MLK Day events set for across Wisconsin

By: - January 17, 2022 5:13 am
Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers a speech to a crowd of approximately 7,000 people on May 17, 1967 at UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza in Berkeley, California. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers a speech to a crowd of approximately 7,000 people on May 17, 1967 at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza in Berkeley, California. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Across Wisconsin, communities, religious groups and other organizations are holding events on Monday to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

In Madison, there’s a week of events planned that include religious services of all faiths and a community service week put on by the UW-Madison Athletics Department. 

The holiday itself will feature a youth call to service hosted by the City of Madison, Dane County, Madison School and Community Recreation, Madison Out of School Time, Madison Public Library, and the Urban League of Greater Madison. The call to service is for middle and high school students and a virtual event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. will include speakers from around the community. 

Madison and Dane County’s official 37th annual observance of the day will be held virtually from 6-7 p.m. and will include the awarding of the MLK Humanitarian Award by Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and County Executive Joe Parisi. The event will also include a keynote speech from Ilyasah Shabazz, the daughter of activist Malcolm X. 

A week after the holiday, on Jan. 25, UW-Madison is holding its Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium, which is capped off by a keynote speech by New York Times Magazine writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of the 1619 Project. 

In Appleton, the Fox Cities are hosting their 31st annual observance of the holiday with an online event hosted by Lawrence University, the City of Appleton, United Way Fox Cities, Appleton Area School District and African Heritage, Inc. The event features a speech by Outagamie County Judge Yadira Rein, likely the first person of color to be a judge in the county after she was appointed by Gov. Tony Evers last year. 

The Fox Cities event is set to take place from 6-7:30 p.m. 

In Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Public Library is hosting a virtual event starting at 1 p.m. Monday featuring speeches and performances from community members. 

The YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee is also holding an event featuring speeches from community members from 8-9:30 a.m. 

Community groups across the Milwaukee suburbs are also putting on their own celebrations

Despite all the events planned across the state and around the country, the family of Martin Luther King Jr. has called for “no celebration” of the holiday unless federal voting rights legislation is passed by Congress. 

“President Biden and Congress used their political muscle to deliver a vital infrastructure deal, and now we are calling on them to do the same to restore the very voting rights protections my father and countless other civil rights leaders bled to secure,” Martin Luther King III said in a statement Wednesday, adding that the family “will not accept empty promises in pursuit of my father’s dream for a more equal and just America.”


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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.