West Chester, Liberty joins Lakota Schools to remember, honor MLK Jr.

West Chester and Liberty townships are holding a joint celebration and remembrance of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

West Chester and Liberty townships will, for the first time in years, hold a celebration and remembrance in Liberty Twp., according to organizers. The activities will include a short walk of participants to the Liberty Center. The 2023 March for Unity sets out at 10 a.m. on Monday from Cabela’s parking lot, 7250 Cabela Drive.

Marchers will cross Liberty Way at the Tyler’s Place Boulevard crosswalk en route to Liberty Center. The march loops around the shopping mall going west, then north and finally back east to the Liberty Center Living Room, 7100 Foundry Row, where a brief reception with hot cocoa and donuts immediately follows.

The event will include community speakers and the participation of some Lakota Local Schools’ officials and staff, which serve both the West Chester and Liberty township communities.

King dedicated his life to the struggle for civil rights through non-violence. Through his leadership, he was a pivotal player in ending segregation for African Americans and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. His acts and words still today unite many in communities across the country, and around the world, and his legacy remains strong for many nearly 55 years after his assassination on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.

This in-person and indoor event was interrupted for a few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but participating officials said they are glad to have a full event again and one that links both the townships.

“It is an honor for Lakota Schools to still have a seat at the table for this special community tradition after so many years,” said Lauren Boettcher, manager of school and community relations for the 17,200-student district, which is the largest in Butler County. “We especially appreciate the student contest being such an integral part of the program. It gives our students a space to share their perspectives with our community in a way that is meaningful to them. We are always blown away by their thoughtfulness and creativity.”

Barb Wilson, spokeswoman for West Chester Twp., said the township “has been honored over the past two decades to collaborate with Liberty, Lakota Schools and a dedicated group of residents committed to remembering the words and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

She added, “The holiday is about more than a day off from work or school, and this event reminds us that as a community, we can be unified by Dr. King’s message.”