UK Happenings

UK to honor 50-year milestone during MLK holiday observance

Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 11, 2023) — The University of Kentucky will commemorate 50 years of celebrating the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on campus from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the Singletary Center for the Arts Concert Hall. 

“It is our pleasure to host a celebration on our campus to recognize 50 years of service,” Lisa Higgins-Hord, assistant vice president for community engagement, said. “This event is an educational celebration focusing on UK being one of the oldest organizations in the United States to recognize and honor Dr. King for his role in the civil rights movement.”

Lexington’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Observance was founded in 1973 at UK, five years after the tragic assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., by 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. The observance typically consisted of a small candlelit march through the campus followed by a small commemorative program in Memorial Hall. 

Today, 50 years after its inception, the observance has grown into an MLK holiday march around the city of Lexington and a commemorative program with participation and sponsorship from community churches, universities, businesses, nonprofit organizations, youth groups, social justice organizations, fraternities and sororities.

This year, to celebrate the milestone, the university will highlight its involvement in recognizing Martin Luther King as a civil rights leader in the United States. The event will enhance the knowledge of students, faculty and staff regarding the civil rights movement in Kentucky and on the national front. Members of the UK community and the Commonwealth will be exposed to inspirational art, music and conversations with civil rights living legends.

The program will consist of a performance from Uniting Voices Chicago and remarks from UK President Eli Capilouto, Vice President for Institutional Diversity Katrice Albert, faculty members and UK students. A panel discussion featuring John Johnson, former NAACP KY representative; Charles Neblett, civil rights leader and Freedom Singer; Mattie Jones, civil rights and social justice activist; and Aaron Ann Cole-Funfsinn, Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass representative, on the civil rights movement will also take place. 

“We look forward to celebrating this milestone with our campus and Lexington communities,” Higgins-Hord said. 

Sign language interpreters will be present at this event. The event is open to all UK and Lexington community members. 

Due to limited space, all persons interested in attending should complete this registration form:

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.