Hundreds gathered at the foot of the Capitol in Frankfort Wednesday to pay tribute to civil rights activists who braved the cold 50 years ago.
Echoes of the past rang out at the Capitol Wednesday as a host of state leaders and civil rights advocates re-enacted the famous march on Frankfort, which helped lay the groundwork for the passage of the 1966 Kentucky Civil Rights Act, the first such law in the South. Dr. Martin Luther King and baseball legend Jackie Robinson led the procession down Capital Avenue in 1964.
Former senator and organizer of the original march Georgia Davis Powers remembered the event as a seminal day in Kentucky history, despite sleet and chilly temperatures.
"Dr. Martin Luther King warmed the crowd with his speech, eloquently verbalizing the inane injustice of being denied a hotel room or a decent meal because of the color of one's skin," she recalled.
But, she warned, more battles remain on the horizon. Powers urged the next generation to remain vigilant against the enemies of equality, which she said are “alive and well.”
Several speakers, including Gov. Steve Beshear and UK professor and Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X Walker, urged legislators to pass House Bill 70, which would restore voting rights for non-violent felons who have served their time.
More than 10,000 people attended the 1964 march.