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91.7 WVXU presents several special programs on the weekend leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Joining Lee Hay for a special edition of The Blues is Dion Brown, President and Chief Operating Office of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Lee Hay also produced Odetta: The Voice of The Civil Rights Movement and welcomed several guests to Around Cincinnati in honor of the holiday.

Everything You Need To Know About This Year's MLK March In Cincinnati

Ann Thompson
MLK marchers in 2020. This year they will be socially distanced or riding in buses or cars.

The annual Cincinnati Martin Luther King Jr. march is still on, but will also include cars this year, as participants try to socially distance themselves during COVID-19. Other events will continue but are virtual.

The March

Registration is required for personal vehicles in Monday's march.The deadline for registration is Sunday.

If you want to ride one of four buses in the march, register here.

No registration is required if you want to walk. Masks are required. The march will leave the Freedom Center at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

The following streets will be closed Monday from 9:30 a.m. until noon for the march:

  • Ted Berry Way closed between Rosa Parks Street and the Suspension Bridge
  • Rosa Parks Street/Vine Street closed between Ted Berry Way and Seventh St
  • Freedom Way closed between Elm Street and Marian Spencer Way
  • Race Street closed between Seventh Street and Freedom Way
  • Second Street closed between Elm Street and Marian Spencer Way
  • Third Street closed between Walnut Street and Elm Street
  • Fourth Street closed between Walnut Street and Elm Street
  • Fifth Street closed between Race Street and Walnut Street
  • Sixth Street closed between Walnut Street and Elm Street

King Legacy Celebration

What is normally a breakfast at the Freedom Center is now an online program Monday at 9 a.m. Registration is necessary and the cost is $25. 

The program features Tulsa, Oklahoma, native DeMarco Morgan and the Tulsa massacre. It was one of the nation's worst incidents of racial violence when, in 1921, dozens of Black residents were killed by mobs and  more than 35 square blocks of what was then known as Black Wall Street were destroyed.

Freedom Center President Woody Keown says Martin Luther King Jr's message is especially important this year. "Dr. King's dream, keeping it alive is so critical, and I think we've had multiple events this year that have shown us, while there's been a lot of progress made, there's still work to be done in this area of social justice."

The King Legacy Celebration will feature performances from the Cincinnati Opera's Reginald Smith, the Cincinnati Black Theatre Company and a spoken word performance from Walnut Hills High School student Zoe Cummings.

The Freedom Center is also sponsoring a Youth Summit on Sunday, Jan. 17 at 3:00 p.m. Registration is free.

The MLK Coalition is sponsoring Monday's commemorative March and program. Even though the virtual program - normally at Music Hall - starts at noon, organizer Louise Lawarre says you can tune in whenever you want. It will stay up on the website for the entire month.

Lawarre says the program was put together in pieces. "We have an excellent video team. It's been amazing to watch them work."

It features musical performances and Rev. Nelson Pierce, Jr., who will address this year's theme, "We Will Never Be Satisfied Until Justice Rolls Down Like Water." Pierce is the senior pastor of Beloved Community Church and is the faith and race program director in the Center for Faith and Justice at Xavier University.

Both the MLK Coalition and the Freedom Center say this year more young people are involved and that will be important going forward.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.