10,000 people attended the 1964 March on Frankfort.
Some in the crowd for the original march feared they would be jailed for protesting inequality.
Gerry Gordon Brown
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Crowds gathered at the Capitol Wednesday to mark the anniversary of the March on Frankfort.
FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Thousands of people marched in Frankfort on Wednesday, and some of them could remember the civil rights movement they were there to celebrate.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and baseball legend Jackie Robinson came to Frankfort in 1964 to advocate for a ban on discrimination and segregation in public places. Wednesday, a few thousand people gathered in downtown Frankfort for an anniversary rally.
It's important to celebrate because the original march was a powerful day in history, said Gerry Gordon Brown, who was one of an estimated 10,000 people who attended.
"It was very empowering," said Brown, 73. "We were so excited to see all the people -- we had no idea how many people were coming."
Brown, who was then a senior at Kentucky State College, said she and a few friends got within feet of King and Robinson as they stepped out of their car. The crowd marched down Capitol Avenue from downtown Frankfort to the state Capitol, just as a smaller crowd of a few thousand did during Thursday's anniversary event.
The legislation the crowd wanted in 1964 would have prohibited stores, theaters and other businesses from segregation or discriminating against blacks. The bill died in committee that year, but Kentucky became the first southern state to approve a civil rights law in 1966.
Some in the crowd for the original march feared they would be jailed for protesting inequality, Brown said.
"It was insulting," she said. "(Discrimination) made us feel insulted, it hurt our feelings. We were just not treated equally."
Brown, who is hearing-impaired, is an advocate for people with disabilities. She grew up in public housing in Louisville and had attended marches for social justice before the March on Frankfort, but said it remained an important day to her.
"To know that I did play a small part in making a change for the better," she said. "It helped push (civil rights legislation) forward, showed that it was needed, and brought about an important change."
Wednesday's anniversary turned into political rally, just like the original march. Attendees urged the Kentucky General Assembly to restore the original intent of House Bill 70, which would automatically restore voting rights for most felons after they complete their sentences.
A Senate committee substitute mandates a five-year waiting period and takes away the opportunity for people with more than one felony conviction.
The House on Thursday rejected the Senate's changes and the measure appears destined for a conference committee.
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