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Murray Residents Calling For Confederate Monument Removal Organize "Week Of Action" Around MLK Day


  Murray residents calling for removal of a Confederate monument in the city’s courthouse square are organizing a “week of action” for community members to take part, centered around Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The week of action — organized by a group of residents working under the name, “Move the Monument” — begins Sunday with a virtual viewing of one of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches, “The Other America.” The following discussion will be led by MarTeze Hammonds, the Chief Diversity Officer at Purdue University Fort Wayne; Jessica Evans, Director of Assessment and Accreditation at Murray State University’s College of Education and Human Services and member of the Amnesty International Board of Directors; and Sherman Neal, a Murray State Assistant Football Coach and advocate for removing Murray’s Confederate monument. 


Then, organizers are encouraging residents to donate to community groups and initiatives on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and in following days asking residents to start discussions on topics including racism, and calling elected officials about other issues of concern. Neal, one of the residents organizing the week of action, said the planned events have taken a new meaning given an insurrectionist at the U.S. Capitol wielded the Confederate flag.


“Hopefully the whole, ‘When is the time’ argument is gone. Should never have to hear that again. We just had a terrorist attack with the people wielding the same flag inside of the capitol,” Neal said.


The week of action ends with Confederate monument removal advocates inviting community members to a protest at the monument the morning of Saturday, January 23. Neal said along with his group’s efforts to remove the monument, some of the planned discussions and suggested actions during the week are initiatives his group has wanted to do for months. One of the suggestions during the week includes purchasing books and adding them to the community’s Little Free Libraries


“How many books are in [the Little Free Libraries] that talk about some of the things that we're having issues with?” Neal said. “By getting books by Black authors, or by Asian authors, or by gay authors to add some diversity, we can help give people tools that they may not have.”


Neal said other regional and community organizations are collaborating during the week including West KY NOW, the United Way of Murray-Calloway County, the Murray State University College Democrats, and the 1863 Project, the name of a project started by community members advocating for political and social change in Murray and elsewhere. 


Murray State University is also hosting a virtual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, led by the university’s Office of Multicultural Initiatives. The theme for the celebration is, “Living the Dream: Committing to a Better Community and World,” with a keynote speech that morning by Kevin D. Woodgett, Senior Chair for the Health Coalition of Delaware County and Senior Pastor, Church of the Living God of Muncie, Indiana. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, no in-person projects or events that day are planned by the university.

"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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