Celebrating the life, legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Milwaukee hosts the state's largest event

MILWAUKEE -- Americans spent Monday, January 18th reflecting on the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- one of the country's most storied civil rights leaders, and Milwaukee on Monday played host to the state's largest celebration.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee hosted its 19th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast on Monday at the Italian Conference Center. Approximately 600 community and state leaders gathered for the event.

The breakfast program celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and recognized local organizations dedicated to serving others, just as Dr. King did.

During the event, the crowd was brought to their feet after a motivating poem by eight-year-old Jayda Cole, a student from Milwaukee College Prep.

"What am I doing for others you say? Well let me tell you, I pick up litter in my neighborhood, what do you do? I stand against bullies around me, what do  you do? I hold myself and my friends accountable for our actions," said Cole.

Her words captured the essence of what D. Martin Luther King Jr. was all about -- changing society for the better.

"We should be looking how far we can advance society from the last year, the previous year, how much further can we go," said Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee).

State and local leaders, like Governor Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett spoke at the celebration breakfast.

"Loving others no matter where they are from, what they look like, no matter what their background," said Governor Walker.

The event also celebrated organizations that support diversity and inclusion in the Milwaukee area. And encouraged everyone to keep Dr. King's legacy alive, by making a commitment to serve others.

"I am determined to build a better tomorrow for me, my family and my community," said Cole.

The YMCA also sponsored a "Day of Service," where volunteers worked in the community, instead of at their jobs for the day.