Honoring the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Photo of 2019 Freedom March

On Monday, I will join members of the UK family and our larger community to march in solidarity and support of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the annual MLK Freedom March on West Main Street.

The march—and the people who participate—are a poignant and profound example of our dream to imagine what’s wildly possible the same way Dr. King did more than half a century ago.

Indeed, he had a dream that has transcended time.

Today, we must continually ask ourselves, as Dr. King did, how we can do better for each other, and how we can do better for the future of the nation and world.

For our institution, that question of what is possible for the world we serve is particularly relevant. Our mission, after all, is to be the University of, for, and with Kentucky.

We know that what we can dream, we can do.

And we also know that we would not be where we are today, if it were not for the tenacity and courage of a single student 70 years ago—the first African-American enrolled at UK—who bravely opened doors that were closed to too many, for too long.

Lyman T. Johnson set the standard of excellence high. He expected nothing less than working together to create a community of belonging—a place where every voice matters.

There is both promise and challenge to be found in his powerful story.

It’s a reminder that we are a place for all people…a place that celebrates all people...and that becoming a more equitable and just environment is a journey, not a project.  

Our values are evident in our numbers, how we operate, and in the significant programs and initiatives underway at the University of Kentucky and across our community.

It’s also why we’ve been a proud partner in this important anniversary that began more than 40 years ago on the UK campus—one of the most fulfilling parts of my presidency at the University.

Thank you to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government for once again partnering with us, and to Reverand Delman Coates, the 2020 featured guest speaker, and this year’s featured artist and composer, DONNIE. I look forward to another year of celebration and remembrance as we honor the life and legacy of Dr. King.

So, today, take a moment to pause in quiet reflection of progress that has been made, the unfinished work that remains, and the mantle of responsibility Dr. King left to each of us.

I encourage you to embrace the ideas and actions that strengthen our sense of inclusion and our value of belonging. And I hope you will continue to engage in opportunities to volunteer and offer support to others in need of assistance.