'It takes a village:' 14 students who have best exemplified legacy of Dr. MLK Jr. receive scholarships

Brandan Wade

MILWAUKEE -- Fourteen students received scholarships Sunday, Jan. 13 through a program that's brought hope to young people in Milwaukee for more than 40 years. The recipients were said to have best exemplified the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., writing about what his message means to them.

Students fighting against the odds to be the light they wish to see in the world got an extra boost at Cross Lutheran Church near 16th and Walnut.

"It really means a lot to me because without them, I probably wouldn't be here," said Brandan Wade, scholarship recipient.

With the scholarship, Wade moved one step closer to completing his degree in music education at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC).

"It doesn't just take one person. It takes a village," said Wade.

Joseph Ellwanger

Each scholarship recipient reflected the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in their character and dreams for the future.

"I feel like I would be wasting my gifts as a black woman to not do what he taught us to do, which is go get an education," said Briana Bynum, scholarship recipient.

The scholarship funds, raised annually through grassroots efforts, via donations from the community, are collected by church members from 11 congregations.

"As we looked at how we would keep the legacy alive, we thought 'we've got to reach the younger generation,'" said Joseph Ellwanger, scholarship program co-founder.

In its 43rd year, $20,000 was raised for the program, with $1,100 going to each of the 14 recipients.

"This covers books. This covers transportation. This covers the basic needs that a student has," said Ellwanger.

"I hope this inspires other people to go for their goals. Once a closed door is in front of you -- never just stop there," said Bynum.