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Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission

Martin Luther King Jr Day​​​

Announcing the 2021 DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AWARDS​Leadership Awards

The Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission is seeking nominations for the annual 2021 Adult and Youth Leadership Awards, recognizing adult and youth leaders in the community whose actions demonstrate distinguished service in promoting King’s ideals to further the goals of diversity and justice for all. Nominees should demonstrate leadership and achievement to the principles of racial equality, interracial harmony, economic justice, participation in MLK holiday observances, and dedication to Dr. King’s dream in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Deadline for submissions is November 30, 2021. Awards will be announced at a virtual event on January 13, 2022. Submit a nomination at the following link:

Theme: My Vote, My Voice, Does It Matter?

The Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission is now accepting applications for the 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Art, Poetry & Essay Contest, open to students from kindergarten through high school.

Building on Dr. King's passion and leadership, students are asked to creatively express how reflecting on the past can help build a brighter future – in their own life and in the lives of others. Students should reflect on Dr. King's legacy of service to explore innovative approaches to positive social change.


  • Participants must be enrolled in a Kentucky school or home-schooled in Kentucky.
  • The submission should be inspired by and address this year's theme
  • All submissions must be accompanied by a completed entry form
  • Poetry entries must be 200 words or less.
  • Essay entries must be 500 words or less.
  • Visual arts and media entries will be judged on:
    • Creativity and originality
    • Artwork reflects a unique style or expression
    • No written essay is required

Awards:  First-place contest winners will receive a personalized plaque. Second- and third-place contest winners will receive a personalized certificate. First-, second- and third-place contest winners will be selected for primary (1st-3rd), intermediate (4th-6th), middle (7-th-8th) grades as well as high school levels.  The awards will be presented at the Virtual Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Celebration on Thursday, January 13, 2022. 

Deadline:  Entries must be received no later than close of business Tuesday, November 30, 2021.

Submission Forms:

2021 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visual Arts Contest

2021 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest

2021 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Poetry Contest

Please feel free to use the following website link to the Kentucky Civil Rights Database provided by the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Oral History Commission as an additional resource.

​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 2020 Annual Awards 

A video of the 2020 Annual Awards ceremony is available at this link

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An agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office is responsible for the identification, protection and preservation of prehistoric resources and historic buildings, sites and cultural resources throughout the Commonwealth, in partnership with other state and federal agencies, local communities and interested citizens.


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

Ashley M. Parrott, Louisville

Isaiah Stovall, Lexington

Melvin L. Turner, Louisville

Katrisha Waldridge, Frankfort

Wanda Washington, Campbellsville

Upcoming Meeting Schedule

The last regularly scheduled 2021 meeting of the Kentucky Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission will take place at 1 p.m. EST Monday, Dec. 6. The meeting is open to the public and an agenda is available​.​

Regularly scheduled 2022 meetings will take place at 1 p.m. on the following Mondays: 

Jan. 10
Feb. 7
March 7
April 4
May 2
June 6
July 11​
Aug. 1
Sept. 12
Oct. 3
Nov. 7
Dec. 5​

​Watch here for additional information about meeting locations and public access options.

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.