Members of the community as well as dozens of students from Logan County and Russellville high schools crowded into the room for the program following the 24th Annual Commemorative Unity Walk in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King.
J. Michael Brown, who serves as the Secretary of the Kentucky Justice Department in Frankfort, was the keynote speaker at the event.
He talked about how Martin Luther King, Jr. influenced the American legal system.
“His lasting legacy is not his oratory,” Brown said. “It’s that he was able to help bring about breakthroughs that changed the laws in this country that gave opportunities to people that are different. He helped make ‘Equal justice under the law,’ a reality.”
Brown said that before Martin Luther King, all citizens were not treated equally by the legal system.
“We talked it, but didn’t walk it,” Brown said. “People back then walked in fear each day that the court system would bring injustice instead of justice.”
He said a young Martin Luther King utilized the new medium of television to help raise awareness about injustice that occurred on a daily basis in America.
“Suddenly, people all over the country started to see things that they knew were not right,” Brown said.
And from that newfound awareness, change started to happen.
“Unlike other nations, we can change things peacefully,” Brown said. “We can change the Commonwealth Attorney or judges and we can do it through the election process. We don’t have to drag them out and shoot them like they do in other nations.”
In addition to Brown, several other members of the community also spoke.
Local historian Michael Morrow talked about what it was like when he first heard about the death of MLK as a young child and how that shaped his life.
He also recounted the story of the last lynching that took play in Logan County, which was just over a century ago.
Other speakers included Judge Tyler Gill, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Joe Ross, Commonwealth Attorney Gail Guiling, public defender Lelani Krashin, Charles Neblett and Adairville city councilman Danny Finch.