2020 Critical Conversations Series


For 47 years, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Committee has been committed to the celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Committee has made it a priority to work to ground the Lexington community and surrounding areas in Dr. King, Jr.’s life history and his commitment to achieving racial justice. From the stage and the podium at the annual celebration, Lexington has heard from a variety of national and local voices. Each voice put forth has honored Dr. King and attempted to bring his message forward into our contemporary realities in America.

In 2019, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Committee decided it would begin efforts to engage the community in months leading up to the annual celebration. The first effort along this vein was a co-sponsored free movie screening. One hundred Lexington community members came together to view the film Just Mercy based on the work of Bryan Stephenson. By the end of the movie, our community had been better educated about the injustices facing incarcerated and condemned people in the United States.

This year, the Committee will continue its new commitment and is introducing a series of events called Critical Conversations. Critical Conversations will put forth opportunities for Lexington to hear the message of local and national activists, educators, experts, and community leaders actively engaged in critical work toward justice. The conversations will be an opportunity to generate dialogue and critical thinking about how to create changes in our systems, our personal lives and our community. For Fall and Winter 2020, we will explore topics such as: healing of racial trauma, exploring economic inclusion through agriculture, and youth led leadership development.

The first Critical Conversation virtual event was held on September 14, 2020. The conversation focused on the impact of racial trauma and anti-Black racism. Our featured speaker was expert and award-winning psychologist and assistant professor of counseling psychology at the University of Kentucky, Candice Nicole Hargons, PhD. Dr. Hargons is also the founding director of the Center for Healing Racial Trauma. She studies social justice, sex, and leadership, all with a love ethic. She is the founding director of the Center for Healing Racial Trauma. Her work has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Blavity. She has also written over 25 articles and book chapters on social justice related topics. 

The second Critical Conversation was held on November 16, 2020. That conversation will focused on planting and harvesting our future through blacks in food/agriculture entrepreneurship. Our featured speaker is Kellee James, founder & CEO of Mercaris, an agtech startup that provides market information and an online marketplace for organic crops. James is also a 2009 Barack Obama White House Fellow. She recently co-founded the Freedmen Heirs Foundation, an organization that provides support to new and existing Black farmers.