possible opportunities for social distancing.
  • As you arrive, all participants are encouraged to line up along High Street adjacent to the Central Bank Center (formerly Lexington Convention Center) in an orderly and physically distanced fashion, while wearing a mask or some form of protective face shield covering.
  • There will not be markers placed to reserve march line-up positions this year, all participants are encouraged to avoid forming in close groups.
  • The entire event will be conducted outdoors. Complimentary parking will be provided in the large Central Bank Center lot on High Street.
  • You can proceed from your vehicles directly to the march beginning at 10:00 a.m. Because of safety for participants, downtown streets will begin closure at 9:45 a.m. through duration of the march.
  • The Freedom March route in the heart of downtown Lexington will be primarily the same as in previous years, with the exception of beginning on High Street at Central Bank Center and concluding at Triangle Park.

For questions concerning the annual Freedom March, please feel free to email or call 859-257-8927. For information about the planned programming or how to make contributions to the Lexington MLK Holiday Committee, contact Committee Co-chair, Councilmember James Brown at


The Program

In the place of a traditional commemorative program held in Heritage Hall, the Committee has partnered with Lexington born film maker, Joan Brannon to create the documentary, Fire and Heart: A Blueprint for Liberation. The documentary examines racial justice and healing discourse for Black people in Kentucky. It includes clips from past MLK Lexington celebrations. It invites the voices of activists and community members currently involved in the movement to share their experiences with direct action, protest, and to discuss the need for healing from racial trauma within the Black community. Featured storytellers are: Jecorey Arthur, Hannah Drake, Chester Grundy, Ann Beard Grundy, Keturah Herron, LeTonia Jones, Sadiqa Reynolds, and Sarah Williams. Additional creators of the film include, LaShelle Allen (music) and Nzingha-Beverley Sweeney-Sheppard (visual art).

Official Film Trailer: 

Fire and Heart: A Blueprint for Liberation debuted live on the MLK Holiday Committee’s YouTube channel on January 18.  To watch the documentary, visit:  
Following the debut, the documentary will be screened across several area media platforms and channels throughout January and February 2021.


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Congratulations to Jiya Alcorn, a senior at Henry Clay High School, who was named the recipient of the 2021 MLK Student Scholarship. Dr. Erica Gray, executive director of academic support and persistence at Kentucky State University recently presented Jiya with the scholarship award virtually. Jiya is enrolled and will begin her freshman year at KSU this Fall where she will major in accounting.