• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

MLK Jr. breakfast set for Jan. 18

In the early 1960s, George Higgins shook the hand of the man he’d later honor as president of the Woodford County Roots and Heritage Committee. “He was speaking and marching down there in Frankfort, but he knew some people up here who were in civil rights, and he came up here and talked to them, and I got to meet the guy here when I was a little kid. But I didn’t know what was going on, because I was seven, eight years old, and you don’t pay any attention to it,” Higgins said. Higgins learned a lot more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he grew up, and said he worries that some children today don’t know nearly as much as they should about the slain civil rights leader. “I had a little kid, he was helping us set up the church and stuff like that, and he wanted to know what group Martin Luther King sang with,” Higgins said with a rueful laugh. “It threw me for a loop, and I just let it go, because the kid’s a small guy. But you would think parents would teach kids stuff, but it doesn’t seem to happen …” Higgins said teaching young people about King is one of the many goals of the Roots and Heritage Committee. “Our mission is to educate, to motivate, provide activities that will bring people of all diversities together for the betterment of our community. So far, this group has done that,” Higgins said. “I tell people all the time: our parents had a rough time. Nowadays, kids don’t have any idea what’s going on, because they didn’t have to go through this. They didn’t have to go through what I went through when I was growing up.” That included hearing the “N” word and, on occasion, engaging in fisticuffs with those who uttered them. “Today, though, the guys that we used to have scuffles with, I’m best friends with now,” Higgins said with a smile. One of King’s most memorable phrases was the simple request that one day, people would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Higgins said he believes the nation is approaching that goal. “Just my opinion, I’d say it’s over 50, 60 percent. You’ve got a lot of people who aren’t ever going to change, they’re going to always have that stigma, and that’s part of life. But I think it’s changing for the better …” Higgins said. On Jan. 18 at 8:45 a.m., the 7th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast will be held at First Christian Church. The guest speaker is Woodford County Schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins, who will be the first white person to address an MLK breakfast in Versailles. “Scott Hawkins is a good guy. He’s been to all our meetings, all our events. … And we are having problem here in Versailles with our school kids. Our group is trying to help some people at school to get motivated to come to school and see about their kids, see how they’re doing and what they’re doing in school. Right now, we don’t have that,” Higgins said. On Jan. 18, Higgins will sit down in the crowded multipurpose room at First Christian Church, sharing breakfast with folks of all creeds and colors, just as King would want. “It means a lot to me, because he opened a lot of doors,” Higgins said. “He fought for a lot of things, and back when I was old enough to understand what was going on, it made a big difference to me, and it still does now.” On Monday evening, the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day march will begin at 5:30. The march will start at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Clifton, then proceed down Rose Hill Avenue, the right on South Main Street to First Baptist Church.

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