Host Families Wanted

Walk to Freedom News Release

Long Distance Hiker to Begin 400 mile Freedom Walk in Selma Seeks Host Families in

Selma, Benton, Lowndesboro

February 24-28, 2018

AMHERST, MA – January 24, 2018 –Long Distance Hiker to Begin 400 mile Freedom Walk in Selma

A Massachusetts man, who has been invited to join in remembering the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, plans to walk from Selma to Memphis, via Montgomery and Birmingham, as part of a community partnership project.

Throughout American history, especially African-American history, walking has punctuated major social- change events, said Ken Johnston, an amateur long distance hiker from Amherst, Massachusetts.

The walk will connect the historic U.S. Civil Rights Trail from Selma to Montgomery, trace the Underground Railroad and conclude at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

“The idea behind Walk to Freedom, as I’m calling it, came to me after I finished walking across Massachusetts last summer and sensed that I needed to keep going. I heard the whispers of our ancestors in the words of the great Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman: ‘Keep going, if you want a taste of freedom, keep going!’”

“I’m trying to network with community groups, schools, churches, and individuals in the Selma, Benton, and Lowndesboro areas that would be open to serving as a host family, for one night only as I journey from Selma to Montgomery.

Walk to Freedom will take 37 days and connect with people, places and history across 18 counties and 28 townships between Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee – the distance driving from Birmingham to Baton Rogue.

I will begin walking from Selma right after church on Sunday February 25, completing 100 miles a week to reach Memphis by April 2.

“When I sent my proposal to participate in the ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’ MLK50 Remembrance Ceremonies in Memphis, I had an idea to do this. When they accepted my proposal, I knew I had to do it,” Johnston said.

“I’m doing this walk because I believe the Civil Rights of many Americans are being eroded today,” Johnston said, adding, “additionally, I see this journey as generating a series of questions and observations that I look forward to sharing with civic groups and area schools during my walk and upon my return.”

“I owe a lot to those who came before me, and those who have helped me along the way. This is my way of paying homage to their legacy while simultaneously building on my own,” Johnston said.

Groups or organizations wishing to be a host family, or invite Ken to speak to their group while he is crossing central Alabama between February 25 – March 15, may contact Ken Johnston directly by email at kjohnston16@yahoo.com.

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