MA man quits job to honor MLK with walk from AL to TN

Ken Johnston has a long walk ahead of him; Four-hundred miles to be exact. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Ken Johnston has a long walk ahead of him; Four-hundred miles to be exact. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Feb. 28, 2018 at 3:01 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2018 at 5:57 PM CST
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SELMA, AL (WSFA) - On a lonely stretch of U.S. Highway 80 inside the Montgomery County line, Massachusetts native Ken Johnston has a really long walk ahead of him.

"This is perfect weather to walk in," Johnson admitted of a warmer-than-usual February. "I am doing this to honor the legacy of Dr. [Martin Luther] King."

He started in Selma on Sunday and his destination will be Memphis, Tennessee, just in time for the anniversary of MLK's assassination on April 4, 50 years ago this year.

"It's important to me because I wanted to feel what those marchers felt," Johnston explained.

The walk is driven by two themes: First, honor King's legacy. Second, exercise. That's 400 miles worth of putting one foot in front of the other.

'"I have a lot of stamina," Johnston admitted.

So far, the journey has been fine, but it hasn't necessarily been a cake-walk. He's loaded down with a 27-pound backpack, extra hiking shoes, and a whistle.

"I use it to keep animals away from me," he explained.

Still, no regrets. This is a man who quit his job to make this journey.

"I'll find another job and everything will be fine," he said.

Ken Johnston has covered about 40 miles so far and hopes to reach the state capitol in Montgomery later Wednesday night. From Montgomery, he'll make his way through Birmingham, northwest Alabama, through Tupelo, Mississippi and finally to Memphis.

"It's been an amazing journey," said the 57-year-old.

Friends, strangers, and host families have helped him along the way with places to stay at night and free breakfasts, such as the biscuit he received from a pastor Wednesday morning on his walk. It's nourishment to keep going.

Johnston says his long walk will come to end when he reaches the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, the site where Dr. King was assassinated.

The motel is now the National Civil Rights Museum.

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