By Dylan Deprey
When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott, he was not hoping to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
When his family was in danger and their house was bombarded with bottles and flames, having a street named after him wasn’t even a thought.
When he marched amongst thousands and gave his monumental “I have a Dream Speech,” he wasn’t speaking to go into the history books.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for peace and justice in a country where freedom rang, yet separate but equal was the norm.
There were plenty of people that wanted to kill him and the other “colored folk” reversing the racist tides of Jim Crow, yet he worked until the last seconds his life was taken.
In 1983, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday became a national holiday. The day is observed every third Monday in January, and it focuses on keeping King’s legacy alive. The day is meant to teach our youth about the strides we have made and the struggles we still face, and to celebrate Dr. King’s life and legacy.
Just as Milwaukee’s own Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive inches closer and closer to its full potential, it is a beacon of hope for other neighborhoods in the city that also emit positive energy for long-awaited change.
As for MLK Day 2018, there are several meetings and events scheduled across Milwaukee, which happened to be one of the first cities to originally celebrate the National holiday.
Some are using the day to celebrate, others to educate and also to congratulate.
The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts will be hosting the 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration on Sunday, Jan. 14. The program will take the stage at Uihlien Hall and highlight the communities’ youth, who every year interpret Dr. King’s words through an art, speech and writing contest.
Other organizations celebrating include: United Indians of Milwaukee, Latino Arts Strings, Milwaukee Flyers Tumbling Team, O.N.F.Y.A.H, MPS’ Milwaukee High School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble and more. The event will conclude with the Paulette Y. Copeland Reception in Bradley Pavilion.
The MLK Library will host a day’s worth of family friendly events including: arts and crafts, voter rights presentations, and live events like spoken word poetry with Kavon Cortez Jones and traditional African dance with Ina Onilu Drum and Dance Ensemble.
The Milwaukee YMCA will host the largest Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event in Wisconsin. The 21st Annual Celebration Breakfast in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. brings together elected officials, advocates and the community to celebrate those pushing the envelope for change and opening doors for everybody in every community.
“Today we celebrate those who have demonstrated a longstanding commitment to making our community a better place for all. Now more than ever the spirit of community service can help heal our differences through a common cause—giving back and strengthening the places where we live, work and play is something we all can agree on,” said Shaneé Jenkins vice president, social responsibility & strategic partnerships for the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee.
Both the Hunger Task Force and Employ Milwaukee will be honored for their longstanding commitment to making the city a better place for all by supporting health, wellness, diversity and inclusion.
The breakfast program will also recognize the winners of this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Spoken Word Contest. The three finalists in each age category (5-9 years, 10-13 years and 14-18 years) were selected after writing an original spoken word piece based on the theme, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”