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On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, A Talk With A Pastor About Racism

People across the country took time Monday to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The civil rights icon was assassinated in April 1968. In 1983, then-President Ronald Reagan signed a bill establishing the third Monday of January as a federal holiday to honor King’s life.

In Louisville, a motorcade wound through neighborhoods west of downtown around noon, eventually stopping at Hughlett Temple AME Zion Church.

There, Pastor Valerie Washington welcomed the crowd to the pews. An organist played hymns as a recording of King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech bounced from a speaker to the vaulted ceiling above.

Before all of this, however, when the church was empty and the warmth of a hundred or so bodies had yet to fill the cool air of the cavernous building, I spoke with Pastor Washington about the torment of racism and the lessons of King's teaching.

"Martin Luther King said the time is always right to do what is right," she said. "So, if we do what is right today, it will be a better tomorrow."

Click the player above to hear some of our conversation.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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