LEXINGTON, KY (12/24/11) – Forty years ago this January, people of the University of Kentucky first honored the memory of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
That first commemorative gathering , which attracted members of the Lexington community as well as students, faculty and staff of the university, took place only three years after the assassination of the nonviolent activist, when the campaign for a national holiday in King’s honor was still in its infancy.
It was not until 1983 that the holiday became law, but resistance and reluctance was such in some states that it was not until 2000 that the holiday was observed as it was intended nationwide.
Today, a committee, including volunteer representatives of the University of Kentucky and the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government, private citizens and representatives of local business and organizations, organize the city’s annual event. This year the committee is bringing contemporary social activist and political commentator Marc Lamont Hill to Lexington.
Described as one of the leading hip-hop generation intellectuals in the country, Hill is an associate professor of education at Columbia University’s Teachers College and an affiliated faculty member of the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University, an accomplished author, a compelling speaker and a regular commentator with national media, including National Public Radio, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Essence magazine, CNN, and other television networks. He is also a regular columnist and editor-at-large of the Philadelphia Daily News. Ebony magazine has twice honored Hill — in 2005 and 2011 — as one of America’s most influential black leaders. He is currently the host of the nationally syndicated television show "Our World with Black Enterprise."
A scholar in the field of educational anthropology and literacy studies, Hill's research focuses on political education, counter-public literacies, and youth culture. In 2009, he published the award-winning book, "Beats, Rhymes and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity." His literacy project makes use of the hip-hop culture to encourage reading skills among high school students, and he supports adult literacy courses for high school drop-outs in Philadelphia and Camden, N.J.
On Jan. 16, 2012, Lexington and the university will welcome Hill as the featured guest of the city’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Everyone is welcome to line up at 9 a.m. for the Freedom March in the corridor of Lexington Center Heritage Hall in downtown Lexington. The march departs promptly at 10 a.m. and returns to Heritage Hall at 11 a.m. for the commemorative program in Heritage Halls East and Center. At 2 p.m. there will be a special free screening of the film “Freedom Riders” at the Kentucky Theatre on Main Street.
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