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Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission

​​​​​​​​​​Martin Luther King Jr Day​​​

Announcing 2022 DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

Two Paducah residents were recognized with Leadership Awards presented by the Kentucky Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission during a video presentation in January that also honored winners of the Student Art, Poetry and Essay Contest. Other Adult Leadership Awards went to Dr. John Chowning of Campbellsville and Joanne Orr of Louisville. Individuals were nominated and selected for demonstrating commitment, compassion, and dedication to the the ideals of Dr. King. The 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Awards are presented annually to celebrate Dr. King’s life and legacy.

Dr. Chowning received the award due to his numerous seats on distinguished boards, organizations and associations and his passion as he walks and talks about education, pastoral ministry, and reconciliation for the greatness of all God's people. According to his nomination, "Dr. Chowning is a very diverse and educated individual who is a true representation of living and sharing the values of Dr. Martin Luther King." Dr. Chowning is shown at right.

According to her nomination, "Ms. Orr's passion reaches from organizations of youth reading programs to wheelchair basketball tournaments. She works with homeless Veterans and has delivered Meals on Wheels for past 13 years. She has an abundance of service on boards some in a position as director. All important, however, is the passion and spirit in which her work is carried out, which is more valuable than gold. The dream lives on.​"

The Adult Leadership Award went to 18-year-old Nadiya Williams, who among other activities has taken part in peaceful protests and marches in her community, been active in her church, and served as a Paducah Bank Teen Ambassador and mentor for the Oscar Cross Boys & Girls club. According to her nomination, “Nadiya’s parents and grandparents have instilled in her the value of education and a curiosity to learn about her culture, family, slavery, and the truth about our American history.”

Paducah Tilghman High School student Coy Booker was presented the Youth Award for his interest and participation in civil rights activities that include helping to lead Boys to Gentlemen, a school group giving young men the opportunity to interact with and learn from adult male role models who provide guidance and a safe venue to talk about sensitive issues.

Nadiya and Coy are pictured at left.

The commission is administratively attached to the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office, awards co-sponsor along with the Kentucky Historical Society. The video was introduced by Kevin Russell, commission chair, and included remarks from Gov. Andy Beshear, who was introduced by commission member Ashley Parrott. 

“Tonight we’re honoring you, the leaders across Kentucky bringing real, lasting change for our people,” Gov. Beshear said. “Right now we are facing several historic moments in Kentucky…  and to meet this economic moment we must work together. We must work to ensure that prosperity reaches every corner of the commonwealth, including the corners, places and neighborhoods that are far too often left out. And your work will help us do just that by inspiring our people and starting important conversations that call for action.”

Commission member Althea Jackson, director of Louisville Metro Government Boards and Commissions, opened the program with an invocation, followed by music from the Kentucky State University Chamber Singers directed by Dr. Lloyd Mallory, Jr. Commission member Stan L. Holmes gave the keynote address focusing on the contest theme, “My Vote, My Voice, Does It Matter?”

“We as a people don’t take breaks from doing what’s right. We remember the dream,” said Holmes. “We celebrate the dream with action. When we act on the dream and continue on the legacy then we can truly understand that Martin Luther King’s voice will continue to be heard, and we will remember that our voice and our vote truly matter.”

​The video is available at this link. The list of student contest winners follows, including links to Leadership Award nominations and first-place entries:  


First Place – Brycen Sutphin, Fairview Elementary School, 3rd Grade
Second Place – Skylar Breeding, Fairview, 3rd Grade
Third Place – Cash Williams, Fairview, 2nd Grade

First Place – Alexis Gossett, Fairview Elementary School, 5th Grade
Second Place – Lynndan Fugett-Stevens, Fairview, 5th Grade
Third Place – Grayson Suiter, Fairview, 5th Grade
Honorable Mention - D’zandrae Hartley, Northern Elementary School, 5th Grade

Middle School
First Place – Grace Reck, Anchorage Public School, 8th Grade
Second Place – Jett Stanley, Fairview Middle School, 7th Grade

High School
First Place – Jayda Bushnell, Fairview High School, 9th Grade
Second Place – Miranda Caskey, Fairview, 11th Grade
Third Place – Jaxon Manning, Fairview, 12th Grade

First Place – Kiana Pineda Mack, Mary Todd Elementary School, 5th Grade

High School
First Place – Lana Shadler, Simon Kenton High School, 12th Grade
Second Place – Jada Johnson, Simon Kenton, 11th Grade
Third Place – Ryan Caldwell, Simon Kenton, 11th Grade

First Place – Clare Herfel, Highland Middle School, 6th Grade
Second Place – Geraldine Ibarra Villa, Maurice Bowling Middle School, 6th Grade
Third Place – Emma Arn, Maurice Bowling, 6th Grade

Middle School
First Place – Sarah Steiden, Highland Middle School, 7th Grade

High School
First Place – Caitlin Rott, Simon Kenton High School, 12th Grade

For questions about either the leadership or student contest awards, please contact Tressa Brown, Martin Luther King, Jr. State Commission Administrator, at 502-892-3607 or

Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission 2021 Annual Awards 

A video of the 2021 Annual Awards ceremony may be viewed at this link.


The Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission is composed of members appointed by the Governor from diverse backgrounds in Kentucky life, including individuals associated with labor, industry, commerce, government, civil rights, education, youth organizations, sports, fine arts, and entertainment.

The Commission’s mission is to:

  • Promote the annual MLK holiday each January as an occasion to reflect upon the principles of racial equality and nonviolent social change as espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Encourage appropriate ceremonies and activities relating to the MLK holiday.

  • Promote community service in honor of the principles taught by Dr. King.

  • Provide advice and assistance to local governments and private organizations with respect to observance of the holiday.

  • Promote the holiday for interracial cooperation and youth antiviolence initiatives.

  • Whereas, we honor this mortal man, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who made the ultimate sacrifice; therefore, it is the Commission’s intention to promote unity, equality and justice for all people in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the United States and the world.

Commission Members

Kevin L. Russell, Radcliff, Chair

Caroline Atkins, Morehead

Megan Bailey, Bowling Green

Stan L. Holmes, Vine Grove

Althea Jackson, Louisville

Jamaal Jackson, Frankfort

Ruth D. Lynch, Hopkinsville

Natasha Murray, Lexington

Scott Palmer Mason, Bowling Green

Ashley M. Parrott, Louisville

Melvin L. Turner, Louisville

Katrisha Waldridge, Frankfort

Wanda Washington, Campbellsville

Next Meeting

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Kentucky Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission will take place at 1 p.m. Monday, June 6. Meetings are open to the public. Watch here for additional meeting details.

Upcoming Meetings

Upcoming regularly scheduled commission meetings will take place at 1 p.m. the following Mondays:

July 11​
Aug. 1
Sept. 12
Oct. 3
Nov. 7
Dec. 5​

Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission Statement

Adopted by the commission Jan. 13, 2021

We, the members of the Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission, strongly condemn the violent acts that took place at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. The chaos that was wrought on that day is a direct result of deliberate and persistent efforts to create confusion and turmoil surrounding a democratic election.

While we are aware that it is the constitutional right of the people to peacefully assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances, the violent acts that took place in Washington, D.C. went far beyond. The terroristic actions of that day created multiple fatalities and injuries.

Furthermore, we denounce all hate and terror tactics used to intimidate fellow citizens because of their race, religion, political views, or any other difference. We are optimistic and urge that all perpetrators are held accountable.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."  
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.