LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 27, 2013) — The Lexington Chapter of the NAACP and the Central Kentucky Council for Peace & Justice will publicly observe the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Lexington’s Courthouse Square at the corner of Main and North Limestone streets.
It will be 50 years to the day 250,000 Americans marched “for jobs and freedom” in Washington, D.C., led by African Americans but including many races and faiths. Central Kentuckians will gather in downtown Lexington to commemorate, celebrate and honor the courage and hard work of the American civil rights generation of the 1950s and 1960s that put its lives on the line for social change, as well as to remember the work that remains and re-commit to that work.
The theme of the public observance, said event spokesperson Richard Mitchell, will be “Can We Celebrate; Are We Free?” It will include presentation of video highlights of the 1963 March, singing of civil rights era anthems, prayers by religious leaders from several faiths and recognition of local civil rights activists of the 1950s and ’60s. Soloists, poets, children and community leaders will perform and speak.
“The March on Washington was a watershed event in our nation’s history,” Mitchell said. “The March and the work it engendered led directly to desegregation and voting rights laws.”
George Ella Lyon and Francis X. Walker will read original poems. Reel World String Band member will lead a freedom songs medley. Soloist Clay Coffey will sing “O Freedom.” Folk singer Justin Rhorer will perform “Blowing in the Wind.” The event will close with Coffey and JoJuana Greene leading a singing of “We Shall Overcome.”
Speakers will include Bishop Thomas Wallace of the New Birth Church of Christ; the Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper, retired Executive Director of the Kentucky Council of Churches; veteran civil right activist Monica Hall; and Marc Kline, Rabbi at Lexington’s Temple Adath Israel.
The Rev. James Thurman, president of the Lexington Chapter of the NAACP, and Dr. Randolph Hollingsworth, former co-chair of the Central Kentucky Council for Peace & Justice, will host the event.
The event will conclude with a list of current “Dreams” Central Kentucky organizations believe are needed to finally realize the “new birth of freedom” begun 50 years ago. Those attending will be urged to sign on as volunteers with organizations working on those dreams.
We celebrate the courage and hard work of that generation of activists who marched in 1963,” Mitchell said. “However, we must acknowledge that 50 years later many of their objectives are not fully realized. For too many African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities, a just and equal society is still a dream. We urge Central Kentuckians to join us we re-commit ourselves to finishing the work for which some of us, our sisters and our brothers marched 50 years ago.”
Aug. 28, 1963, was also a Wednesday. In case of rain, the event will be move to the Fellowship Hall of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at the corner of Short Street and M.L. King Boulevard.