50th March on Frankfort honors KY civil rights, advocates reform - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

50th March on Frankfort honors KY civil rights movement, advocates for reform

Brandon Mack Brandon Mack
Georgia Davis Powers Georgia Davis Powers

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Fifty years after the first March on Frankfort, thousands of people again descended on the city, rallying to honor the past while taking steps to move forward for a better future.

Carrying signs and shouting chants, people of all ages came together to March on Frankfort.

"I wanted to be a part of the 50th anniversary," said Chayden Reed, 14, of Frankfort.

From rallying for equal voting rights to lobbying for immigration reform, minimum wage increases and health benefits, every step taken toward the state capitol had a purpose.

"Health care for everyone in the state of Kentucky and everywhere else," began Brandon Mack, 13, of Frankfort, "that's why I'm here."

"This House bill is really important," said Anita Collins, a Frankfort resident.

Collins was referring to House Bill 70 that would restore voting rights to felons who have served their time and paid their restitution.

"Once you've served your time and proved you're a good citizen,' said Collins, "it's time to let that go."

"Those that did not get a welcome 50 years ago," began Frankfort Mayor William May, "I'm here today to say we love you and we welcome you into your capital city."

Fifty years after inaugural 1964 march rallying for civil rights, pioneering Commonwealth activists reflected on the progress made thus far.

[RELATED STORY: Kentucky to mark 50th anniversary of march on Frankfort]

"Gone are the laws of segregation," said Senator Gerald Neal, (D-Louisville/District 33). "Gone are the bullwhips of official oppression."

While activists relished in the progress made, they urged those in attendance to press forward in protecting other human and civil rights under attack.

"Our efforts are not complete," said Georgia Powers, a former Kentucky senator and pioneer of the first March on Frankfort.

"If anyone would still insist on denying them that privilege, a right guaranteed by the 15th Amendment, then who is the real criminal," asked Laureate Frank X Walker, a NAACP Image Award Recipient and poet.

The crowd's current concerns had been heard loud and clear.

"It's time to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their term and paid their debt to society," said Gov. Steve Beshear.

State leaders, however, also challenged march participants' advocacy for change to go one step further.

"You have a role," said Neal. "I am inviting you not just to write, not just to call; I'm inviting you today to come to the Senate."

Uplifted in prayer and song throughout the three hour event, the crowd of thousands vowed to march on until victory for all equal rights is won.

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