UK Happenings

Annual MLK Day Celebration in Lexington set for Jan. 15, 2024

MLK Day march.
Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 20, 2023) — This year’s MLK Holiday Celebration will be Jan. 15, 2024 beginning with the annual Freedom March at 1 p.m. and concluding with the powerful commemorative program held at the Central Bank Center at 2 p.m. The march begins and ends at the Central Bank Center in downtown Lexington. 

“This storied event has been praised by media commentators and several of our illustrious speakers as ‘one of the best in the country for its consistent record of presenting thoughtful, timely and creatively uplifting programs,’” said Chester Grundy, MLK Day Event chairperson since 1974. “We look forward to celebrating with our community and invite everyone to come together on Jan. 15.”

The MLK Holiday Observance in Lexington provides an opportunity for our community to come together to honor Martin Luther King’s legacy of freedom, justice, peace and equal opportunity for all Americans. The annual march and program draws participation of several thousand people from across Central Kentucky and beyond. The MLK Holiday Observance is a free public event designed to inspire the better angels of our nature as we unite as a community to elevate King’s vision and legacy. The 2023 march had a record crowd of over 8,000.

The program keynote speaker this year is Rev. Kevin W. Cosby, Ph.D. Grammy and Oscar-winning artist Peabo Bryson will perform with the internationally renowned youth choral ensemble Uniting Voices Chicago and Uniting Voices Lexington will be the featured artists at the commemorative program. 

Community members can support the MLK Celebration at

MLK Planning Committee History: Lexington’s Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance was founded in 1973, five years after the tragic assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968. Jerry Stevens, the first director of UK’s Office of Minority Student Affairs and Edgar Mack, faculty member in UK’s College of Social Work, served as founders and co-coordinators during the early days of this observance. They would later be joined by Chester Grundy, who upon his hiring, would take on the role of program coordinator in 1974. The MLK Holiday was originally established not only to elevate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. but to establish an undergraduate scholarship in his honor. More historical details can be found at

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