Racine and surrounding communities will join cities and towns across the nation in honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day with special events Saturday through Monday, Jan. 16-18. The U.S. federal holiday is celebrated on the third Monday in January each year, to commemorate the Jan. 15 birthday of King, a leader of the modern American civil rights movement.
Born in 1929 in Atlanta, Ga., King was a Baptist minister and social activist. From the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968, he led a nonviolent movement to achieve legal equality for African-Americans in the United States. King also campaigned against poverty and international conflict, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in 1964.
The King Holiday, according to the writings of King’s late wife, Coretta Scott King, “honors the life and contributions of America’s greatest champion of racial justice and equality, the leader who not only dreamed of a color-blind society, but who also lead a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality.” (www.thekingcenter.org).
These are some of the local events scheduled today through Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day:
- At 8 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church will hold its 25th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast at the Miracle Center, 1100 Grand Ave. The theme of this year’s breakfast is “Living the Dream: Past, Present and Future,” and the keynote speaker will be the Rev. Boise Kimber, pastor and civil rights activist.
Kimber is pastor of the First Calvary Baptist Church of New Haven, Conn., and recent past president of the Connecticut Missionary Baptist State Convention. He also serves on the board of the National Action Network Inc.
The cost for the breakfast is $10 per person and is payable at the door. For more information, call St. Paul Baptist Church, 1120 Grand Ave., at 262-632-1467.
- Gateway Technical College will hold its 22nd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Monday, Jan. 18, in the Madrigrano Auditorium on the college’s Kenosha campus, 3520 30th Ave. The free, public event begins at noon, with doors opening at 11:30 a.m.
“Personal Responsibility: Stand Up!” is the theme of this year’s celebration and the keynote speaker will be Thelma Sias, vice president of local affairs for Wisconsin Energy Corporation Energy Group. A resident of Milwaukee, Sias has taken personal responsibility for change through her leadership and board member roles in numerous community agencies including United Way, Boys and Girls Clubs, African-American Women’s Fund Project, Community Advocates, Greater Milwaukee Diversity Committee, Milwaukee Area Workforce Development and more.
Monday’s celebration will also feature the recognition of the 2016 winners of GTC’s Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award. This award is given each year to residents of Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties who exemplify King’s principles and serve the causes of equality, justice, freedom and peace.
The following Racine residents are this year’s humanitarians:
- Don and Cheryl Mueller, for their lifetime of service to those in need, including work in spearheading a resurgence of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Racine, and work in prison ministry.
- Alexis Aiello, a fourth-grader in the Racine Unified School District, for her work with Girl Scouts and as a peer mentor at her school.
Gateway will also offer an educational summit as part of its Jan. 18 MLK celebration. The summit will run from 2 to 4:30 p.m. in the Madrigrano Auditorium and will focus on literacy. Area leaders will address the current state of literacy in the region; key needs of area programs; successes and best practices; barriers and how to work together to improve the success of literacy programs throughout the district. The public is invited to attend.
For more about Gateway’s event, go to www.gtc.edu/mlk.