LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) – A longtime voice in the Civil Rights movement passed away.

George Burney Senior founded the annual motorcade and parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King. He was a fixture on WHAS11 when it came to our MLK Coverage.

In 2016, he won the MLK Freedom Award from the Mayor.

Burney actually began his career as a dancer before becoming so entrenched in the Civil Rights movement.

Burney was also the founder of the community activist group known as PRIDE, People's Rights in Demanding Equality.

The mayor called him a trailblazer. Burney passed away after an illness, he was 89-years-old.

Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk David L. Nicholson released the following statement:

“We are saddened to learn of the passing of George Burney, and we join the community and his many friends in mourning his death.

George was a tireless proponent for civil rights and a steadfast advocate for peace in this community for six decades. He truly lived his life based on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of equality and peace. He loved his hometown of Louisville, especially the children of this community, and leaves behind a lasting legacy for all of us to follow. He will be greatly missed."

Mayor Fischer’s statement:

“George was a trailblazer, first on the stage and TV screen as a dancer, and then on the streets, as a tireless advocate for civil rights. Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., George’s fight for civil and human rights extended far beyond his hometown, into places like Seattle, Vancouver and Alaska. George was a man of great optimism and energy who willingly shared his time and his talents long past the age when others might have moved off stage. I was blessed to have known him as a friend and mentor. I grieve with his wife, Barbara, even as I celebrate a life so well lived.”