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Black joy is in focus at a Louisville event honoring MLK

A poster with yellow, black and white designs shows Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. smiling and getting a kiss on the cheek from his wife, Coretta. Word art surrounds the photograph and time and date information is included.
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Kentucky Performing Arts
Keepers of the Dream: A Community Celebration of Dr. King’s Vision will celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and Black joy in it's program.

Black joy is the focus of one Louisville event to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Keepers of the Dream: A Community Celebration of Dr. King’s Vision features performances and awards.

Groups like Redline Performing Arts, Keen Dance Theatre, The Real Young Prodigys and Louisville Living Room will perform.

Organizers said they chose the theme of Black joy to highlight the ways Black people in the U.S. still found spaces for happiness during the trauma of the civil rights movement

In addition to performances, awards will be presented during Keepers of the Dream.

Democratic Kentucky Sen. Gerald Neal and Carolle Jones Clay, senior vice president - managing director of community relations for Republic Bank & Trust Company will both receive a Freedom Award.

Neal, who represents parts of Louisville, is being recognized for his decades of work serving underserved communities. He was the first Black man elected to the Kentucky Senate in 1989 and was inducted into the Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2001.

"I am deeply humbled to be a recipient of this year's Freedom Award,” Neal said in a news release. “It stands as a testament to the resilience and enduring spirit of our community in the pursuit of justice and equality. As we honor Dr. King's vision, let us reaffirm our dedication to building bridges of understanding and compassion in our society."

Jones Clay is being recognized for her philanthropic and community efforts during her tenure at the Republic Bank.

“I am so honored to be counted amongst the current and past recipients of the Mayor’s Keepers of the Dream Award,” Jones Clay said in a news release. “Our young citizens need to witness the love, hope and joy that can come from hard work and perseverance. My goal is to help show them the way to that path, as Dr. King did for me.”

Kentucky Performing Arts will present the Living the Vision Award during the event.

Keepers of the Dream: A Community Celebration of Dr. King’s Vision is Jan. 14 at Whitney Hall. Doors open at 4 p.m. with a pre-show, and the program will officially begin at 5 p.m. Keepers of the Dream is free to the public and the Kentucky Performing Art Center is offering free parking.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.