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Kentuckians reenact 1964 civil march on 60th anniversary in Frankfort

KSU Choir Singing at the March on Frankfort Anniversary
Stu Johnson
KSU Choir Singing at the March on Frankfort Anniversary

60 years ago, around 10,000 people gathered in front of Kentucky’s Capitol, demanding equal rights. The six-decade anniversary of that historic moment included reflection and a call to continue on with 2024 efforts.

A much smaller group reenacted the march down Capitol Avenue right up to the front steps of Kentucky's Capitol building on Tuesday. Louisville Civil Rights Activist Mattie Jones told the crowd, quote, “We’ve got to unseat ourselves if we’re gonna save our children.”

“They don’t understand that they must be educated from the mind, from the head, and from the heart. We’ve come a long ways but somehow coming along that ways we got a little bit too comfortable,” said Jones.

Veteran Kentucky Senator Gerald Neal was at the 1964 March as a youngster. He said the event in which Martin Luther King Junior and Jackie Robinson spoke was groundbreaking for this part of the country.

“It was a bold declaration that Kentucky, our Commonwealth was ready to lead the South out of the shadows of segregation and discrimination,” said Neal.

Kentucky’s passage of the 1966 Civil Rights Act set the stage for other states to follow.

Also attending then as a young person was David Wilson who said he stood Tuesday in a similar spot to 1964.

“It made a big challenge for people to come together in Kentucky I really believe because there was great join of community and everything went smoothly,” said Wilson.

One of the many people holding signs at the anniversary event was Frankfort’s Charles Wright.

“Silence in betrayal, something that Martin Luther King said. So, if you’re silent, if you’re not speaking out you’re betraying people,” said Wright.

The 1964 March on Frankfort included music by the Kentucky State College choir. 60 years later it was the KSU choir.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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