Kentucky Wesleyan College joins Owensboro community for 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations

Kentucky Wesleyan College will join the Owensboro Human Relations Commission and the Owensboro-Daviess County Education Community for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march and celebration on Monday, Jan. 18. The public is invited to join a march Monday afternoon with a keynote speaker event hosted at KWC’s Activity Hall the same evening. All participants are required to follow COVID-19 protocols including wearing face coverings and physical distancing. The keynote speaker will be available via live stream.

This year’s march is from Owensboro High School (OHS) to Kentucky Wesleyan College (KWC).  Those participating will gather at 11:45 a.m. in the Owensboro High School southeast parking lot on the corner of Ford Avenue and Frederica Street. The march starts at noon and heads south on Frederica Street to KWC. The march will close on the front steps of the Kentucky Wesleyan College Barnard-Jones Administration Building. Transportation will be provided by City of Owensboro Transit from KWC to OHS from 11:15 a.m. to noon and from KWC to Brescia from 12:45 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

On Monday evening at 6 p.m. Kentucky Wesleyan will host Dr. OJ Oleka as the celebration’s keynote speaker in Activity Hall (3300 Frederica Street). In order to comply with gathering protocols, a limited number of tickets will be available to the public for Monday night’s speaker. Please contact KWC Student Services at 270-852-3285 to reserve your ticket.

CLICK HERE for Live Stream of Monday night’s Keynote

Dr. Oleka is the President of the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU). AIKCU advocates for higher education policies at the state and federal level that will lead to increased affordability and access to Kentucky’s independent colleges. Prior to AIKCU, Dr. Oleka was the Deputy Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where he worked on policy that streamlined government, developed the financial literacy standards for the Kentucky Department of Education and protected the property rights of Kentuckians.

Dr. Oleka graduated from the University of Louisville with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a minor in political science. At UofL, Dr. Oleka was Student Body president and chairman of the Kentucky Board of Student Body Presidents.  After graduation, Dr. Oleka joined Teach For America and taught middle school math in St. Louis.

Dr. Oleka also has an MBA and a PhD in Leadership in Higher Education from Bellarmine University. As a published researcher, Dr. Oleka has focused on college affordability, social capital, and workforce development. Dr. Oleka is passionate about ending generational poverty through educational opportunity and economic mobility and is the co-founder of the AntiRacismKY coalition, a group of Kentuckians working to end any remnant of institutional racism in Kentucky. Dr. Oleka lives in Louisville, Ky., where he serves on the education and workforce development committee for the local chamber of commerce. He lives with his wife Jamie, their daughter Riley and their dog Ashe.

Kentucky Wesleyan College will also host a panel of community leaders on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. The panel discussion will focus on investing in and advocating for the rights and wellbeing of marginalized groups and will be streamed on the College’s Facebook page at

The panel will be moderated by Dr. Eric Schmidt, Kentucky Wesleyan College assistant professor of political science. The confirmed panelists at this time are Rev. Rhondalyn Randolph (NAACP), Fr. Larry Hostetter (Brescia University), Naheed Murtaza (Human Relations Commission) and Anna Kuthy (Human Relations Commission).